Belz family of Memphis gives $20 million to Yeshiva University

(l-r): Jack Belz, Dr. Ari Berman, Ronald Belz (son of Jack Belz)

(Left to right): Jack Belz, Ari Berman, Ronald Belz (son of Jack Belz)

Ari Berman, president of Yeshiva University, announced that the Belz family of Memphis has signed a $20 million gift agreement to launch a comprehensive renovation of the cornerstone academic building on Wilf Campus in Washington Heights.

In recognition of this transformative gift, the building, currently known as Furst Hall, will be renamed the Belz Building. With the full support of the Furst family and the Sol and Hilda Furst Foundation, a permanent memorial to Sol and Hilda Furst will be established within the lobby of the Belz Building.

The contribution will serve as the lead gift to spearhead the comprehensive update of the building to renovate all classrooms and administrative spaces as well as modernize and renovate the interior and exterior of the building.

Within this gift, the Belz family has included much of Jack and Marilyn z”l Belz’ lifetime collection of Judaica and artwork valued at $6 million. The collections showcase a breadth of art forms focused on elements of Jewish life from religious ceremonial rituals to culture to biblical stories. These items will deeply enhance the educational experience of the student body and will be open to the public on permanent display as the Belz Collections and Galleries on the first floor of the Belz Building.

This signature gift serves as the latest marker of increased momentum for the University’s recently launched campaign — Rise Up: The Campaign for 613 — an ambitious comprehensive campaign that will fund scholarships, facilities and faculty to help move Yeshiva University into the future.

“Jack and his beloved wife Marilyn of blessed memory have long stood as exemplars of our Torah values and pillars of our Yeshiva University community,” said Berman. “Their lifelong dedication to educating our students, the leaders of tomorrow, reflects the multi-generational partnership between the Belz family and Yeshiva University. I am deeply grateful for our personal friendship and for this extraordinary gift which will profoundly elevate and enhance the YU experience for our students, faculty and entire community.”

Longtime supports of Yeshiva University, Marilyn z”l and Jack Belz have been universally recognized as builders of the city of Memphis and philanthropists committed to the arts and Jewish causes. Belz is chairman and CEO of Belz Enterprises, a privately-owned commercial and industrial real estate development company based in Memphis that was founded by his father, Philip Belz z”l, in the 1940s. A trustee of Yeshiva University since 1986, Jack Belz also sits on the Sy Syms School of Business Board of Overseers.

Jack Belz announced the gift “with great pleasure and pride.” The Belz family “has been involved for decades with Yeshiva University. My father Philip Belz, z”l, beginning in the ’60s served as an active member of the Board of Trustees; and I have followed that same path. My parents, Sarah and Philip Belz, z”l, established and endowed the Belz School of Jewish Music at the campus long ago and were very pleased to have Cantor Joseph Malovany as the distinguished Professor and Executive Director of the school. My wife, Marilyn, of blessed memory, and I have continued annually to provide support for the School of Jewish Music, along with Yeshiva University in general, the Sy Syms School of Business and other affiliates of YU.

“We have always recognized and admired Yeshiva University and its national and international reputation as the flagship Jewish university which provides a remarkable multi-faceted education for its men and women students in their pursuit of excellence in both Jewish education and general education as they pursue such varied careers as Rabbinical, Law, Medicine, Psychology, Science, Finance and other areas.”