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Tag: Israel at War

Tree Planting Ceremony Honoring October 7th Victims: A Symbol of Remembrance and Hope

At Tel Aviv University Campus, a Planting Ceremony Commemorated the Fallen of the October 7th War while Expressing Hope for the Safe Return of All Captives.

In a solemn yet hopeful ceremony held at Tel Aviv University, students, faculty and members of the community gathered to plant the Avenue of Remembrance and Hope to honor the memory of the victims of the tragic events of October 7th. The occasion marked not only a remembrance of the lives lost but also a testament to the resilience and hope that persists in the face of adversity. The ceremony commenced with the planting of trees and yellow flowers (the color associated with the return of the captives) along the university’s grounds, symbolizing hope and commemorating those who have lost their lives during the events of October 7th and in hope for the safe return of all captives to peace. Each tree represented a life lost, a loved one mourned, and a hope for a brighter future. The planting ceremony held in the Gilman Building courtyard included the participation of Professor Ariel Porat, President of TAU, Daniel Zilber, Chairman of the Student Union, and Miriam and Aharon Haber, the bereaved parents of First Sergeant (Res.) Zechariah Pesach Haber, a doctoral student and guide at The School of Plant Sciences and Food Security at The George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences, and Stav Levi, a student of architecture at the The David and Yolanda Katz Faculty of the Arts, whose partner, Idan Shtivi, was abducted in Gaza. The campus community came together to plant trees and flowers and tie yellow ribbons for the return of all captives.
“We hope that the planting of the boulevard will serve as a reminder to the university community, faculty and students, of your ability to help fulfill the versatile dreams of those who have fallen in all fields of knowledge, thus ensuring the continuity of their achievements and dreams”, said Prof. Porat.
“It’s hard to believe that in a little while, five months will have passed since October 7th, a day that will forever be remembered as a terrible disaster for the State of Israel and the Jewish people”, Prof. Porat continued. “The terrible thing that happened that we feel both as a nation, as a country and individually is a pain that does not pass with time, it only grows during this period. If there is a need for a painful reminder, we receive it every day. We all hope for the return of the captives and the recovery of the wounded, and the cessation of soldiers dying in battle. This grove is dedicated to the murdered and fallen, but it also contains a certain sign of hope for the return of the captives”. As Prof. Porat planted the first tree in the avenue, a solemn atmosphere took hold, carrying with it a firm commitment to never forget the sacrifices made. Miriam Haber shared her son’s, Zechariah Pesach’s, pursuits. Zechariah Pesach (RIP) had fallen in battle in Gaza on January 16th. Zechariah fell at the age of 32 and was a very dedicated husband and father to three young children. “The main thing about his fall is a heavy personal loss to his family and friends, but not only that. Zechariah’s choice in the field of plant health and his research topic – Wheat Cultivation Under Stress Conditions, stemmed from his deep love for the land of Israel, the ground of Israel, and all humanity. He chose to help with food security due to the difficult climate changes affecting the earth. We are convinced that his colleagues at TAU will continue to fulfill his scientific dreams”, said Miriam, moving the audience present at the ceremony, with the planting of a tree in memory of her son.   Miriam Haber speaking to campus members.
“The only way we will have resilience, as a nation and as a healthy society, will only be possible if the captives return home. I believe in light, in hope, in life, and all the hope and faith that together we will be able to fix what can still be fixed,” said Stav Levi, whose partner, Idan Shtivi, is captive in Gaza.
Stav asked to continue doing everything possible for the return of the captives. “Yesterday was Municipal Election Day, and it was an upsetting and chilling day for me, because since October 7th, the basic and existential choice for life itself has been taken from me. What choice does my Idan have now and other 133 citizens with him? They do not know if they will survive in the next minute. Idan, imprisoned in Gaza for 145 days by monsters, is afraid for his life and captured in abyssal fear. Will he receive food or water today? Or will he have to survive without? When will he be able to perform a basic action like speaking again, after being allowed only to whisper for 145 days? The only important choice here today is the choice of citizens who are currently abandoned in Gaza, the choice to fulfill the most basic and moral obligation of a state to its citizens”. Our hearts are always with the families of the fallen and the captives, and we all hope that they will all soon return to us in peace.

TAU Sets New Standards: Reservists Admitted Without Psychometric Exams

TAU introduces a new admissions pathway supporting reservists, evacuated citizens and families of fallen soldiers.

Tel Aviv University announced that for the next school year, many hundreds of students who serve in the IDF reserves will be eligible for admission to study for a bachelor’s degree through a new admission route that will be opened for them in all fields of study on campus (excluding medicine), without the need for a psychometric exam. The admission will be available to candidates who served 60 days or more in 2023 (starting from October 7th 2023) or those who served longer than 28 days in 2024 (from January 1st 2024).

The university recognizes and takes the difficulties that arose into consideration regarding the large amount of university candidates whose preparations for the psychometric exams conflicted with their active reserve duty. In addition, the university will also make the new admission route accessible to evacuees from the conflict lines (pending approval from the government).

According to the university’s decision, those eligible for the new admissions route would get accepted based solely on their high school matriculation grades. Each study program on campus will allocate approximately 10% of the total admissions for the upcoming year to students accepted through the new format. This decision, led by the TAU Rector, Prof. Mark Shtaif, was made after a comprehensive examination of these issues.

Boosting Academic Opportunities

TAU emphasizes that the adjustments in admissions to studies are part of the university’s deep commitment to the IDF reservists and to their success in their studies and are a recognition of the difficulty created by their service even during the application phase before they begin their studies. A significant amount of candidates take the psychometric exams in December and April. During this time, the reservists who took part in the war that started in October (and is still continuing over four months later) have encountered difficulties in preparing for, as well as and taking these exams.

In the current academic year, TAU promised to do as much as possible so that all reservists, men and women alike, complete their studies successfully. Prior to the start of the school year, the university approved a special plan for reservists that included a series of concessions and adjustments, including: a reduction in the number of hours required to complete the degree, the right to receive binary pass/fail grading in some of the courses, more flexibility in choosing exam dates and more.

In light of feedback from the campus as part of the ongoing dialogue with reservist students and the cooperation with the Student Union, the university recently approved additional adjustments, including specific ones for students who have served in the reserves for 28 days or more since the beginning of the semester. In addition, discussions are currently taking place at the university regarding the possible continuation of these concessions into second semester of the current school year as well.

