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TAU Trip to the Gaza Envelope: Solemn, Yet Essential Experience

Lowy International graduate students witness firsthand the aftermath of October 7th.

In early May, Conflict Resolution & Mediation and Security & Diplomacy MA students embarked on a visit to the Gaza Envelope, including the Nova festival site and the now-infamous “car cemetery,” to witness firsthand the aftermath of October 7th. 

For Dalia Gabay, who is studying Conflict Resolution & Mediation, it was a solemn yet essential experience that brought the reality of this conflict to light. Gabay has shared her account of the trip:

However close or involved one has felt to that day’s horrific events and ensuing war by merely being in Israel or through media coverage and seminars, this trip offered a stark reminder of the profound devastation and ongoing heartbreak experienced by Israel’s southern communities and families. 

“Our tour guide, Colonel Grisha Yakubovich, who served in the IDF, concluding his military service in 2016 as the head of C.O.G.A.T. (Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories), met us at the Yad Mordechai intersection. He continues to facilitate cooperative enterprises between Israelis and Palestinians and his wealth of knowledge, expertise and personal anecdotes, offered us a realistic insight into the complexities of life and relations across the region for both communities.

Colonel Grisha Yakubovich, the tour guide

Yair, born and raised at Kibbutz Yad Mordechai (aptly named after Mordechai Anielewicz, commander of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising) and now a father of four, showed us around Moshav Netiv HaAsara, just 400 meters away from the Gaza Strip.

Yair talking about Moshav Netiv HaAsara

Inevitably, the moshav was severely hit on October 7, with some 24 residents massacred. The moshav has been deserted but the bullet-ridden walls, trees and disheveled remnants of the attack were enough to communicate the sheer terror of that fateful day; the fear was palpable.

Yair shared tales of unimaginable tragedy and bravery from these close-knit communities, including his own. His kibbutz had prepared for such an event and quickly mobilized as soon as the red alert sirens sounded at around 6:30 AM. “It felt different that day,” he recounted.

While he sat armed in his living room, ready to defend his family locked in the adjoining safe room, the kibbutz security team repelled the terrorist attack at the gate and successfully chased the perpetrators away. 

At Netiv HaAsara, he showed us the shelter where a father sacrificed his own life to shield his two sons from the impact of a hand grenade. The boys narrowly escaped being kidnapped and survived the harrowing ordeal.

This is the stuff of legends: October 7th bestowed heroism upon individuals who will forever remain ingrained in Israel’s collective memory. 

Yair’s poignant account of life for Israeli residents in the Gazan Envelope, where enduring PTSD from relentless rocket attacks over 16 years is commonplace, will stay with me forever. Their remarkable resilience shines through, yet it’s disheartening to hear how these communities have endured such extreme and volatile conditions for so long, while the government and wider Israeli society appear to observe with almost complacent indifference.

I sincerely hope that the end of this war will bring them much needed solace and pave the way for a return to the peaceful, idyllic life that Yair fondly remembers from his childhood in the region.

Israel’s own “ground zero” where Sderot’s police station once stood, was completely destroyed in the aftermath of Hamas’ invasion and murderous rampage.

Sderot’s police station

Plans are underway for a memorial to honor the lives lost and serve as a lasting reminder of October 7th. 

A playground in Sderot

In Sderot, we also visited a children’s playground that’s been adapted to train, and protect youngsters from barrages of rocket attacks. This is the sad reality of Israel’s southern citizens. 

A shelter in Sderot

A nearby shelter ended up the final resting place of fleeing Nova festival goers, including Shani Gabay, who happens to share my surname. May her memory forever be a blessing.

The car cemetery

 The scene at the “car cemetery,” where burnt and damaged vehicles lay, many with occupants inside, was haunting.

The images captured the terror inflicted upon innocent civilians during this unprecedented attack.

Our journey concluded at Re’im, the Nova festival site, where makeshift memorials were tended to by grieving parents and friends.

Memorials at the Nova festival site

It left many of us in tears as we headed home, somberly reflecting on all that we had witnessed throughout the day.”  

“Personally, I needed to go on this trip. The trip reinforced my commitment to my studies in the hope that I’ll be able to contribute in some way towards a peaceful future for all Israelis and Palestinians in our shared land.”

