Yoran-Szyncer Research Fund in Jewish History Awards Scholarships to Eight Researchers Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Yorans' extensive support for TAU encompasses biological research, Jewish studies and the arts
In memory of their parents, Hanna and Shmuel Sznycer-Reichert, husband and wife philanthropists Varda Yoran and Shalom Yoran-Sznycer awarded the Yoran-Sznycer Research Fund in Jewish History's annual scholarships on May 19 during TelAvivUniversity's Annual Board of Governors Meeting.
This year's scholarship recipients are eight young researchers from the Chaim Rosenberg School of Jewish Studies at TelAvivUniversity. They received their awards before a sizeable audience which included many TAU students, faculty, and friends who have been touched, directly or indirectly, by the Yorans' extensive philanthropy.
A Ceremony Suffused With Remembrance
The ceremony showcased the remarkable breadth of material the Research Fund in Jewish History has produced over its twenty-year span -- approximately 80 significant academic research projects, including dozens of books, papers and analyses relating to Jewish history and the Holocaust. This work has led to important breakthroughs in post-graduate research and books published in the field.
At the ceremony, Prof. Yaron Tsur, head of the School for Jewish Studies, lauded The Defiant, Shalom Yoran-Sznycer's inspiring book about his teenage years fighting alongside Soviet partisans in the forests of Eastern Europe in World War II. Prof. Dina Porat, head of The Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Anti-Semitism and Racism, then read a personal greeting from Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel praising The Defiant's important contribution to Holocaust remembrance, and recognizing the author's significant Holocaust commemoration activities supporting museums and exhibitions, and serving on major committees.
Prof. Porat, a long-time friend of Varda Yoran and Shalom Yoran-Sznycer, calls their Yoran-Sznycer Research Fund in Jewish History "a major fund in the area of Holocaust research, studies and publication. Their contribution is significant, and the works generated through the fund represent miracles and breakthroughs in their own right."
Extraordinary Dedication to the Jewish People
In 1998, Shalom Yoran-Sznycer was awarded an Honorary Doctorate, TelAvivUniversity's highest honor, for his longstanding contribution to Holocaust remembrance and social causes in Israel and abroad. He has served as Vice Chairman and Secretary/Treasurer of the American Friends of Tel Aviv University, and is today a Governor of Tel Aviv University.
Varda Yoran received an honorary fellowship at TelAvivUniversity in 2004 recognizing her involvement in the arts, her work as a sculptor, and her partnership with her husband in initiating important projects at the university in biological research, Jewish studies and the arts. Several of her striking sculptures, donated to the university, grace the palm tree-lined campus today.
The Yorans' impact at TelAvivUniversity is profound, felt in every corner of the TAU campus. Their long list of contributions includes the Shalom and Varda Yaron Institute for Genomic Research, and the Varda Yoran Art Catalog Fund.
Generosity of Human Spirit
Shalom Yoran-Sznycer was a boy of 14 named Selim when his parents were murdered by the Nazis in Poland. He and his brother escaped by hiding in a nearby forest, and his subsequent fight against the Nazis as a Jewish partisan is the subject of his memoir. It includes these words: "Before being separated from my mother, she told me, 'Go fight ... try to save yourselves, avenge our death, and tell the world what happened.' These are the words that guided me through that dark period, what gave me strength to fight, and what inspires me to share my story today."
When he emigrated to Israel, he changed his name to a Hebrew one and joined the newly formed Israeli Air Force. He was a key figure in developing Israeli Aircraft Industries, eventually rising to Vice President.
Today, he and Varda live in New York. Shalom was chairman of a private commercial aircraft company in New York City until his retirement five years ago. He is a founding member and trustee of the Museum of Jewish Heritage. The Yorans are actively involved in philanthropy in the United States, Israel and beyond.
Vice President of Tel Aviv University Yehiel Ben-Zvi has said of him, "Shalom is one of those rare people who have lived through extreme trauma, and not only survived, but flourished and prospered. He rose out of the ashes of the Holocaust -- his family and world shattered -- and made a happy and full life for himself. Shalom came out of the Holocaust with a determination to make a better life not only for himself, but for his people."
Prof. Porat adds, "Shalom is a modest and quiet person, not at all what you would expect a partisan with such achievements to be."