Strength in Diversity: 1 Out of Every 3 Reservists on Campus is a Woman

At TAU, where the highest number of student reservists is found (34% of them being women), we are committed to providing unwavering support to our dedicated students.

Since October 7th, hundreds of thousands of citizens, including students, have answered the call for military duty, setting aside all personal responsibilities to protect civilians from the attacks of Hamas. According to new data concerning the initial months of the war, 6,657 students from TAU were called up for reserve duty, and among them, 2,228 were women (34%).

As of January 24th, after most reservists have been discharged, 2,545 students from Tel Aviv University are still serving in the military reserve duty, with 755 of them being women (29%).

Regarding the breakdown by faculties, out of the total 2,228 women in service, 481 came from the Faculty of Medical & Health Sciences, 394 from Engineering, 373 from Life Sciences and Exact Sciences, 308 from Social Sciences, 167 from Law, 100 from Humanities, 96 from Management and others. Further analysis reveals that the majority of male reservists came from the Faculty of Engineering (1,139), followed by Exact Sciences and Life Sciences (804), Medical & Health Sciences (483), Management (333), Social Sciences (301), Law (259), Humanities (238) and others.

Unity in Uniforms

Prof. Neta Ziv, Vice President for Equity, Diversity and Community commended the reservists on campus: “Indeed, the significant contribution of women is evident in all areas of life: military, public, and of course, civilian. Tel Aviv University recognizes and appreciates the contribution of reservists, and does everything to assist all its students who serve in the reserves to successfully integrate their service with the challenging academic year we are in the midst of.”

Shir Shachar, 28, an MA student in the Faculty of Medical & Health Sciences at Tel Aviv University: “I was recruited into the reserves immediately after the outbreak of the war and served as a researcher in the Ground Forces. Our team consisted of both men and women, and the feeling was very touching; each and every one of us contributed immensely to the joint war effort! The commitment, dedication and determination of every reservist in their role, whether in the field or behind the scenes, have a significant impact on success in combat—and only through joint work and commitment from everyone can we win”.

Shir Shachar, MA student in the Faculty of Medical & Health Sciences

Carmel Cohen, a third-year student in the Department of Theatre Arts: “The moment they called me up for reserve duty, I didn’t think twice and immediately reported to Home Front Command and served there for about three months. Every day we assisted civilians affected by the war, and the feeling was incredible; everyone does everything for the sake of the IDF and the country. These are tough times for us, and we try to help as much as we can. Recently, I returned to my studies, and I want to fulfill my dream of becoming an actress and making people smile. And of course, the moment they call me again, I’ll report immediately.”

Supporting Student Soldiers

Tel Aviv University is the largest and most diverse university in Israel with nearly 30,000 students. In recognition of our students’ devotion to their national and military responsibilities, TAU has been implementing many variations of assistance to assure their students’ well-being,  aiming to help students restore their academic, social and financial status.

In addition to postponing the academic year to ease the pressure on reservist students,  TAU has also made sure that all students who have served in the reserves are entitled to a scholarship ranging from 2,000 to 9,000 shekels, depending on their educational and natural needs. The scholarships are given to students as recognition for their service, understanding that they will also need to assign more time and effort to their studies and simultaneously re-adjust themselves back to their daily lives.

Moreover, TAU has arranged a special week for filling academic gaps and helping those who are still serving in the military with catching up on their studies. This is in addition to the ongoing hybrid and recorded studies conducted by the different Faculties.

According to the University President, Prof. Ariel Porat: “Tel Aviv University is committed to assisting its students who experience the hardships of war firsthand. This primarily includes reservists as well as our students from the south or north who have encountered economic and other difficulties as a result of the war. Our assistance and support is not only financial but also academic. None of our reservists, or any affected students, will be left behind”.

Tel Aviv University Helps Make Case Before International Court of Justice

Legal Delegation in Israel vs. South Africa Hearing included Alumni and Former Faculty.

On January 12, 2024, before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), a legal team representing Israel argued why a case by South Africa accusing the Jewish state of genocide in Gaza was not only unfounded and out of context, but dangerous to both Israel and the integrity and intent of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (aka the Genocide Convention). And, both before the court and behind the scenes at the ICJ hearing in The Hague that day, Tel Aviv University (TAU) was present in a significant way. One key contributor to Israel’s legal team is Prof. Eyal Benvenisti, who is the former head of the Parasol Foundation International L.L.M. Program at TAU and is currently appointed to the University of Cambridge. And while Benvenisti has been working behind the scenes, two TAU alumni were front and center on January 12, speaking before the court: Dr. Galit Raguan and Dr. Omri Sender.   Dr. Galit Raguan, an alumna of Tel Aviv University and a member of Israel’s legal delegation. (Image courtesy of the ICJ. All rights reserved) While a final resolution on the case is expected to take years, South Africa has requested that, in the interim, the ICJ make nine provisional/immediate orders, including ceasing all military action by Israel in the Gaza Strip. The outcome of the public hearings, which took place on January 11-12, will be a ruling related to these requested provisional measures.

Evidence Against South Africa’s Claims of Genocide

Both Raguan and Sender presented significant evidence contradicting the accusations made by South Africa. Raguan questioned the plausibility that Israel is committing genocide by outlining Israel Defense Forces (IDF) efforts both to protect civilian lives and to coordinate the delivery of humanitarian aid, and by demonstrating how Hamas contributes to the civilian death count in Gaza. Regarding Hamas’ role in civilian harm, Raguan stated that 2,000 rockets have thus far been misfired by Hamas within Gaza. She also presented evidence, including photos of weapons caches found by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), demonstrating Hamas’ embeddedness in civilian infrastructure, such as schools, places of worship and medical facilities. “In every single hospital that the IDF has searched in Gaza, it has found evidence of Hamas military use,” Raguan said.  
As for efforts made by the IDF to temporarily evacuate civilians and provide advance warnings, Raguan pointed to the establishment of humanitarian corridors, the millions of leaflets physically dropped into Gaza with instructions on how to evacuate, and the more than 70,000 individual phone calls made to Gazans.
  “While temporary evacuation undoubtedly involves hardship and suffering, it is preferable to remaining in areas of intensive hostilities,” said Raguan, who confirmed that temporary evacuation is a tool promoted under international humanitarian law. As presented by Israel’s legal team in court, the IDF found Hamas intelligence information and multiple weapons caches at Gaza’s Shifa Hospital, including in the MRI Center. (Image courtesy of the ICJ. All rights reserved) Raguan also outlined the role of the IDF’s dedicated military unit Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), which oversees border crossings from Israel and works with the United Nations (UN) and other international organizations to facilitate the entry of humanitarian aid into Gaza. Despite an attack on COGAT on October 7, Raguan said the unit has extended its operating hours at both the Kerem Shalom and Rafah crossings to receive more humanitarian goods. Raguan also said the unit has assisted with establishing four field hospitals and two floating hospitals, getting new ambulances into Gaza and the coordination of air drops. She highlighted how humanitarian assistance continues and that no limitations have been posed, even though “Hamas is regularly stealing aid at the expense of its own population.”