 Text and pictures by Dalia Gabay

“If Then There Was a Rebuilding of Personal and National Lives, So Shall It Happen Again”

Professor Dina Porat’s Remarks at the Holocaust Remembrance Day Ceremony at TAU

The Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony, honoring the survivors of the Holocaust and commemorating its victims, took place on the Tel Aviv University campus, attended by a large audience of students, faculty, administrative staff, and other guests. The sentiment was that this year, more than ever, it is crucial to recount and commemorate what happened to our brothers and sisters. Alongside this, to illustrate the extensive number of those abducted and remaining captive in Gaza, the audience stood up and counted together up to 132. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

“We have no right to forget, no authority to forgive, and we are committed to testify and document”

Prof. Eyal Zisser, the University’s Vice Rector, delivered opening remarks: “Every year at this time, and especially this year, once again we find that the modesty of words fail to convey the magnitude of horror and the extent of loss. There are no words capable of explaining and no language capable of containing. It happened! For millions, millions of real people, Jews like you and me, like us, whose only sin was being Jewish. In our distress, we find solace in the elevation of stories of bravery and humanity who were like scattered beacons in the fields of darkness and death. Even today, we continue to draw strength from these stories and learn about the sanctity of life, determination, and resilience – qualities that human beings are capable of even in the face of the most horrific circumstances”.

“This year, an additional dimension of pain is added to this day, under the shadow of the war we have been in since the terror attack on October 7, in which Jews were slaughtered in a manner and scale we had not known since the Holocaust. The call ‘Never again’ reverberates as a cornerstone of our existence here, on this land, uniting us in a shared destiny that will not be erased. Here we are, hurting, sad, longing, but still standing tall and proud, continuing to say ‘Never again.’ However, we cannot define ourselves solely as the Jewish phoenix, rising and falling, rising from the ashes. As we face the challenges at the forefront of Israel’s development, we must continue to build and establish a democratic society and a rich culture here. Thus, we will ensure that here, in the flourishing enterprise in the land of our forefathers, the Jewish people will merit defense and security, and will continue to grow, develop, and be an example for the nations of the world”.

 

פרופ' אייל זיסר ואיריס בן משה

Prof. Eyal Zisser and Iris Ben-Moshe

“In their deaths, they commanded us to have hope”

Danielle Zilber, Chair of the Student Union, urged the student body to remember their role as the future of the State of Israel.

Part of the significance of remembering the fallen is to carry their lost hopes… We must not only remember but remind, remind the world of the horrors that occurred and not let them forget no matter how much time has passed since the Holocaust. In the name of the fallen, we sit here today, with the lost hope of 6 million of our brothers and sisters. In their name we say never again, and in their name, we have to remember.

A Lighthouse in the Darkness of the Holocaust

David Gur, an activist in the underground Zionist movements in Hungary and currently chairman of the Association for the Study of Zionist Youth Movements in Hungary, took the stage with his granddaughter.

.I am 98 years old. During the war, I was 18, younger than all of you. Today, I came to speak about hope and heroism, not about victims, pain, and loss

Thanks to the activity of the underground in which he participated, the lives of thousands of Jews were saved, as they provided documents and ensured food and shelter for many orphaned children. ‘I am grateful that I was part of the unique and immense rescue operation of the Zionist Youth Movement underground in Hungary. The existence of the underground, the bravery of young Jews facing terrifying forces, deserves to be heard and remembered as part of the sources of the Jewish people, and to pass on their story as an example of resistance, a struggle to save Jews, and unity in rescue actions and unity of hope, inspiration, and lessons for generations to come’.

 

דוד גור ונכדתו

David Gur and granddaughter 

The Bigger the Crime, the Deeper the Denial

Professor Dina Porat, the leading historian of ‘Yad Vashem’ and professor emeritus in the Jewish History Department at Tel Aviv University’s Stephen Roth Institute., shared the personal tragedy that happened to her family residing in communities surrounding Israel and asked three questions about which every one of us will need to think about how to answer.

