Plaudits for Open University

There was an excessive amount of praise between the military and civilians at a gala dinner on Dec. 13 at The Plaza for the American Friends of the Open University of Israel.

Upon receiving the organization’s Yigal Alon Award, Gen. (ret.) Shaul Mofaz earned the admiration of the gold-plated audience for his accomplishments in the IDF and current service in the Knesset.

Mofaz turned to Ingeborg Rennert, president of the American Friends, and declared, “As an old soldier I salute you for your support of one of the best educational systems in Israel.”

President Hagit Messer-Yaron reported that Open University of Israel now has close to 55,000 students.

Michael Steinhardt presented the Young Leadership Award, accompanied with lavish praise, to Rebecca and Edward Sugar who heads an investment firm.

“For the last eight years,” he said, “Rebecca ran the best post-birthright Israel programs in the country. She is responsible for turning thousands of young people into proud Jews.”

Rebecca tried to reign in the compliments, but Steinhardt cut her off: “I can say whatever I want. I want to say one more thing before I’m kicked off this stage. I’ll make a seven-figure gift upon the birth of Rebecca’s next child.”

That garnered the biggest salute of the evening from the 275 guests, including Ingeborg’s husband Ira Leon Rennert and daughter Nina Rennert Davidson, American Friends chairman Malcolm Thomson, Elie Wiesel, new Israel Bonds chairman Richard Hirsch, Israel Bonds president Joshua Matza, Cantor Joseph Malovany and Rabbi Yaakov Kermaier of Fifth Avenue Synagogue, Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, and Israel Museum director James S. Snyder who also received an award at the dinner.

Tim Boxer is editor of

About the Author
Tim Boxer is a former New York Post columnist, and is longtime columnist for the New York Jewish Week. He is also editor of, is the author of Jewish Celebrity Hall of Fame, interviews of Hollywood stars about their Jewish roots.