The Rights of Palestinians in Gaza to Exist

Following Raguan, Sender refuted South Africa’s accusation that there was an urgent risk of irreparable harm to Gazans for which Israel was responsible. He demonstrated instead how Israel supports the right to exist for Palestinians in Gaza. To establish this, Sender provided further illumination of how Israel assists with the delivery of humanitarian aid, which was continuing to increase: “when pressing needs are identified, solutions are soon coordinated” said Sender, also pointing to a dedicated operations room for humanitarian assistance made up of Israeli, Egyptian, American and UN representatives. Dr. Omri Sender, an alumnus of Tel Aviv University and a member of Israel’s legal delegation. (Image courtesy of the ICJ. All rights reserved) Sender noted that, before the war, approximately 70 trucks carrying food entered Gaza every day, whereas in the first two weeks of January 109 trucks entered each day. He also highlighted that the amount of cooking gas entering Gaza had doubled to 90 tons per day since December 21; moreover, since December 8, the amount of fuel entering Gaza had also doubled and now meets the target requested by the UN: 180,000 liters per day. Sender also pointed to the fact that the hostilities in Gaza are winding down, and he stated that Israel has already started to transition to a phase with fewer ground troops and less intense fighting. Furthermore, as argued by team lead Prof. Malcolm Shaw KC, South Africa also failed to effectively illustrate Israel’s intent to commit genocide. Given the case is at the provisional measures phase, genocidal acts do not have to be proven; demonstrating plausible intent would be enough for the court to intervene. However, as Shaw contended, to do this one must directly link any potential utterance or statement to on-the-ground policy. In this, South Africa failed, Shaw argued. A map of evacuation zones created by the IDF to assist with civilian safety was shared in court, along with a screenshot of an instructional video in Arab of how to use the map (Image courtesy of the ICJ. All rights reserved) To further support this claim, Shaw also provided evidence of daily IDF operational directives that, in accordance with international law and contradicting South Africa’s case, prioritize mitigating harm to and punishment of civilians.

The Legal Unfoundedness of the Case

A repeated statement made throughout the public hearing by Sender, Shaw and others was that, should the measures proposed by South Africa be upheld by the court, then Israel and its citizens would face irreparable harm given Hamas’ continued commitment (as additionally stated by Hamas leadership after October 7) to the destruction of Israel and the Jewish people. As Shaw argued, were the court to uphold South Africa’s requested provisional measures, then this would contradict the Genocide Convention itself, which protects the rights not only of the applicant (or who the applicant is representing), but the respondent. “Chief amongst these rights,” said Shaw, regarding Israel, “is the right and obligation to act, to defend itself and its citizens.” Members of Israel’s legal delegation at the International Court of Justice. (credit: UN Photo/ICJ-CIJ/Frank van Beek. Courtesy of the ICJ. All rights reserved) Moreover, the general omission of Hamas from South Africa’s case was something, the Israel team argued, that demonstrated a high level of prejudice:  
“The nightmarish environment created by Hamas has been concealed by the applicant, but it is the environment in which Israel is compelled to operate. What Israel seeks in operating in Gaza is not to destroy a people, but to protect a people – its people – who are under attack on multiple fronts.” —  Dr. Tal Becker, a member of Israel’s legal team
  Additionally, given that the Jewish state has had the right, as recognized by the international community, to defend itself after October 7, Israel’s legal team argued that events relating to the Israel-Hamas war should not even be evaluated under the Genocide Convention, but that the proper mechanism was the legal framework for war as guided by international humanitarian law. Finally, Shaw emphasized that Genocide Convention cases must be between two states in dispute. He argued that South Africa was in contravention of this and referenced an exchange of notes before the case was filed that demonstrated Israel’s willingness to meet and discuss South Africa’s concerns.

A Dangerous Precedent Could Be Set

While a ruling in support of South Africa’s provisional measures would pose a great danger to Israel, it would also pose significant harm to the integrity of the Genocide Convention: “Entertaining the applicant’s request will not strengthen the commitment to prevent the punishment of genocide but weaken it,” said Dr. Gilad Noam, who concluded the public hearing and Israel’s arguments.  
“It will turn an instrument adopted by the international community to prevent horrors of the kind that shocked the conscience of humanity during the Holocaust into a weapon in the hands of terrorist groups who have no regard for humanity or for the law.” — Dr. Gilad Noam, a member of Israel’s legal delegation
  At the end of the session on January 12, elected ICJ Judge and President Joan E. Donoghue said the court would make a deliberation “as soon as possible” on the provisional measures brought forward by South Africa. A decision is expected to be made in the coming weeks.

Tel Aviv University Marks 100 Days Since the Hamas Attack

TAU aimed to reflect on the impact the last 100 days of war on various fields of research, express our support families of the hostages, and to rally together in the cry to bring all hostages home.

On January 14, the Tel Aviv University community marked 100 days since the Hamas attack on Israel. In various events across campus, TAU aimed to reflect on the impact the last 100 days of war on various fields of research, express our support families of the hostages, and to rally together in the cry to bring all hostages home.

100 Minutes for 100 Days: Examining the Impact of War

The inaugural event, ‘100 Minutes for 100 Days,’ brought together researchers from diverse fields such as psychology, ecology, and information technology. Adopting a TED-style format, the researchers presented the impact the war has had on their various fields. The event concluded with a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Jeremy Fogel from the Department of Jewish Philosophy in the TAU Faculty of Humanities.

