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Survivor and Iron Dome Inventor Are Saluted by Yeshiva U.

Yeshiva University honored Brig. Gen (Ret.) Dr. Daniel Gold and Holocaust survivor Emil Fish, two outstanding citizens of the world, at its 92nd annual commencement ceremony at the Theater at Madison Square Garden.
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June 8, 2023
From left, former Sen.Joe Lieberman, Ira Mitzner, Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman, Dr. Daniel Gold and Emil A. Fish

Yeshiva University honored Brig. Gen (Ret.) Dr. Daniel Gold and Holocaust survivor Emil Fish, two outstanding citizens of the world, at its 92nd annual commencement ceremony at the Theater at Madison Square Garden.

Dr. Gold, best known as the inventor of Israel’s famed Iron Dome, accepted YU’s highest honor for global leadership, the Presidential Medallion. The school saluted Fish, a philanthropist and visionary, with an honorary doctorate.

“As Israel celebrates its 75th birthday,” university President Dr. Ari Berman said, “it is particularly fitting for us to host one of the heroes who stands as a role model for our students,” alluding to Dr. Gold. 

Gold’s “deep dedication to the Jewish state and his impactful leadership in safeguarding its vitality and security,” make him a worthy recipient, said Berman.

After declaring his pride over being  with “the next generation of bright minds,” Gold said that “as head of the Israel Ministry of Defense Research and Development Directorate, it is a privilege to witness what young people are capable of.”

Gold said the creativity, innovation and drive of typical graduates result in cutting-edge technology being developed thanks to their talent.

More importantly, he said, success is being achieved according to their values. 

“The students here are receiving the tools and education they need to lead.”  

Gold peers ahead with a strong sense of optimism. He holds doctorates in electronic engineering and business management and has survived withering criticism over the Iron Dome to become a celebrated figure in Israel.

Skepticism over the Iron Dome was widespread in 2011 when Gold’s invention was introduced. 

Skepticism over the Iron Dome was widespread in 2011 when Gold’s invention was introduced. Soon enough, it was shown to be an effective repellent when Israel was attacked. 

Since those early days, the Iron Dome has been credited with intercepting numerous rockets that streamed from the Gaza Strip. 

From the start, in 2004, Gold was fighting uphill to win acceptance of the Dome from his superiors. He anticipated that rocket fire would be the main threat against Israel, and he was worried there was no effective form of resistance.

Gold said he told his superiors that he needed funding, but there was not an agreeable face in sight. When he told his bosses that if they gave him money, he would see that the Iron Dome was erected. Every important voice above him felt negative and rejected his pleas. Gold and his fellow believers went ahead anyway, and in 2007, the Iron Dome was chosen as Israel’s missile defense system.

These days, the Iron Dome is used by Israel to intercept and destroy short-range rockets, artillery shells and mortars fired from distances of up to 45 miles.

Emil Fish survived the horrors of Bergen-Belsen and became a successful Los Angeles businessman after the war. He dedicated his life to remembering victims of the Holocaust.

Fish founded YU’s Emil A. and Jenny Fish Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies. The center educates today’s teachers to effectively transmit the history and lessons of the Holocaust from a Jewish standpoint, vital in a world where antisemitism seems on the rise.

Upon receiving his honorary doctorate, Fish marked Yeshiva University history as he was joined at commencement with his daughter Monique who earned a master’s in Holocaust studies and two grandchildren who were awarded their bachelor’s degrees. Together they represent an amazing accomplishment of three generations receiving degrees simultaneously.

Fish sounded a warning note. “Over my lifetime,” he said, “I have seen not just a declining interest in the Holocaust, but a growing misrepresentation of what happened.”

During commencement, more than 1,700 degrees were awarded to students from four undergraduate and 11 graduate schools and programs.

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