Honorary Doctorate Recipient
CNN anchor and chief Washington correspondent Jake Tapper joined the network in January 2013. Tapper currently anchors a one-hour weekday program, The Lead with Jake Tapper, which debuted in March 2013, and has hosted CNN's Sunday morning show, State of the Union, since June 2015.
Tapper imparts his political expertise on State of the Union by conducting interviews with top newsmakers on politics and policy, covering Washington, the country and the world. The Lead covers headlines from around the country and the globe with topics ranging from breaking news in politics and world events, to politics, money, sports, and popular culture.
Most recently, Tapper lent his political expertise to CNN's 2016 election coverage and moderated two Presidential Primary debates. On election night, Tapper played a pivotal role in the network's coverage of the race and provided analysis on projections throughout the evening.
Tapper has been a widely-respected reporter in the nation's capital for more than 15 years. His reporting on the 2016 election has been recognized with a number of awards, including a 2017 Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Television Political Journalism, the Los Angeles Press Club's Presidents Award for Impact on Media, and The Canadian Journalism Foundation's Tribute to Exemplary Journalism. Tapper has also earned the coveted Merriman Smith Award for presidential coverage from the White House Correspondents' Association four times.
In addition to his reporting, Tapper has also authored four books, including his debut novel The Hellfire Club, published in 2018, The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor, published in 2012, Down and Dirty: The Plot to Steal the Presidency, which was published in 2001, and Body Slam: The Jesse Ventura Story, which was published in 1999. The Outpost, debuted in the top 10 on The New York Times best seller list. Tapper's book and his reporting on the veterans and troops were cited when the Congressional Medal of Honor Society awarded him the "Tex" McCrary Award for Excellence in Journalism.
Tapper joined CNN from ABC News, where he most recently served as senior White House correspondent, a position he was named to immediately following the 2008 presidential election. He also played a key role in ABC News' Emmy award winning coverage of the 2009 inauguration of President Barack Obama, and its Murrow-Award winning coverage of the death of Osama bin Laden.
In his more than nine years at ABC News, Tapper covered a wide range of stories, visiting remote corners of Afghanistan, covering the war in Iraq from Baghdad, and spending time in New Orleans to cover the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the failure of the levee system. In 2008, he served as a lead political reporter for the coverage of the presidential election.
Prior to joining ABC News, Tapper served as Washington correspondent, then national correspondent, for Salon.com. He began his journalism career at the Washington City Paper and his reporting has been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times and The Weekly Standard, among others. He has drawn caricatures and illustrations for the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times, and his comic strip, "Capitol Hell," appeared in Roll Call from 1994 to 2003. In 2001, he hosted the CNN show Take 5, a weekend program that featured young journalists talking about politics and pop culture.
He graduated Phi Beta Kappa, Magna Cum Laude from Dartmouth College in 1991 and lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife, daughter and son.
Honorary Master of Arts Recipients
Regina and Martin z"l Horden
Over the course of nearly twenty years, Regina and Martin (z"l) Horden, completed the equivalent of one or two master's degrees worth of courses in Jewish Studies at Gratz College. As non-matriculated students, however, they did not formally earn this degree. For the Hordens, it wasn't about degree attainment, but about learning and discovery. This love of learning is an inspiration to us all. The Hordens also have been generous friends of Gratz's continuing education program. This past July, Marty passed away at the age of 89. By conferring an honorary Master of Arts in Jewish Education, Gratz honors his memory and the extraordinary commitment to learning and the pursuit of knowledge that he shared with his beloved wife, Regina.
Gratz Medal Recipient
Jewish Educator, Founding Principal of the Forman Center of the Perelman Jewish Day School in Greater Philadelphia.
On Saturday mornings at Beth Sholom Congregation, it is easy to spot Sora Landes. Donning one of her many elegant hats, there is always a warm and jovial gathering of friends and family around her table during the Kiddush lunch. At Gratz College, she is a regular at lectures and continuing education programs. In the many “hats” she has worn over her lifetime, Landes’ influence extends across generations of educators, children, and families. An alumna of the Gratz College Class of 1950, Landes continues to inspire and model a deep and abiding commitment to Jewish learning and education.