“This Holocaust Remembrance Day, it seems that all of us feel very differently from the previous ones. The events of October 7th immediately raised a series of associations and memories of realities and testimonies that had long become a collective memory. The word ‘Holocaust’ to describe the murder of Jews by the Nazis and their helpers was not chosen by a committee or an academic institution. Its use arose spontaneously from the public, and not by chance: it is a biblical expression, describing a natural force that suddenly appears, unexpectedly, without prior knowledge, without preparation. Not only did the word ‘Holocaust’ and not only did the associations arise immediately, but also questions that have accompanied us since the Holocaust, and perhaps we can draw on the experience accumulated since then.

“The first question: How did they approach the work of memory and commemoration? How did they collect tens of thousands of testimonies from dozens of countries in different languages, and consolidate them to one place- at Yad Vashem? Now, the sharp question arises, given the vast proliferation of communication and photography tools, documentation, and broadcasting – if an effort is not made to collect at least copies of all the testimonies that are heard and broadcast in the media in Israel and around the world, why what happened on October 7th, in one place, there will not be a complete picture in the future.

“The second question: Since the Holocaust ended, denial began immediately, and in fact, the Germans began to hide evidence while it was happening. The attempt teaches that the size of the crime is indeed the depth of the denial, and so is the immediacy of the denial. Not only the Holocaust but many other crimes were being denied, because denial aids forgetfulness, both stem from the same root, and it helps escape punishment. The first book to deny the Holocaust was published as early as 1945, and after October 7th, we didn’t have time to turn around and already began talking about the fact that there is no evidence and it is not possible.

“The third question: Is it appropriate to celebrate during and after a disaster? In March 1943, 80 years ago, the students at the Hebrew University debated whether to hold the traditional Purim carnival and just a few months after became known that the killing of Jews was systematic. Also, in Dalia Kibbutz, they asked what should happen to the dance festival. Today we also debated what to do on Purim and Passover, and next week on Independence Day. So, both then and today, two parallel paths were created, with anger and sorrow on the side, the ongoing life, and the marking of holidays and festivals, maybe as a matter of fact, especially life.

“Since that terrible day, so many young flowers have been buried, too many young ones, and therefore, with all the sorrow, it was decided to continue forward, to look ahead, to volunteer. Close to two thousand survivors left their homes on October 7th, over five hundred of them from the surrounding area. There is no uniform response among the survivors to the events, each one responds to you in their own way, but some of them say: there is no doubt that it was a terrible day, with severe consequences in every aspect of our lives, but the comparison to the Holocaust is not one to one, and the comparers know this, because with all the pain and the associations, it is clear even to those who use the word Holocaust that this is a completely different event in its scope. And if then there was a renewal of life and a rebuilding of personal and national lives after the Holocaust, there will also be this time. Not tomorrow and not even the day after tomorrow, but there will be.”

The Center for Russian Studies at Tel Aviv University has begun its work

The “Chubays Project” at TAU turned out to be scientific, it will deal with the history of Russia to study its future

The Center for Russian Studies (CRS) at the Faculty of Social Sciences at Tel Aviv University has begun its work. On April 16, there was a presentation of the launch report of the new center – Russian Future Initiative. Contrary to its name, the project appears surprisingly non-political. In order to talk more or less seriously about Russia’s future, CRS intends to deal with the recent history of Russia – economic, political, social, and cultural. The period that interests CRS is from 1991, when the collapse of the USSR occurred and Russia appeared as a separate state, to the present day.

In Russia and Israel, the media has already reported that one of Israel’s universities intends to create a CRS on the funds of Israeli and Russian sponsors-entrepreneurs. Anatoly Chubays, a well-known Russian reformer and former Russian government vice-premier, as previously reported by JP, repatriated to Israel in May 2022. However, the assumptions that a think tank would be created in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, or Beersheba to prepare scenarios for new reforms in the so-called “post-Putin” period were unfounded. The CSR presentation was purely academic, and Anatoly Chubays is only mentioned as the organizer of the group of sponsors of the new center, whose task is a comprehensive study of Russia’s possible future based on the analysis of the events of its recent past.

