Ask Stewart Colton to explain how his 25-year commitment to Tel Aviv University began, and he’ll tell you it was “just serendipity.”
It started at a New York restaurant, where he and his wife, Judy, met the university’s president at dinner.
A while later the Short Hills couple visited the campus on a trip to Israel with Herbert Friedman, a Reform rabbi and philanthropist. Friedman was instrumental in rescuing Jewish refugees after World War II and aiding the fight for Israel’s independence.
The rabbi, who was president of the Friends of Tel Aviv University, enlisted the Coltons as volunteers.
Since then, the Colton Family Foundation has provided scholarship funds to 45 students in a wide range of disciplines.
The scholarships are $21,000 apiece, with an extra $3,000 if the recipient happens to be a parent “so that they can just study,” Colton explained in a telephone interview from his home. “They don’t have to have a job or teach; they can concentrate in getting their doctorates.”
The Coltons have also helped endow some notable achievements achieved by university faculty members.
One recent recipient was Dr. Britta Hardy. Her work at the Felsenstein Medical Research Center at TAU’s Sackler School of Medicine may help find a way to spare diabetics from amputations.
The Coltons have also funded research projects ranging from gene therapy for colon cancer to breakthrough medications for Alzheimer’s disease.
But sponsoring medical research is hardly the Coltons’ only interest.
They have helped fund Eyal Zisser’s work on Israeli security issues at the university’s Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies.
They have endowed the Stewart and Judy Colton Chair of Law and Security in the Faculty of Law and the Colton Family Next Generation Technologies Institute at the university. And they have supported an opera singer and several musicians at the its Buchmann-Mehta School of Music.
A retired manufacturer of metals and chemicals for the electronics industry, Stewart Colton told NJ Jewish News, “We are pleased we are associated with the university and able to do the things we were able to do.”
“Science, security, and song — it’s a wonderful, long-range philosophy for philanthropy and an important vision for the State of Israel as well,” Roni Krinsky, president of TAU’s American Friends organization, wrote on its website.
“It is a real sense of accomplishment. It is a joyous thing to be able to do,” Colton added. “We feel very fortunate that we are able to be connected to the university and give the opportunity to these students to accomplish their goals.”