According to Landes, born in Brooklyn in 1933, she “imbibed Jewish education from my mother’s milk.” Her parents, Rose (z”l) and Azriel Eisenberg (z”l), were pillars in American Jewish education. She carried forward that example as a mother of four, grandmother of fifteen, and great grandmother of two (with two more on the way), and the beloved wife of Rabbi Admiral Aaron Landes (z”l), Rabbi of Congregation Beth Sholom for thirty six years and Rabbi Emeritus for fourteen.
In 1947, Landes’ family moved from Ohio to Philadelphia when her father was appointed to lead the Council on Jewish Education, where he also served as the acting dean at Gratz College for three years. Landes was enrolled at both the Philadelphia High School for Girls and Gratz College. Though she was only thirteen, Landes’ high marks on Gratz’s Hebrew entrance exam placed her in the College’s teacher education program with the understanding that she would not teach until she was at least nineteen.
“Gratz College was the place where I really felt that I came alive. I just loved Gratz. We had wonderful teachers. We had a wonderful cohort group of students, and there was one other young woman who was also thirteen. It was a class of extraordinary people.”
In 1950, Landes graduated from high school, completed her degree at Gratz in the Teaching of Hebrew, and began her studies in English and Secondary Education at Queens College in New York. She and Aaron Landes married in 1953, and in 1954 she received her bachelor’s degree summa cum laude from Queens College and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. During this time, she also studied at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America and at Teachers’ College, Columbia University.
In 1964, Landes returned to Philadelphia with her husband, now Rabbi Landes, who was appointed to lead the Beth Sholom Congregation in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania. They soon recognized the need for a Jewish day school in this part of the Philadelphia suburbs. For families seeking a Jewish education for their children, the closest options were the Solomon Schechter Day School and Akiba Hebrew Academy, both located on the other side of the Schuylkill River.
In 1973, following an intensive period of research and development, the newly formed Board appointed Landes as Principal of the Forman Hebrew Day School. She served in this role for twenty-seven years. Landes describes the experience of building and growing the school over so many years as “like having a child…a fifth child.”
The school’s first class met at Beth Sholom Congregation, paying rent for the space so that it would retain its status as an independent entity. In the mid-1980s, Forman merged with the Solomon Schechter Day School, under the leadership of Dr. Steven M. Brown, to become the Forman Center of the Perelman Jewish Day School. The merged school was the first Jewish institution to be located on the new Mandell Education Campus in Melrose Park, Pennsylvania.
Following her retirement in 2000, Landes stayed connected to Jewish education. For four years she advised day schools through her work with the Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education, and consulted with education organizations such as the Penn Literacy Network.
Landes has received recognition for her contributions and achievements with awards including the Citation of Honor, Jewish Theological Seminary of America (1983); The Crown of a Good Name Award, Solomon Schechter Day School (1996); Distinguished Alumni Award, Gratz College (1995); and Doctor of Hebrew Letters, Gratz College (2000).
Gratz Medal Recipients
Lois z"l and Martin z"l Bachman
Lois and Martin (z”l) Bachman: Lifelong Jewish Learners
Lois and Martin (z”l) Bachman both came of age on the cusp of WWII.
Born in Philadelphia in 1922, Martin graduated from high school with the class of 1939. In November 1942, at age 20, he was drafted and eventually came face-to-face with Nazi Germany.
During an interview in 2018, Martin, then 96, looked back at his life in segments: an idyllic childhood in Philadelphia’s Strawberry Mansion neighborhood, his military service, post-WWII America and his later years, which included Adult Jewish Learning courses at Gratz and service on Gratz’s Board of Governors. Martin died in September 2019.
Born in 1925, Lois was an only child who grew up in a home across the street from the family-owned clothing store, Lipschitz & Peters, in Easton, Pa. Independent from a young age, Lois entertained herself by visiting the library, spending time with friends and watching double-features at the local movie theater.