Social Sciences Instead of Futurology

In Israeli social science, there are already several centers studying Russia, including on the TAU Faculty of Social Sciences and other faculties. Israeli historians, economists, sociologists, culture experts, and specialists on Jewish community life in Russia and the former USSR are well-known in professional circles and in Russia and the world. Academic science in this sense has no boundaries; Russian Studies have been widespread since the 1950s, the beginning of the “Cold War,” primarily in US and European universities. However, CRS is likely the only Israeli scientific center currently studying the last 30 years of Russian history. As it became clear during the presentation, working on these topics between Russia’s history and the present will be more scholars involved in contemporary research than historians – part of them will work in Tel Aviv, part in Russia and Europe. For example, Victor Vakhshtayn, a sociologist and former dean of the Sociology Faculty at the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences, will continue his research in the field of social capital studies within the CRS project. Alexander Baunov, a political scientist and author of the popular 2023 book “The End of the Regime: How Three European Dictatorships Ended,” currently working and the Berlin Carnegie Center and as visiting researcher at the Florence University Institute, will continue his research on the structure of Russian elites. Dmitry Butrin, an economist and economic editor of the Moscow “Kommersant,” is an economist in the CRS project. Finally, from Moscow, within the CRS project, cultural studies of Russian culture will be conducted by literary scholar Alexander Arkhangelsky, who continues his work on a series of Russian documentary films.

Over the five years that the CRS initiative is planned, it is assumed that other researchers from Israel, Russia, and other countries will join – the authors of the initial report hint that representatives of other social sciences, such as international relations, may also be involved. The main idea of the research, however, primarily involves working together among CRS staff and working within interdisciplinary research. As the center’s staff explains, which, as it turned out, has been working at TAU’s Faculty of Social Sciences under the leadership of professor Itai Sened since February, the latest Russian history now looks quite unusual in scientific description. There are several “histories of Russia” since 1991, almost none of which are related to each other. One is the history of changes in Russian society at the elementary level. Several others are different parts of the economic histories of the huge populated country, which has appeared as a successfully reforming economy, a backward world gas station, a kingdom of state capitalism, and a battleground for warring oligarchs and siloviki since 1991. Finally, there is the history of the transformation of Russian culture in all its layers – from the return of religion to it to new cults of strength and aggression.

These parts are challenging to reconcile with each other even in publicist descriptions. However, the declared task of CRS is to approach the possibility of “understanding Russia” in its new form in a purely academic sense. In this model, the “cultural” component will not contradict the “political,” and social development will not contradict the economic. CRS assumes that this is the only way to speak reliably about what can and cannot happen to Russia in the foreseeable future because, at least since 2012-2014, forecasts about what would happen in Moscow even next year have usually turned out poorly. And the war with Ukraine, the political protests of 2012, and the current economic upswing have become unexpected for researchers.

However, the same, emphasize the researchers of CRS, can now be said about any other country in the world – quick and bright forecasts, let alone politically engaged ones, attract attention but are just as quickly forgotten. In any case, part of the political sector of neither Israel nor Russia will become the “Chubays Center” in such a composition and with such a research program. However, Tel Aviv University is getting new research team whose answer to the question “What is happening in Russia?” may be more fundamental than before.

Prof. Ehud Gazit: Meitner-Humboldt Award Winner7

Congratulations to Prof. Ehud Gazit on receiving the esteemed Meitner-Humboldt Research Award.

Alexander von Humboldt Foundation of Germany has announced that it is awarding the Meitner-Humboldt Research Award for the year 2024 to Prof. Ehud Gazit of Tel Aviv University, in recognition of his extensive academic achievements. The award is bestowed upon eminent international researchers across diverse fields of study who have had a substantial impact on their respective domains and are anticipated to continue to achieve groundbreaking academic accomplishments in the future. Prof. Ehud Gazit is a world-renowned researcher in the fields of nanotechnology, biochemistry, and biophysics research. He is a full professor at both the Shmunis School for Biomedicine and Cancer Research in the Wise Faculty of Life Sciences and the Department of Materials Science and Engineering in the Fleischman Faculty of Engineering. Additionally, he serves as the Chair of Biotechnology of Degenerative Diseases, as a member of the Tel Aviv University’s Executive Council, and as the founding director of the Blavatnik Center for Drug Discovery.  
Prof. Ehud Gazit: “I am grateful to receive international recognition for my academic research and support towards future endeavors. I would like to thank the members of the award committee and Prof. Klaus Jandt from the University of Jena in Germany for the nomination and selection. This is a profound honor for me.”
  Prof. Gazit is one of the most prolific inventors in the Israeli academy. He has registered over one hundred patents and led the transfer of technologies to companies in Israel and around the world. He has published nearly 400 peer-reviewed articles in top journals. His groundbreaking research has earned him numerous accolades in Israel and abroad, including the Kadar Family Award for Outstanding Research, the Landau Prize from the Mifal Hapayis national lottery, and the Rappaport Prize for Excellence in Biomedical Research. Prof. Gazit is a fellow of the UK’s Royal Society of Chemistry, a Member of the European Molecular Biology Organization, and a Foreign Member of the National Academy of Sciences, India. Recently, he was elected as a fellow in the US National Academy of Inventors, the highest recognition bestowed by the organization. The Meitner-Humboldt Research Award has been awarded since 1991 in collaboration between the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the Israeli Ministry of Science, Technology, and Space (MOST). It is named in memory of the Austrian nuclear physicist Lise Meitner and the German naturalist and explorer Alexander von Humboldt.