Prof Ariel Porat speaking at the ‘100 minutes for 100 days’ ceremony

“Tel Aviv University is an ark which will save us from the flood and allow us to build a new world that will come afterwards” (Dr. Jeremy Fogel)”

The event opened with an address from Prof. Ariel Porat, President of Tel Aviv University. In his speech, he rallied the university community, urging both faculty and students to unite and fortify national resilience. He remarked, “Our open wound does not cease to bleed. Since October 7, 15 of our students have lost their lives, and over 60 families within the university community have experienced the profound pain of losing their loved ones. We collectively mourn their tragic deaths and yearn for the safe return of the soldiers and all the hostages.”

Prof. Porat then spoke about the decision to start the fall semester. “We realized that if we don’t do this, everyone will be hurt. We created a support network to help our students who are currently serving in the IDF, so as not to let them fall behind in their studies.We all feel that we owe them a lot; that is a debt that will never be fully repaid. And now it’s our turn to protect them, their careers, and give back to them even a little in return for what they’re doing for all of us.”

For our national resilience it is important to try and maintain some kind of routine in the time of the war. This is crucial for the future of the State of Israel. “We cannot afford the luxury of putting the economy or higher education on hold, hoping that everything will somehow turn out fine. We mustn’t cease the production of doctors for the health system, engineers, tech professionals, psychologists, and more. It is imperative that we rise to the task of the national importance that lies before us,” he concluded.

Dr. Lior Zalmanson, a senior lecturer and assistant professor at the Technology and Information Management Program, Coller School of Management, specializes in studying human behavior in virtual environments. In his discussion, he explored the role of AI in wartime communication and how technology companies influence narratives. Dr. Zalmanson also highlighted the potential dangers of AI in our daily digital interactions, pointing out its capacity to introduce biases in opinions, particularly through the presentation of specific verbal or visual content.

Prof. Marcelo Sternberg, a climate change scholar and the head of the Plant Ecology Lab in the George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences, addressed a less-discussed aspect of the war’s impact. “I am excited to talk to you about a subject that may not receive much attention in the media,” he began, diving into topics such as soil contamination with heavy metals and explosives, the destruction of various habitats for plants and animals, the severe disruption to Israel’s food security caused by the shutdown of numerous farms in proximity to Gaza, and more.

Dealing with Post-Trauma

Dr. Michal Kahn, a licensed clinical psychologist and the head of Sleep Research laboratory from the Gershon H. Gordon School of Psychological Sciences in the Faculty of Social Sciences, is part of the team of therapists working at the newly opened National Trauma and Resilience Center, which operates on TAU campus and provides PTSD treatment at a nominal cost to affected civilians and IDF soldiers.

“These moments, face-to-face with the terrorists and the shootings, have, of course, been with her ever since – there is no escaping from them, ‘and yet’, as she tells me, I’m a simple case'”

The panel of experts. From the left to right: Dr. Lior Zalmanson, Dr. Michal Kahn, Prof. Marcelo Sternberg, and Dr. Jeremy Fogel

Kahn talked about the psychological aspect of the war, highlighting the increased incidence of anxiety disorders and PTSD. She also offered insights into potential treatment methods and provided a glimpse into her volunteer work with survivors of the Nova party.

“While they were being led into Gaza, Rimon asked Yagav ‘what should we do? They took your guitar that you love so much,’ and he answered with the simplicity that is so characteristic of him: ‘If one child learns to play and is happy, at least one good thing has happened'” (Nofer Buchstab, PhD student in the Faculty of Life Sciences, about the moment of her brother’s kidnapping)”

Unity and Remembrance: TAU Campus Rally

“Hundreds of people, including hostage family members, Prof. Ariel Porat (the President of the university), and Daniel Zilber (the chairman of the Student Union), participated in the rally held on the TAU campus. Classes were suspended for an hour, and the entire university community gathered in the rain to call for the release of all the hostages, who have been held captive in Gaza for 100 days.

Among those speaking at the rally were:

  • Nofer Buchstab, PhD student in the Faculty of Life Sciences, sister of Yagav Buchstab, kidnapped from Kibbutz Nirim together with his partner Rimon. Rimon was released from captivity, but Yagav is still held in Gaza.
  • Gil Dickman, cousin of Carmel Gat, who was kidnapped from Kibbutz Be’eri. Carmel is a graduate of the TAU Faculty of Medicine with a bachelor’s in occupational therapy and a graduate student in therapy and occupational therapy at the Hebrew University. Gil is a graduate of the School of Psychological Sciences at Tel Aviv University.
  • Merav Svirsky, sister of Itay Svirsky, who was kidnapped from Kibbutz Be’eri. Itay is a TAU graduate with degrees in psychology and economics. His cousin is Prof. Uri Ben-David from the Faculty of Medicine. Merav and Itay’s parents were murdered by Hamas on Black Sabbath on October 7.
  • Yifat Calderon, cousin of Ofer Calderon, who was kidnapped from Kibbutz Nir Oz, along with his children Sahar and Erez. Sahar and Erez were released, but Ofer still remains in captivity. Yifat is one of the leaders of the Hostage Forum that brings together relatives of the hostages.
  • Anat Shoshani, a student at the Faculty of Management, the granddaughter of Adina Moshe, who was kidnapped from the Nir Oz compound and released from captivity. Anat’s grandfather, Said Moshe, was murdered.
  • Stav Levy, a student at the School of Architecture, the partner of Idan Shativ, who was kidnapped from the Nova festival.

At the end of the campus rally, faculty members and students marched to the Hostage Square in the center of Tel Aviv to join the remembrance ceremony there.

The day concluded with a One Million Bells event held at the Lowy International School where members of TAU community gathered to ring bells for one full minute to show solidarity with the hostages.

Artist Doron Gazit presented a display featuring yellow balloons made from recycled materials, shaped in the form of the iconic yellow ribbon associated with the ongoing effort for the return of the hostages.

Voices of Resilience and Hope Echo in Solidarity

Lowy International School Marks 100 Days since October 7.

On January 14, the Lowy International School community commemorated 100 days since October 7, marking a somber milestone with 136 hostages held captive during all this time. TAU international students met with October 7 survivors and hostage representatives, and the bell-ringing ceremony was held in the afternoon to call for the release of all hostages.

Making the Voice of Israel Heard

October 7 survivors and hostage representatives came to the Lowy International School to share their stories with the members of the Israel War Story social media task force run by TAU international students who strive to combat misinformation online regarding the Israel-Hamas war. The seminar was a joint initiative of the task force and Talk Israel and Israel Is movements. Together, the session participants brainstormed ways of sharing authentic stories on social media to reach a wider audience around the world and make the voice of Israel heard.    

