Local couple helps Bar-Ilan University grow

Local couple helps Bar-Ilan University grow

Collectively, 13 graduate degrees are held by Englewood residents Mordecai and Monique Katz, their four children, and their children’s spouses: four in business, three each in medicine and law, and one each in engineering, mathematics, and Jewish studies.

Small wonder, then, that the senior Katzes have chosen educational institutions to be the beneficiaries of their philanthropy. The academic center on the Frisch School’s new 14-acre Paramus campus is among several schools that bear their name. Most recently, the couple dedicated the Information Technology Building at Bar-Ilan University’s new School of Engineering Complex in Israel.

At the dedication of the new Information Technology Building at Bar-Ilan University’s new School of Engineering Complex in Israel are, from left, Prof. Moshe Kaveh, the university’s president, Mordecai D. Katz, and Dr. Monique C. Katz. photos by Yoni Reif

"One of our daughters attended her post-high school year there, and after we visited the campus then, we got more interested because of the wonderful things they were doing," said Mordecai Katz, who joined the university’s Global Board of Trustees 13 years ago and is its chairman. He also recently became vice-chairman of the board of trustees of Yeshiva University in New York.

"My wife and I saw that the university was expanding at a rapid rate — it doubled the size of its campus 10 years ago, adding another 65 acres — and we began an extensive building campaign for its north campus," he said. "We previously built the Interdisciplinary Studies Building, completed five years ago. Then, Bar-Ilan was asked by the government to build an engineering school from scratch, and construction began about four years ago."

The Israeli government contributed one-third of the cost, and the Katzes provided the remainder of the capital needed to complete one of the four buildings, but were content to leave the details up to the architects. "We requested only that the building look as good 50 years from now as it looks today," said Katz, adding that the north campus won an Israeli presidential prize three years ago as the most beautiful campus in the country.

"There is an urgent demand for skilled engineers in Israel," said Bar-Ilan University President Prof. Moshe Kaveh at the dedication ceremony on June 4. "I intend to meet this need by doubling the number of students currently enrolled in our School of Engineering over the next five years."

The four interconnecting structures composing the School of Engineering complex are devoted, respectively, to information technology, computer engineering, electronic technology, and bio-engineering. The buildings house cutting-edge facilities such as a "clean room" for manufacturing innovative devices and laboratories for super-resolution and imaging, nano-photonic and opto-electronic devices, semiconductors, robotics, and speech processing. The last is the only one of its kind in Israel.

"The Mordecai and Monique Katz Information Technology Building is being dedicated to our children, grandchildren, and all future generations of the Jewish people," said Katz at the ceremony. "It is a link in the chain of Jewish continuity celebrating our people’s commitment to higher education in all fields, including engineering, the sciences, humanities, as well as the traditional Torah and Jewish studies. These disciplines all benefit from the rapidly expanding science and practice of information technology."

The Katzes also have sponsored scholarships and fellowships for undergraduate and graduate students at Bar-Ilan.

Englewood residents for 35 years, the Katzes are members of congregations Ahavath Torah and Shomrei Emunah. Mordecai Katz served on the boards of the Moriah and Frisch schools and Ahavath Torah. Both have been awarded honorary doctorates by Bar-Ilan and Yeshiva universities. Monique Katz, a radiologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital and vice-chairman of Yeshiva’s Stern College for Women, and Mordecai Katz, a retired aerospace industry executive, were honored by Bergen County Israel Bonds earlier this summer.

Their children graduated from Moriah and Frisch, as did one daughter-in-law. They have three grandsons attending Moriah, three granddaughters at SAR in Riverdale, N.Y., and "two more granddaughters in diapers," in Los Angeles.

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