Standing Alongside Our Students: President Herzog’s TAU Visit

President Herzog’s Recent Visit Highlighted Our Strong Support and Fostering Environment for Students.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog and his wife, Michal Herzog, visited Tel Aviv University yesterday (03/06/24), meeting returning reservist students, international students and leading researchers. The pair – both alumni of TAU’s Buchmann Faculty of Law, were accompanied by the University’s President, Prof. Ariel Porat, and senior University management.  

Returning Reservists on TAU’s Support Sytem

The visit included a meeting and discussion with the reservist students about their experiences, challenges, and assistance with returning to studies. All the students, who have returned to their studies from up to 140 days in IDF reserve duty, spoke of difficulties in readjusting to civilian life: “One week you’re in Khan Younis, and the next week you’re in the classroom – it’s hard to find the inner quiet and concentration to sit still and do the work,” said one.   With that, the students acknowledged the goodwill, accommodations, and academic and financial support given by the University to students transitioning from army service to coursework and exams. For example, one student said he was moved by the fact that the first three calls he received on the morning of Oct. 7 to see if he was OK were from professors and counselors at the University; and another student said that the tuition grants TAU allocated to all reservists significantly helped with his financial hardship.   President Herzog’s thanked the reservist students for their brave service and asked them to now try and return to normal life, developing their brains and talent, getting their degrees and changing the world.   President Herzog and The First Lady, Michal Herzog, Shaking hands with TAU students.   The Herzogs then met with TAU Lowy International School students, many of whom are part of the student task force battling anti-Israel disinformation on social media.   Additionally, the President and his wife toured the lab of Dr. Tali Ilovitsh, who develops innovative ultrasound technology that destroys cancer cells without surgical intervention, and the lab of Prof. Ben Maoz, who develops “organ-on-a-chip” technologies for regenerative medicine and drug testing. Both labs are in TAU’s Samueli Engineering Building at The Fleischman Faculty of Engineering.   The President and the First Lady visiting Dr. Ilovitsh’s lab.   President Isaac Herzog and Michal Herzog’s visit to Tel Aviv University showcased the profound support for students at TAU, bridging the gap between military service and academic pursuits. Their interaction underscored TAU’s commitment to empowering students to overcome their challenges and thrive. Together, they symbolized the enduring partnership between education and national service, inspiring a brighter future for all.

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.

Tel Aviv University’s New Academic Integration Tracks Welcome Olim

TAU partners with Israel Student Authority to launch new degree options for recent immigrants.

Since the beginning of the October 7 war, there has been a noticeable surge in citizenship requests and Aliyah to Israel, particularly from France and the United States, but not exclusively. Responding to this growing trend, Tel Aviv University (TAU) is introducing new academic integration tracks in collaboration with Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah and Integration. These tracks offer a unique opportunity for new Olim to start studying in English or French and eventually graduate in Hebrew.
Professor Milette Shamir, Vice President International of TAU: “Discovering the overwhelming interest in moving to Israel, during my recent travels abroad, has left me truly astonished.  It’s heartening to see how many young people are eager to make aliya at this challenging moment in Israel’s history.  The new Integration Tracks could not have come at a better time.”
In the upcoming year, TAU will introduce two English tracks and one in French offered through the Lowy International School. Students opting for English can choose between a BA in Liberal Arts and Management and an MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. For French speakers, there’s the option to apply to the Programme de Licence en Sciences Sociales, Politiques et Économiques with a choice of five fields of study that include Economics, Political Science, Communication, Anthropology & Sociology, and Labor Studies. Currently, it is the only French-taught program in Social Sciences in Israel.