Kayla Goldberger (USA), 2nd year student in BA in Management and Liberal Arts:

“This is the first time I’ve heard someone talk first-hand about the Nova festival. It is a different experience and it humanizes the experience of what is going on.  
One of the main takeaways for me today is how raw everything still is – everyone is still grieving here in Israel. I also saw how important and valuable sharing survivors’ stories is.”

Stefanie M. Schulz (Germany), a graduate of the master’s program in Security and Diplomacy:

“The most important and special part of the day was getting to meet the survivor of the Nova festival and people advocating on behalf of the hostage families. The social media training was also useful even if there wasn’t a lot of new material. It was good to hear advice on how to present content. It confirmed our feeling that authentic content, even if it’s less professional, has better reach.”  

Ring to Remember, Ring to Reclaim, Ring to Return

At 4 pm, the TAU community gathered at the Lowy International School to ring bells for one full minute as part of the global One Million Bells initiative to show solidarity with the hostages.     As Dr. Inon Schenker, Initiative Creator, explains: “Bells have been a powerful tool for centuries. One bell can warn of danger and save a village; One million bells may shake the world, herald hope and mark a line between humanity and evil. October 7th, 2024 must be remembered globally as a defining moment against terror.”  
The sound of the bells echoed three powerful messages calling everyone to remember the murdered, injured, their families and loved ones; reclaim a world without terror, antisemitism, bigotry, and racism; and return the remaining hostages immediately.

Maureen Adiri Meyer, Director, The Lowy International School:

“As the international school at TAU, we have always recognized the importance of global understanding and unity – particularly on our international campus. As we mark 100 days, having bells ring out around the world reminds us of the power of community, remembrance, and solidarity and how much it is needed right now.”     TAU Rector Prof. Mark Shtaif extended his heartfelt condolences to the families of all the war casualties and expressed sincere hope for the swift release of the hostages and a resolution to the conflict. Tal, a representative from the Hostage Forum, underscored the urgency of advocating for the prompt liberation of hostages. American actress and performer Jade Taylor sang at the event, accompanied by Ido Montaniez.   Ido Montaniez and Jade Taylor at the Lowy International School Partners of the One Million Bells initiative included the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, World Zionist Organization, Center for Jewish Impact, major hotel chains, the Stock Exchange, United Nations for Israel, Impact for Healthy Future, NOVA, and global faith organizations.

University of Pennsylvania’s Solidarity Visit to Tel Aviv University

Understanding Trauma and Building Collaborations.

Against the backdrop of escalating concerns regarding antisemitism on American university campuses, a significant delegation from the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) embarked on a solidarity visit to Tel Aviv University on January 4. The purpose of their visit was twofold: to express unwavering support for their Israeli counterparts and to gain profound insights into the aftermath of the harrowing events that transpired on October 7. The collaborative effort resulted in a joint symposium titled “October 7th: Coping with Trauma,” a comprehensive exploration of social, political, and psychological perspectives. Prof. Michael Kahana, from the University of Pennsylvania, who initiated the open letter in support of Israel and the current visit said: ‘In the weeks after October 7, we felt very distant in physical space, but very close in emotional space. I’m gratified that so many colleagues, many of whom I haven’t even met before joined me on this visit.”  
“Together we’ll come out of this stronger.”— Michael Kahana, Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Term Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania
  Michael Kahana, Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Term Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania TAU President Ariel Porat thanked the UPenn delegation for their visit: “It’s important for us to have people like you come to us during these most difficult times ever because these days we need friends.  
“Choosing to come shows support and empathy for people in Israel and Israeli universities.” TAU President Ariel Porat

TAU Rises to the Challenge

Addressing the challenges the university faced since the war’s inception, Ariel Porat explained that, immediately after October 7, up to one-third of undergraduates were called up for reserve duty. As a result, the academic year was postponed by more than two months and only started on December 31 to avoid losing the full academic year. Special provisions were instituted to aid reserve soldiers in completing their academic commitments while still being on active duty. Beyond logistical challenges, potential tension between Jewish and Arab communities on campus posed an additional hurdle. TAU, committed to fostering a safe environment for all, undertook substantial efforts to ensure a smooth start to the academic year without incidents.
“We are sensitive to free speech, even when it collides with other values. Even in times of war, democracy, human rights and civil rights are not suspended,” commented President Porat.
Notably, TAU, unlike some other Israeli universities, refrained from expelling students expressing views related to the October 7th massacre without following proper legal procedures.  

Navigating Trauma through Cinema

Renowned Israeli filmmaker Avi Nesher, drawing from his extensive experience, presented a unique perspective on trauma through the lens of cinema. Reflecting on two of his films, The Matchmaker and The Image of Victory, Nesher underscored cinema’s role in shaping a nation’s mythology and the imperative of acknowledging conflicting narratives.   The Matchmaker delves into the profound bond uniting the Israeli people, formed as a reaction to the Holocaust. Nesher highlighted the collective post-trauma stemming from the Holocaust, an ever-present yet unspoken force in the national psyche. The events of October 7, by reactivating this deep-seated trauma, resonated profoundly with the nation.   Professor Peter Decherney (UPenn), film director Avi Nesher, film scholar Dr Shmulik Duvdevani  
“We don’t want to think about ourselves as lamb to slaughter. Locked into a collective, locked into post-holocaust trauma, we’ll all emerge only as a collective.” — Avi Nesher, filmmaker
  In The Image of Victory, which recounts the 1948 Egyptian raid on a kibbutz, Nesher weaves together opposing narratives. He argued that cinema’s power lies in compelling audiences to confront and ultimately acknowledge uncomfortable truths.  
“If there are two conflicting narratives, the conflict can go on forever. Sympathy is possible when you honor the narrative you don’t agree with and learn to co-exist.”
  Nesher added that the complete negation of the Israeli narrative witnessed on many university campuses felt like a major betrayal as universities are the first places where conflicting narratives should be embraced.  

