At the recent seventh graduation ceremonies of Touro College Los Angeles (TCLA) at Sapper Hall on its West Hollywood campus, Touro’s president, Dr. Alan Kadish, referred to the graduates as pioneers who have laid the foundation for the future of Touro’s growth and its increasing service to the Greater Los Angeles Jewish Community.” He added that “The time has come to make Touro the institution that befits the second largest Jewish community in the United States, and the third largest in the world. Your example of spirit, performance and dedication will serve as a shining example to your peers and will attract more young dedicated Jews to Touro.”
Kadish likened the students to the bikurim, the first fruits brought in the Temple. Detailed recitation took place of the debt owed to those who came before and defended the land of Israel. They cultivated its farms, permitting the first fruits to be harvested and brought. “Just as it is proper for you to thank all those who love you and who supported you in your efforts to reach this day, so will you be thanked in the future for laying the foundation and showing others the way,” he said. Kadish then announced that, with the imminent opening of its fourth medical school, Touro will become the largest educator of physicians in the world.
Valedictorian Leora Dahan, in her address, spoke of how she was accepted and nurtured by the Touro community even though she was a very recent arrival in Los Angeles from her native Montreal. “Although we each had our own personalities and a diversity of backgrounds,” she said, “we approached our work and our school with a unified spirit – like the Israelites at Mount Sinai, who, though from many different walks of life and backgrounds, accepted the Torah. As the midrash puts it: ‘with one heart, and as one person.’ ” She then outlined the extensive ruach activities that made life at Touro a joyous celebration of Jewish tradition, particularly during the Jewish holidays.
Dean Esther Lowy presented academic awards to Menucha Cohen and Sharona Harroonian, and the Spirit of Touro Award to Student Council President Brana Ratner-Stauber in recognition of her tireless efforts on behalf of enriching student life at Touro. Lowy and Kadish then conferred Baccalaureate Degrees on the 19 graduates, presenting each one with his and her diploma. The ceremonial moving of the tassels on the graduates’ caps concluded the graduation ceremonies.
Lowy pointed out that, though Touro was saying goodbye to these graduates, the Hebrew word for goodbye – shalom – is also the word for hello, and has as one of its roots the word for wholeness, shaleim. One may derive from this that the most heartfelt expression of farewell is the one that conveys the idea that the parties who are parting will not consider themselves whole until they are reunited. “You are now Touro alumni, joining the body of Touro alumni here in Los Angeles and around the world, dedicated to furthering the goals and mission of the school and its founder, Dr. Bernard Lander, zt”l,” Lowy said. “And just as all the parts of the body contribute to a whole to make a healthy organism, so must each and every one of you contribute your unique talents, insights and ideas to the health of this body and the furtherance of its ideals. Knowing these young people as I do, I look to that future with great hope, great expectations and joyful anticipation.”
A reception for the graduates, their families and guests, and Touro’s faculty and administration followed the graduation.