Hebrew Classes, Networking Opportunities, And More

These programs provide newly arrived immigrants with a valuable opportunity for soft integration into Israeli society and the educational system. The academic integration track includes fully-funded Hebrew learning, with intensive language courses during semester breaks and additional Hebrew classes throughout the semesters. Before transferring to the Hebrew track, students take the Yael exam to assess their Hebrew proficiency. Students in the English undergraduate track have an option of studying Hebrew for two years, while those in the French track will have a shorter, yet more intensive year-long Hebrew course as their academic workload will be lighter – with only five subject courses in their first year of studies.   Additionally, students have the opportunity to work part-time, acquiring valuable local work experience. Daria Gurskaia, a second-year student in the BA in Liberal Arts and Management who made Aliyah in 2023, highlights, “In my current job, I get to apply the knowledge and skills we’ve learned in the classroom. Our program effectively prepares us for the job market, and working part-time during my studies will surely help me build my career.”
“Students will be able to immerse themselves in the local community while studying alongside Israelis, making them more eligible for jobs in Israel upon graduation.”—Louise Hyatt, the program coordinator for BA in Liberal Arts and Management.
MA in TESOL graduates will receive an Israeli teaching certificate upon completing the full two-year program, enabling them to find employment in schools or colleges in Israel. In addition to a strong theoretical foundation, the curriculum includes practical training.
“Our students teach English classes either in local schools or through the TAU’s Center for Language Excellence,”—Kate Klementieva, TESOL program coordinator.
MA TESOL students find immense value in this practical component of the program. For Elli Kichik, a TESOL student participant, the practicum is a standout feature: “I can watch a real experienced teacher at work, and also teach myself.” She is confident that the TESOL degree will unlock numerous opportunities for her in the future: “I’m already applying the skills acquired during the course in my current teaching practice.”

Beyond Academics: Comprehensive Assistance System

Making Aliyah is a significant decision, and TAU, in collaboration with the Israel Student Authority, offers extensive support. Admitted students will receive support from a designated Olim student counselor on campus throughout their studies, addressing academic, scholarship, and other concerns.   Additionally, Olim students have access to psychological guidance, provided either by a social worker or through a psychological support framework subsidized by the Israel Student Authority. The tracks also come with partial or full funding for eligible students, and housing support grants are available to new Olim.

Student Spotlight

Noa Joffe, originally from Germany, made Aliyah in 2021 to connect with her Israeli and Jewish roots. Reflecting on her decision, she shares, “Life in Israel is hard, but the experience is worth it. The multiculturalism and diversity here have taught me many things about life and helped me develop myself.” Noa Joffe, Olah from Germany
“One can learn about Israel by coming here for a vacation, but one will really benefit from it only if one takes the jump to the unknown and engages with the challenge of studying in a new country. For me, it was the best decision I could have taken.”
Joffe emphasizes that studying at Tel Aviv University reinforced her decision: “It is a big challenge, but the reward of making it is the greatest feeling.”

How to Enroll?

The tracks are open to new Olim who made Aliyah less than 3 years ago. The maximum age for undergraduate applicants is 27 years old, while for the graduate program, the cutoff is at 35 years old.
What is particularly important, undergraduate applicants are exempt from submitting psychometric test results, a requirement for Israeli applicants.
To check your eligibility, you can contact the English or French-speaking coordinator at the Israel Student Authority. Explore new academic horizons, embrace cultural diversity, and contribute to Israel’s future by joining TAU’s integration tracks. To discover more about opportunities for Olim at Tel Aviv University, please visit the dedicated webpage.

Open Day at Tel Aviv University

Thanks to the Thousands of Curious and Effervescent Individuals who Came to Ask the Right Questions on Open Day.

Newcomers on Campus

On Friday, February 23, Tel Aviv University hosted its open day for undergraduate and graduate degrees on campus, attracting thousands of interested individuals who came to learn about admission conditions and registration process, meet with the academic and administrative staff and converse with veteran students from various fields of study that intrigued them.

