Four to be inducted in Hebrew U.s new Hall of Fame

These first honorees in the university's newly established Hall of Fame are all alumni, chosen "for the exemplary way they demonstrate the institution's significant impact here in the Bay Area Jewish and general communities despite [the university's] location in Israel," said Daphna Noily, regional director for the organization.

In addition to Banin, the other inductees are Rabbi Alan Lew, president of the Board of Rabbis of Northern California; Larry S. Moses, former executive director of the S.F.-based Bureau of Jewish Education and a founding director of the national Wexner graduate fellowship program; and Steven Zipperstein, professor in Jewish culture and history, and director of the Jewish studies program at Stanford University.

Each of the honorees will be presented the Judah L. Magnes Gold Medal, which is named for Hebrew University's first president. It recognizes "outstanding contributions to education and cultural life in the United States and Israel," Noily said.

Banin, a Jerusalem native who is president of TCSI Corporation in Alameda, received his bachelor's and master's degrees at Hebrew University and then earned a doctorate at U.C. Berkeley in computer studies. In large part he attributes his success to professors in Jerusalem who "instilled in me a need to search for excellence and truth while using scientific methods."

Lew, while a rabbinical student, spent a year at Hebrew University, carrying a full course load. Ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary, where he won more than a dozen major academic awards, Lew is now spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Sholom in San Francisco and moderator of the "Mosaic" television program on KPIX-TV.

Moses says his year at Hebrew University's Rothberg School for Overseas Students "clearly laid the foundation for my decision to devote my career to the Jewish people." He later spent 12 years in the Bay Area, beginning his career as Hillel director at S.F. State University, where he also taught modern Jewish history.

Zipperstein, who was the first instructor since the 1920s to teach a course in Russian Jewish history at Moscow's Russia State Humanities University, initially attended Hebrew University as an undergraduate and later served as visiting professor.

He described his undergraduate time there as an "intense, vibrant experience that created the basis for my relationship with the country ever since." Editor of the scholarly Jewish Studies Journal, he is also director of the Koret Institute, a think tank on contemporary Jewish affairs. His most recent book won a National Jewish Book Award.

According to Leonard Cohn, the regional American Friends of Hebrew University president who will co-chair the Hall of Fame event with his wife, Robbie, "Even the dinner favors will reflect the Hebrew University's impact. Guests will receive seeds of long-shelf-life tomatoes, which have revolutionized that industry, and chicken toys, which have increased farming productivity. Both projects were researched and developed at the university's Faculty of Agriculture in Rehovot."