A Dive into the Background to the War

Prof Itamar Rabinovitch, former TAU President, ambassador to the US (1993-1996), and Visiting Professor at UPenn, Harvard, and Stanford, provided a succinct political analysis of the ongoing conflict. Describing the events of October 7 as the most severe crisis since the establishment of the state, he attributed the crisis to failures in politics, policy, intelligence, and military execution.   Prof Itamar Ravinovitch, former TAU President, ambassador to the US (1993-1996), and Visiting Professor at UPenn, Harvard, and Stanford   The internal divide in the country, exacerbated by attempts to weaken democracy, created an opportunity for adversaries. The policy to cultivate Hamas at the expense of the Palestinian Authority backfired, leading to a significant transfer of Qatari money into the hands of Hamas. Intelligence failures compounded the situation, resulting in a delayed response from the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). Prof Rabinovitch stressed that the current conflict is not merely a war with Gaza but represents the first war between Israel and Iran, with an uncertain resolution and future plans for Gaza.  
However, the strength and resilience of the Israeli civil society inspire optimism about the future.

Understanding Trauma: Psychological and Social Dimensions

The symposium’s third panel, Perspectives on Trauma, provided a comprehensive examination of psychological and social dimensions. Prof Talma Hendler, the session moderator, highlighted the collective impact of the October 7 events on every individual in Israel, creating a shared sense of group trauma. Prof. Bruria Adiri presented findings from a longitudinal study initiated post-attack, assessing distress and resilience across various social groups. Initial measurements in mid-October revealed unprecedented distress levels, gradually subsiding by November. Societal resilience exhibited a peak on October 23, marked by diverse groups coming together in solidarity. However, over time, societal resilience experienced a decline, while individual resilience continued to grow.  
Factors influencing individual resilience included hope, community resilience, government support, and religiosity.
  Higher vulnerability was noted among 30 to 40-year-olds, potentially attributed to heightened stressors related to finances, careers, family responsibilities, and uncertainty about the future.  

Addressing Mental Health Challenges Post-Attack

Prof Gil Zaisman delved into mental health issues, outlining contributing factors to post-traumatic stress in the Israeli population. The October 7 attack, marked by extreme cruelty and sexual violence, triggered PTSD even in those not directly involved, exacerbated by the online dissemination of terrorist-recorded footage.   To counteract these effects, Israeli mental health professionals initiated various initiatives. Immediate victims were treated, and initiatives like the Regional Trauma Center, Daycare Unit for Sexual Victims, and Center for Children and Adolescents were established. Additionally, Prof Yair Bar-Haim detailed the creation of the National Center for PTSD at TAU, initially planned for late 2025. The unprecedented scale of the October 7 attack necessitated an accelerated timeline, with the center treating its first patients on January 1. In addition to providing treatment for individuals affected by PTSD, researchers at TAU are actively working on preventative measures for soldiers. They employ software designed to train soldiers in directing their attention to potential threats, a method proven to substantially decrease the risk of developing PTSD. Following the events of October 7, a team led by Prof. Bar-Haim developed a dedicated app, which was subsequently distributed to the mobile phones of all soldiers in active combat units.  

Gender Dynamics in the Aftermath of October 7

Prof Daphna Hacker, an expert on women studies and member of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, explored the gender aspect of the war. With Israel being the first and only country with mandatory military service for both men and women, 36% of TAU students called up for reserve duty are women, many of whom are engaged in active combat.  
Notably, an all-female tank unit successfully repelled a Hamas attack on a kibbutz on October 7, fighting for an astounding 17 hours
    At the same time, many Israeli women and girls became victims of sexual violence on October 7. The shock over mass casualties initially prioritized victim identification and burial over forensic evidence collection, complicating international acknowledgment of the violence. To compound the issue, irresponsible domestic discourse about the scope of sexual violence has caused significant moral panic in Israel. Another serious gender issue is the struggle to secure the release of hostages held by Hamas. The Red Cross has not been allowed to visit hostages, making it impossible to establish their health condition and to properly prioritize those who need to be released first.  
All hostages, irrespective of their gender, should be brought home.
  The final aspect Prof Hacker highlighted is the absence of women at the decision-making level, with all the crucial decisions on the war, ceasefire, hostage release and so on made by men.
  In Gaza, where at least 50% of women report domestic violence, the devastating humanitarian crisis is the outcome of men’s actions and women are overrepresented only on the victim side.
  Women are active in the struggle for peace – two Tel Aviv University professors established The Day after the War multidisciplinary academic action forum that calls on the Israeli government to declare that it has no intention of occupying Gaza and to join an international coalition that would force Hamas to surrender. All those who live on this tiny piece of land on both sides of the disputed borders are traumatized by nationalism, militarism, religious fanaticism, and sexism.  

Coping with Trauma: Captivity and Its Aftermath

Dr. Yael Lahav explored captivity trauma, emphasizing exposure to multiple stressors, including torture, sexual abuse, deprivation, and isolation. Homecoming for former hostages becomes a challenging transition, with difficulties in feeling safe and resuming normalcy amid destroyed homes and lost loved ones. The harsh realities faced by returning hostages contribute to long-term health issues, premature aging, and early mortality. Moreover, secondary traumatization affects the family and friends of hostages, manifesting as PTSD symptoms. Dr. Lahav underscored the need for comprehensive mental health support and societal understanding to facilitate the reintegration of former hostages into daily life.     Prof Karen Avraham, Dean of the TAU Faculty of Medicine; Prof Michael Kahana, Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Term Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania; Prof Milette Shamir, TAU VP International; Prof Itzhak Fried, Professor-in-Residence, Neurosurgery, University of California Los Angeles  

Academic Collaborations and Concerns

Milette Shamir, in concluding discussions, expressed concern over the rising wave of academic boycotts, particularly in social sciences, law, and humanities. While acknowledging supportive gestures, such as the EU postponing grant application deadlines for Israeli researchers, she stressed the importance of countering academic boycotts. Members of the UPenn delegation expressed heartfelt support for their Israeli counterparts. They proposed ideas to expand research collaborations and study abroad opportunities for both American and Israeli students. Suggestions included summer programs, research internships, undergraduate scholarships, and joint projects, reflecting a commitment to strengthening academic ties amidst challenging times. In essence, the UPenn solidarity visit to TAU served not only as a gesture of support but also as a platform for interdisciplinary discussions on trauma, resilience, and the collaborative pursuit of knowledge.  
As both institutions navigate the complex aftermath of October 7, the shared commitment to academic collaboration stands as a testament to the enduring power of education and understanding in times of adversity.

Tel Aviv University Urgently Launches a National PTSD Clinic for Civilians and Soldiers

Responding to the massive incidence of PTSD following the war.