This year, amid the war and for the first time in academia in Israel, Tel Aviv University presented special conditions for reservists and discharged soldiers recruited for an extended period and those from war-afflicted areas, offering admission routes to all study programs without psychometric testing, to enable their success.

The visitors participated in experiential tours during the open day among the faculties’ buildings and study departments, providing insight into various fields of study and glimpses into different laboratories. The first 200 registrants for studies on Open Day received a surprise—a pair of Saucony running shoes as a gift.

Among the most popular meetings were familiarization with Tel Aviv University’s innovative teaching methods, including experiencing virtual reality and workshops at the Consultation Center for choosing a profession and study path to students’ success. In addition, prospective students came to learn how to study a whole semester at leading universities abroad as part of the student exchange program and participated in a workshop at the campus Entrepreneurship Center, where they learned how to pursue their dream of a start-up even during their degree.

Exploring new horizons (Photo: Shlomi Mizrahi)

International Experience at TAU

The Lowy International School showcased Tel Aviv University’s extensive selection of English-taught degree programs. With over 20 graduate and four undergraduate offerings, the School presented a diverse array of academic options spanning various fields, including the newly launched MSc programs in Biomedical and Environmental Engineering.

Of particular interest to the Open Day visitors was the innovative academic track designed for Olim, enabling them to start their studies in English or French while simultaneously learning Hebrew. Prospective students also had the chance to explore the campus during a guided tour conducted in English by the outreach manager, Mr. David Ryan.

The Lowy International School’s team at the Open Day

Meanwhile, Israeli students seized the opportunity to learn more about student exchange possibilities available at TAU, leveraging over 70 exchange agreements with universities worldwide. They gained insights into the necessary steps for preparing for an exchange and discovered the numerous benefits associated with such international study experiences.

Giving a Fair Starting Point to Our Reservists

“This year, we faced a complex reality where many individuals interested in studies were recruited to reserves, yet we were delighted to see a campus full of curious individuals.”—Sharon Ariel, Marketing Manager at Tel Aviv University.

(Photo: Shlomi Mizrahi )

Ariel adds: “It was important for us to provide information about admission to Tel Aviv University, inviting everyone to come and gain added value from our campus experience in a maximal way. The tours and meetings in the faculties enabled them to hear about study programs from students, ask the right questions, get a close look at the laboratories, observe leading researchers in their fields conducting experiments, hear from lecturers and academic and administrative staff about all the study options and diverse programs, enter lecture halls for the first time, and stroll through the green paths among the buildings.

The easing plan we developed and are implementing this year for those recruited to reserves or affected during the war will also help new applicants start their studies on the right foot. Our students spend many hours here over several years during their degree, and on Open Day, we allow those considering studying here to feel almost like students”.

(Photo: Shlomi Mizrahi )

We were happy to host them all on our beautiful campus and we hope that together with us, hand in hand, prospective students will start their journey following the discoveries, inventions, and theories awaiting revelation. Hope to see you next year.

Couldn’t make it to Open Day and Interested in TAU’s International Track? All the information about admission pathways and what needs to be done to start studying at Tel Aviv University is available on the TAU International website >

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.

Exploring Responses to Challenges and Cultivating Collaborations

Tel Aviv University hosts a delegation from UCLA.

The Lowy International School hosted the UCLA delegation at Tel Aviv University on February 20 as part of their solidarity trip to Israel. In a substantive round-table discussion, 27 UCLA faculty members spanning diverse research disciplines engaged in insightful conversations surrounding the events of October 7, the ongoing geopolitical situation, and the actions Tel Aviv University has been taking. TAU President Prof Ariel Porat described the wide range of initiatives launched by TAU to support its student reservists, agricultural communities in the south of Israel, and displaced residents of the south and the north.
“We opened the academic semester with a heavy heart as 2000 of our students are still serving in the reserves. To support them, we’ve started a special program that includes group and individual tutoring sessions to help the students who miss classes.”—Prof Ariel Porat, TAU President
Prof Porat also underscored the paramount importance of academic freedom, cautioning against the potential hazards of political intervention on university campuses. Prof Neta Ziv, Vice President for Equity, Diversity, and Community at TAU, spoke about creating a shared space for everybody on campus considering that universities are places where many members of Israeli society meet for the first time, having grown up in their separate communities.
“Any tension in the country is immediately reflected on campus. On the one hand, we want our students to be active citizens and express their views and we view the campus as a democratic sphere, but we have to deal with the boundaries,” — Prof Neta Ziv.
Currently, TAU’s student body is highly diverse, encompassing 16% Arab students, along with significant numbers of Druze students, Christian students of Ethiopian descent, and members of the LGBTQ+ community. The university is committed to ensuring that the campus remains a safe and welcoming space for everyone.

