Congressman Mike Lawler to deliver Touro commencement address, get honorary doctorate

Touro praised the congressman's stances on education and Israel.

Mike Lawler at a COJO event. Credit: Lauren Hakimi/Shtetl

May 22, 2024 11:00 AM


Congressman Mike Lawler, a Republican who represents Rockland County, will receive an honorary doctorate degree from the Orthodox Jewish-affiliated Touro University, and be the commencement speaker at its upcoming graduation, according to a press release from the university. 

The press release praised Lawler’s stances on education and Israel. “A champion of school choice, he has publicly defended and protected Jewish education on both the state and national levels,” it said. “He has also fought against antisemitism and the BDS movement and is an outspoken supporter of Israel.”

“In the wake of the anti-Israel demonstrations at colleges and universities across the nation, Lawler has shown that the safety of Jewish students is of paramount concern,” Touro president Alan Kadish said in the press release.

In 2023, Lawler aimed to add a non-binding resolution to a bill in Congress saying “local educational agencies do not have the authority to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum” at private schools, Hamodia reported

“In New York,” Lawler said at the time, “this is of great concern, as the current governor and her administration have attempted to impose severe restrictions on private schools.” Lawler’s resolution came months after the New York State Education Department passed regulations outlining requirements for private schools, after reports showed that many Hasidic boys’ schools offered little to no education in math, science, English, or social studies.

More recently, Lawler introduced the Antisemitism Awareness Act, which passed the House of Representatives earlier this month. If signed into law, the bill would instruct the U.S. Department of Education to use the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism when investigating allegations of anti-Jewish discrimination on college campuses. Among many other things, the IHRA definition considers it antisemitic to “[deny] the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.”

Touro University, the alma mater of notable graduates such as Judge Ruchie Freier and City Councilmember Kalman Yeger, has multiple branches and programs that cater to Haredi students, including helping students earn GEDs in order to enroll in college degree programs. The congress member will speak at the commencement address for Touro’s Lander colleges for men and women on June 2 at Manhattan’s Lincoln Center.