Tel Aviv University is launching a National PTSD Clinic in response to urgent needs. The Clinic serves as the therapeutic arm of TAU’s National Center for Traumatic Stress and Resilience, which combines research, training, and intervention in the field of post-trauma and related mental health disorders. In the coming year, the Clinic is expected to treat large numbers of civilians and reserve soldiers suffering from PTSD as a result of the war or other causes. The Clinic will receive patients referred by the Ministry of Defense and the National Insurance Institute, as well as private citizens seeking treatment. Therapists are top PTSD clinicians, whose cumulative experience adds up to hundreds of years.

Officials at TAU stress that the construction of the Miriam and Moshe Shuster Building for the Center for Traumatic Stress and Resilience, including a Treatment Clinic, cutting-edge laboratories and the Sam and Agi Moss Wing, commenced a year ago, with the intention of opening it in 2025. However, due to the war, TAU decided to make the necessary adaptations and open the Clinic immediately in specially allocated temporary premises. The goal is to enable an immediate therapeutic response to as many patients as possible, thereby bolstering Israel’s depleted mental health system which, even before the war, was unable to meet the population’s real needs. Civilians privately seeking therapy will pay a nominal fee. The generosity of many donors in Israel and worldwide, with special thanks to Peter and Elaine Smaller, has enabled the Clinic’s establishment.

Prof. Yair Bar-Haim, Head of the Center: “Cautious estimates speak of 30,000 new cases of PTSD and related pathologies resulting from the war. We have harnessed TAU’s academic and therapeutic resources to provide an immediate response to as many sufferers as possible.”

In the first stage, the Clinic will provide treatments with proven efficacy for adults. Reserve soldiers referred by the Rehabilitation Department of the Ministry of Defense will also be treated. Later on, as the program for adults is consolidated, additional programs for children, teens, and families will be offered as well. The Clinic will be led by Dr. Ofir Levi, formerly Commander of the IDF’s Unit for PTSD, and currently teaching at TAU’s Bob Shapell School of Social Work. The National Center for Traumatic Stress and Resilience is headed by Prof. Yair Bar Haim of TAU’s School of Psychological Sciences.

TAU President Prof. Ariel Porat: “Until Oct. 6th, our plan was to open the Clinic of our National Center for Traumatic Stress and Resilience about two years from now. However, the events of Oct. 7 convinced us that the Clinic must be launched as soon as possible. Unfortunately, PTSD has become a nationwide affliction in Israel, and we as a university are aware of the needs of Israeli society, especially now, at one of the most difficult times we have known as a country and as a people. We intend to bring relief and new hope to thousands of soldiers and civilians emotionally impacted by the massacre and the war. I am certain that the Clinic will expand its activities in the coming years and make an important contribution to the State of Israel – thanks in great part to our bighearted and committed donors, and especially Peter and Elaine Smaller.

Prof. Yair Bar-Haim, Head of the Center: “Right after Oct. 7, when information about the extent of the trauma began to accumulate, we realized there would be large numbers of PTSD sufferers who require long-term professional treatment. Estimates speak of 30,000 new cases of PTSD and related pathologies resulting from the current war. So, we decided to undertake this national mission, harnessing TAU’s academic resources and vast professional knowledge on treating PTSD to provide reliable treatment for large numbers of people. Israel’s best PTSD therapists responded to our call and joined the Clinic’s permanent staff. The Clinic is expected to be the leading facility of its kind in Israel, focusing on the treatment of emotional trauma and related morbidity. The therapeutic team will support sufferers from initial diagnosis to the successful completion of treatments offered at the Clinic.”

Dr. Ofir Levi, Head of the Clinic: “I served in the IDF for 25 years, including almost a decade as Commander of the Unit for PTSD – during and after the Second Lebanon War and the ensuing operations Cast Lead, Pillar of Defense, and Protective Edge. Based on my experience, I know that a great professional challenge awaits us at the new Clinic. Our mission is founded upon our will and ability to provide the best and most effective care to those who seek our help. To this end we have recruited therapists specializing in PTSD with many years of experience in treating various kinds of trauma and implementing diverse methods of therapy. Together with senior clinicians from TAU’s Schools of Psychological Sciences and Social Work, we have formulated a treatment policy adapted to the various stages of trauma, to enable a response to different populations.”

Planning for Postwar Israel

TAU hosted a hackathon to tackle the urgent challenges which will persist “the day after” Iron Swords.