TAU’s Response to Post-October 7 Realities

After October 7, new challenges emerged, including the delineation of free speech boundaries and the need to ensure that there are no incidents on campus amid existing tensions between Jews and Arabs once classes resume. Prof Ziv affirmed the university’s steadfast commitment to safety and inclusion:
“Everyone is welcome here; the campus is a place where everyone belongs.”
According to Ziv, the university was inundated with complaints after October 7, with students allegedly supporting terrorism or inciting against Arabs on social media. Emphasizing the imminent threat to free speech during emergency times, she clarified that, out of over 100 cases brought before the Office for Diversity, only three resulted in disciplinary hearings, leading to the expulsion of students who actively supported the massacre. Prof Neta Ziv, Vice President for Equity, Diversity, and Community at TAU Prior to opening the semester, faculty members received training on how to talk to students about what had happened, what to say and what not to say, how to contain the discourse and controversy in class.
“What do we do to start the school year in a way that would acknowledge that many of our students have gone through trauma, and many of our Arab students are afraid of being targeted?”
As Prof Ziv explained, a lot of of time and resources went into preparing for the school year. Since the start of the semester on December 31, the situation on campus has been quiet despite a small number of isolated incidents because the students really want to have a place where they can study and leave everything else outside the university gate.

Exploring Political and Gender Dimensions of the War

Prof Itamar Rabinovitch Professor Emeritus of Middle Eastern History at Tel Aviv University (Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies,); Israel’s former ambassador to the United States and former Chief Negotiator with Syria in the mid-1990s, and the former President of Tel Aviv University (1999-2007) The expert panel, moderated by Prof Itzhak Friend, featured a talk by Prof Itamar Rabinovitch, former Israel’s Ambassador to the US, addressing the political ramifications of the ongoing conflict and President Biden’s proposed two-state solution. Prof. Daphna Hacker, a distinguished scholar in TAU’s Law and Gender Studies and an Independent Expert to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, provided a compelling analysis of the gender dimensions within the ongoing hostilities. Prof. Daphna Hacker, Full Professor at the Law Faculty and the TAU Women and Gender Studies Program and an Independent Expert to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women

UCLA Delegation’s Perspective on the Visit

Members of the UCLA delegation discussed the challenges faced by Jews within academic institutions and efforts to counteract instances of antisemitism. Reflecting on the visit, Prof Mark Klingman from the UCLA School of Music emphasized the significance of hearing firsthand experiences from Israelis and being at Israeli academic institutions to understand responses and people’s well-being.
“It’s very different than hearing it on the news. Hearing everyone’s experiences on October 7, what they did and how it impacted their families has reminded me of 9/11.” —Prof Mark Klingman from the UCLA School of Music
Prof Klingman also highlighted the determination and unity he observed among people in Israel during the visit. Prof Ariel Porat, TAU President, and Nir N. Hoftman, UCLA Another delegation member, Dr. Tabia Lee, Director of Coalition for Empowered Education and Member of Free Black Thought, expressed her happiness in learning about Israel’s rich history of diversity and inclusion. “I’m very excited to hear the perspectives of professors and to hear them actively engage with questions. Seeing people being able to challenge each other, to adjust positions and perspectives is very inspiring, and I’m going to take that back home as a model,” said Lee. She further stated that one of the primary purposes of the visit was to meet local communities, speak to families, witness the actual sights, and express solidarity with the people of Israel during this time.
“The resilience, the ability to still be open to dialog, compassion and wisdom that is here in the people is something that I admire so much. If we can take it and emulate it where we are, our society will improve.” — Dr. Tabia Lee, Director of Coalition for Empowered Education and Member of Free Black Thought
  During the concluding discussion, the UCLA delegation expressed their commitment to building relationships with TAU faculty underscoring the collective pursuit of fostering meaningful collaborations on faculty and student level.  

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