Her grandparents, immigrants from Lithuania, started the family business with a pushcart, then later opened a men’s clothing store. Lois’s grandparents offered her mother, Rebecca, a college education. But it was the 1920s, and Rebecca was busy being young, said Marge Boxbaum, daughter to Lois and Martin.
“My grandmother and her father made a deal,” Boxbaum said. “She agreed that she would send Lois to college.”
Unlike her mother, Lois took education seriously. She graduated from Easton High School in 1943 and earned a bachelor’s degree in business education from Penn State in 1947. She briefly worked as a legal secretary for a law firm in Easton, but then jumped on the opportunity to move to Manhattan and work as a secretary for the New York Times Book Review.
“That was the most thrilling job for her,” Boxbaum said.
Meanwhile, Martin was drafted and spent the first part of WWII in the Army Specialized Training Program, which trained soldiers with technical skills at American universities. He attended William & Mary, where he studied engineering.
“Then D-Day came, and along with it the casualties,” Martin said during the 2018 interview. “The Army closed the doors of the training program overnight and went looking for replacements for the combat soldiers.”
Martin was assigned to the 215th Airborne Field Artillery, where he trained as a cannoneer and wireman. He arrived in Europe just in time for the Battle of the Bulge.
After the war ended in April 1945, Martin’s battalion took on police duties in German and Austrian towns. One such town was Braunau, Austria—the hometown of Adolf Hitler.
“The first night we were there, I slept in the house where Hitler was born,” Martin said. “It had been converted to a library and there were bedrolls spread out on the main floor. It was surreal being there.”
From September through December 1945, Martin was in Berlin, serving in the Reparations and Restitution Division. He was tasked with locating all the assets Nazis has looted and returning them to their rightful owners.
“No one knew how to do this,” Martin said. “There were no records of ownership, so we had to start from scratch.”
One day, Martin walked into a meeting to distribute notepads and pencils, and came face to face with General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower, who had been the Supreme Allied Commander during the war. Eisenhower was meeting with Marshal Georgi K. Zhukov, who was the commander-in-chief of the Soviet Red Army.
Martin also remembers observing Yom Kippur in Berlin in September 1945. The U.S. Army hosted a service and invited soldiers from nearby armies.
“The service was conducted by a Russian officer,” Martin said. “The room was full of Jewish guys from all over the world.”
At the conclusion of the service, officers and soldiers enjoyed a break-the-fast meal, served on metal Army trays. As men finished their meal, they dumped remaining food into huge garbage cans behind the kitchen.
“And there, waiting in line, were German civilians desperate for scraps,” Martin said. “This was a moment in time when Germans were starving and waiting for scraps from Jews.”
Martin returned to Philadelphia in December 1945 and enrolled in courses at the Wharton School of Business. He graduated in 1949, at age 27, and married Lois two years later.
Martin embarked on a 50-year career with Strick Trailers, a manufacturer of aluminum sheet and post trailers—a job that took him to Chicago soon after his marriage. There, Lois found work in the college textbook department of Houghton Mifflin. Both of the couple’s children were born in Chicago.
The family moved back to Philadelphia in the mid-1950s, and immediately got involved in the Jewish community. Martin and Lois were among the original members of Old York Temple-Beth Am, a reform synagogue in Abington.
Lois went back to school when her children were still young, earning a master’s degree in library science from Drexel University in 1967. Afterward, she volunteered in the public schools of Upper Moreland Township and lobbied the township to fund its first free public library.
Lois also volunteered at various synagogue libraries and sat on the board of the Hebrew Sunday School Society—which was founded by Rebecca Gratz in 1838. She began studying Hebrew and was enrolled in Gratz’s Samuel Netzky Adult Institute of Jewish Studies from 1973-79. She received a Judaica Librarianship Certificate from Gratz in 1985.
“When you look at my parents, Mom was the heart of Jewish interest,” Boxbaum said. “In terms of Jewish literacy and study and lifelong learning, she was the driving force.”