No one knows when Iron Swords will end, but it is clear that new ideas will be needed to deal with the damage caused to Israel and its citizens. Tel Aviv University students Amitai Mintzer and Nir Komem rose to the task. They conceived and implemented a hackathon, “HackTAU: The Day After,” together with Tel Aviv University’s Entrepreneurship Center. After months with no students on campus, about 230 arrived from 15 different academic institutions along with 70 academic and professional mentors to look for creative ways to solve the various crises facing Israel right now. The Big Idea  Komem and Mintzer have been close friends since serving in the army together. Komem is an undergraduate student at the Buchmann Faculty of Law and the Interdisciplinary Humanities Program as well as a Rothschild Program Ambassador; Mintzer is an MA student in Anthropology and is in the Adi Lautman Interdisciplinary Program for Outstanding Students. “After October 7th, everyone wanted to do something to help right then and there. We thought, someone needs to plan for what’s next,” said Mintzer.  
“As we see it, academia is the ideal venue for this task. The problems we’re facing as a society are huge and we need new ideas to solve them. Academia is in charge of creating new ideas and connecting people with ideas to each other.”
  Komem expanded: “As we see it, academia is the ideal venue for this task. The problems we’re facing as a society are huge and we need new ideas to solve them. Academia is in charge of creating fresh ideas and connecting people with ideas to each other. And as students, we have to remind ourselves that we are qualified to help. If we’re good enough to fight in Gaza, and we’re good enough to help as volunteers, then our generation is good enough to plan for the future.”   Nir Komem (left) and Amitai Mintzer present their idea on day one HackTAU. (Photo: Yael Tzur)   The first step was identifying the challenges that needed addressing, so the two contacted as many people from around the country as they could find to ask what problems were most pressing. Six main challenges arose: Housing and Community: Finding a solution for the hundreds of thousands of displaced citizens from the north and south of Israel, and the urgent need to restore the social ties in these communities. Education: Adapting educational institutions to the new needs of students and creating a safe space for children and youth. Agriculture: Leveraging the acute need to rehabilitate the agricultural sector in Israel as an opportunity to integrate innovative solutions in the industry. Mental health: Developing various programs addressing national trauma and engaging in mental health from a collective perspective. Jewish-Arab Relations: Creating a vision and plan for a sustainable Jewish-Arab partnership and peaceful co-existence on academic campuses. Humanities: Focusing on the moral and human crises developing during these times within the region and worldwide.   Komem and Mintzer’s next step was to recruit students to head up each challenge along with academic and professional mentors to help bring ideas to fruition. “It’s like we had six hackathons at once,” says Mintzer. Thinking Together  One of the exceptional features of the event was the large diversity of thinkers it brought together to innovate for Israel’s future. Students of all disciplines, communities, and backgrounds came from all over the country to form 50 teams. There was even a group of eighth graders who came to observe but in the end were welcomed to participate.  
I was blown away by this event—the number of students, the quality of the work, the ideas people brought, and the groundbreaking new ways of thinking.” 
  “We had here something truly singular,” said Agricultural Challenge student head Itai Rozitzki, who is getting his BA at TAU in Philosophy and Law. He had been on reserve duty for two months and chose to spend three of his rare days off-base at the hackathon. “In every disaster, those who can see the opportunity to improve the world can benefit in the long run. I was blown away by this event—the number of students, the quality of the work, the ideas people brought, and the groundbreaking new ways of thinking.” Many students already had ideas upon arriving, some with teams already in place, while others came with simply a will to help their country. They were matched up based on ideas and interests with the help of mentors. Komem and Mintzer made sure each challenge had both an academic advisor who could help direct the ideation process, as well as a professional advisor who knew how to put the ideas into action.   One team develops their solution by listening to each other’s thoughts. (Photo: Yael Tzur) Each challenge had two or more teams cooking up different ideas and working in different ways. For example, in the Jewish-Arab Relations Challenge, one group focused on the urgent creation of solidarity in this time of division while the other attempted a more long-term program that could continue during calmer times for years to come. Said Elinor Shechter, the Hebrew University student head of the Jewish-Arab Relations Challenge, “it’s not uncommon to be a Jewish or Arab student and not talk to each other for the whole year. We wanted to try to mitigate that separation.” Entrepreneurial Support    When Komem and Mintzer approached the TAU administration with their idea, they were connected with the University’s Entrepreneurship Center. It is considered one of the leading startup accelerators in Israel and has led to the establishment of 18 startups that have raised approximately $155 million. The Center hosts several hackathons a year, including one during the COVID-19 pandemic which culminated in a remote-exam solution that was picked up for commercialization.  
“The purpose of the Entrepreneurship Center is to encourage creative thinking and bring students new tools for implementing innovative ideas and projects. All these were reflected in the hackathon.”
  Said Founder and Managing Director Mr. Yair Sakov, “The purpose of the Entrepreneurship Center is to encourage creative thinking and give students new tools for implementing innovative ideas and projects. All these were reflected in the hackathon. On a personal note, I wanted to support this project because shortly after the war started, I volunteered for five weeks with the evacuees from southern Israel. The close interactions familiarized me with their challenges and needs intimately. “Strong communities like the kibbutzim are losing people who do not want to return to the Gaza border area. For those who want to return, it is not clear where they will go after their homes were destroyed. The residents of the south who were involved in activities to bring Arabs and Jews together completely lost trust in their neighbors who they helped and fostered friendships with for years.  These are exactly the challenges identified for the hackathon. They are core issues for the residents of the south and the State of Israel in general,” Sakov said.   Yair Sakov speak at the HackTAU final presentation. (Photo: Yael Tzur)   Another integral supporter of the event was Allon Ventures, founded by Dr. Ori Allon. Dr. Allon, who has founded and successfully sold multiple software-based businesses, strongly believes in the positive impact technology has on our world. He is thrilled to support the upcoming generation of innovators who are using their talents to address critical issues. Unique Solutions  At the end of three intensive days, students from each challenge got up in front of their peers and presented fully-formed projects complete with goals, expected difficulties, and resource needs. “We’re hoping these projects will continue beyond the hackathon, and we’ll be setting up a website for the purpose of connecting professionals in the field as well as possible supporters to the student project creators,” said Komem. Added Mintzer, “as a humanities student I feel that academia is where we grapple with tough questions, and where we learn and think about value and meaning. Many people are interested in what will happen after the hackathon, but for me what’s important is that we’re making an academic space where students can take control of their lives and the future of their country. Even though we are all different, we can work together to create the country we want to see.”   You can read about each project in Hebrew here.

Stand with Lone Soldiers on the Front Lines: Donate to Send Care Packages

GoFundMe campaign started by the Lowy International School to fund the purchases.

Currently in Israel, brave men and women are fighting on the front lines defending our freedom and protecting our homeland. Many of them are IDF lone soldiers, who risk their lives in combat zones far away from their homes and communities. Students from The Lowy International School, together with the Yahalom Foundation, have launched an initiative to send care packages to support such soldiers and show our appreciation. Emma Brachfeld, an MA student in Environmental Studies at Tel Aviv University, initiated the idea after observing individuals in the US sending funds for various military units in Israel. The goal is “to help support soldiers, specifically lone soldiers who do not have a support system here in such a harrowing time.” Yishai Stern, the organizer of the campaign on GoFundMe, himself a reservist, a TAU student, and a Lowy International student counselor, adds:  
“We want to give back to the community of lone soldiers, ensuring they know we are here for them and sending our love to the front lines, wishing them a safe return.”
  Around ten Lowy International students have been called up for reserve duty, and in the broader TAU community, there are many more lone soldiers. The care packages will go out to all of them, with comforts, Kosher baked goods, and warm items suitable for the coming winter months. The necessary items will be purchased with the money raised through the campaign. Additionally, on the baking day at the Lowy International office, the team will make cookies to add to the packages, which will be delivered to military bases in the south and north of Israel.   Yishai Stern (Photo courtesy of Yishai Stern) Yishai explains, “Now that some time has passed since the start of the war, soldiers mostly have everything they need, so our care packages are more about extras—to show extra love.
It could be warm things, such as blankets to make the nights feel more homey and comforting, or other items to brighten their days, like backgammon boards for soldiers to pass the time between missions.
Every contribution, big or small, goes a long way to help us reach our goal of making as many lone soldier nights warmer as possible.


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