Howard Gases’ connection to Hebrew University dates back to his days as an undergraduate at Temple University in his hometown of Philadelphia. He spent his junior year abroad at its Rothberg International School for foreign students before earning his master’s degree in social work at Yeshiva University.
Decades later he’s back with the Israeli institution, in his new job as executive director of the New Jersey region of American Friends of The Hebrew University.
It is the first time that the American fund-raising arm of the university has established an office in the state.
“We expect Howard to promote and educate the community about the university to build a community of supporters and begin to build a significant fund-raising campaign,” Peter Willner, the organization’s national executive director, told NJJN.
Gases is arranging public appearances in October for Hebrew University’s visiting president, Menachem Ben-Sassoon, as he enlists faculty members and alumni to assist fund-raising efforts.
“This is an opportunity to work with people to provide services to a university that is doing such good work,” Gases said. “There are many Jewish organizations that raise money for sad things. This is something very positive.”
Speaking from his East Brunswick home, which is now doubling as his office, Gases was eager to tout Hebrew University, which has three campuses in Jerusalem and a fourth in Rehovot.
Its seven faculties include specialties in the humanities, social sciences, human and veterinary medicine, mathematics, agriculture, and law. Among its graduates and faculty members are seven Nobel laureates.
“It has been a tremendous institution,” Gases said. “Some of Israel’s prime ministers, presidents, and Knesset members attended the university. It is one of the top 100 universities in the world.”
Gases was most recently executive director of the Jewish Federation of Monmouth County, where he served for 12 years. (He was succeeded in June 2011 by Keith Krivitzky, a fund-raising executive who came from the position of vice president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle’s Center for Jewish Philanthropy.)
Gases said his tenure as federation executive will be a strong asset in his new position.
“The federation experience was wonderful for me,” he said. “It was having a conversation and talking to people about a cause.”
Gases began his career in Jewish communal work as director of youth activities at the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism’s NJ region. He also worked as associate executive director of the Jewish Federation of Central New Jersey and executive director of the Jewish Federation of Princeton Mercer Bucks.
Willner thinks Gases and the university are a strong match.
“We are the Harvard of Israel,” said Willner. “Howard is walking in with a very strong institution behind him. He has a lot to be able to promote, and we are very fortunate we have him on staff. He comes with a good resume, he is passionate about the university, he is knowledgeable about Israel, and he has a good background.”