Lois’s ongoing connection to Gratz sparked Martin’s initial interest. He signed up for a history class.
“I went to the class once a week, and I loved it,” Martin said. “That was the beginning. I kept taking classes after that.”
Once he retired in the mid-1990s, Martin took a more rigorous approach to Adult Jewish Learning. He took courses in Hebrew language, culture and history, and found that he was filling gaps in his identity. When Gratz started the Florence Melton Adult Mini-School, a two-year post-graduate course of study, Lois and Martin both enrolled.
“Other than studying for my bar mitzvah, I hadn’t had much Hebrew,” he said. “I missed out on a Jewish education as a child, so as an older adult I was trying to catch up.”
Martin eventually served on the Gratz Board of Governors and Lois was on the Gratz College Library Committee. Their love of the Tuttleman Library was apparent, when in 2003, Marty and Lois made a major gift to establish the Bachman Rare Book Room. The room houses Gratz’s many rare books, archival materials, and some of the papers of the family of Hyman Gratz. It protects and preserves a part of the College’s – and America’s -- legacy, and provides unique sources for research.
Now 94, Lois was able to do the New York Times crossword puzzles into her early nineties and recommend books to family members. Her main interests continue to be public libraries and Jewish studies, Boxbaum said.
“I remember her always independently teaching herself,” Boxbaum said of her mother. “She would study Hebrew by writing down vocabulary words on 3x5 index cards. She always had such a great joy for Judaism, for Hebrew, for Yiddish. That’s her legacy to me.”
Gratz Medal Recipient
Congregation Mikveh Israel
As we celebrate our 125th anniversary, we honor the leadership, support, and vision of our founder, Hyman Gratz, and our institutional birthplace, Congregation Mikveh Israel. Known as the "Synagogue of the American Revolution," Mikveh Israel is the oldest formal congregation in Philadelphia, and the oldest continuous synagogue in the United States. In 1856, Hyman Gratz vested a $130,000 trust in Mikveh Israel "for the establishment and support of a college for the education of Jews residing in the city and county of Philadelphia." In 1895, Gratz College became the first Hebrew teacher's college in America.
The milestones outlined below illustrate the historic relationship between Gratz College and Congregation Mikveh Israel over the course of three centuries – a relationship that endures until the present day.
The Hebrew Education Society (HES) is formed and its first President is Moses A. Dropsie, a member of Mikveh Israel who later becomes first President of Gratz College. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania charters HES, providing it with the legal authority to establish Jewish institutions of higher learning.
Hyman Gratz, a long term member and treasurer of Mikveh Israel, sets up his estate, which provides funding for a Jewish College in Philadelphia.
On January 27, Hyman Gratz dies and is buried in Mikveh Israel’s old Spruce St. Cemetery in Philadelphia.
Mikveh Israel receives the Gratz Trust from the Pennsylvania Trust, which it retains for the benefit of the College to this day.
Leadership at Mikveh Israel begins a distinguished speaker series to introduce Gratz College to the community and creates Gratz’s founding Board. Moses A. Dropsie, member of Mikveh Israel, is elected President of the College and remains President until his death in 1905.
Instruction at Gratz College begins. Classes held at Mikveh Israel on 7th Street (above Arch Street).
Gratz building dedicated on campus at North Broad & York, which includes Mikveh Israel and Dropsie College. Gratz remains on this campus until 1953 when it goes to Rodeph Shalom for 9 years. Mikveh Israel remains on North Broad Street until 1976.
To improve their pedagogical training, Gratz students formally begin “observing” classes in the Mikveh Israel Religious School.
The Honorable Mayer Sulzberger, long-term member of Mikveh Israel, dies and donates books from his library to Gratz’s library.
Gratz formally merges with Hebrew Education Society. Funding is provided by the Philadelphia Jewish Federation, broadening Gratz’s community base beyond Mikveh Israel.
On January 12, 2020 Mikveh Israel hosts Gratz’s 125th Gala kickoff reception.
Members of Mikveh Israel continue to provide Board leadership to Gratz College to present.