Thank goodness it’s Friday and time for another Good News Friday installment.
This week the focus is on education. The Jerusalem Post reports that three Israeli universities have been ranked amongst the 100 most innovative universities in the world:
Hebrew University came in at 82, climbing 12 spots from last year. Tel Aviv University was ranked at 88 and The Technion – Israel Institute of Technology was 89.
Reuters cited the Hebrew University’s technology transfer company, Yissum Research Development Company, as bringing students’ and researchers’ technologies and discoveries to market, with 10,000 registered patents covering 2,800 inventions, more than 900 licensed technologies, and the launch of 125 startups.
This is excellent news but of course completely not surprising to anyone who knows Israel well (and to anyone who follows my Good News Friday series ( 😉 )with its emphasis on Israel’s technological and medical advances. It is wonderful that our great research institutions are recognized all over the world.
On a related subject, a delegation from the European Students Union visited Israel despite calls from campus organizations (e.g. BDS) to boycott Israel:
The European Students’ Union began its biannual seminar on Monday in Jerusalem, with 120 student representatives from 37 countries arriving for a week’s visit.
Despite political opposition, student unions from the member countries provided enough votes for the seminar to be hosted in Israel. During their visit, the guests will meet with public figures, tour the country and speak with local professionals. The opening ceremony was held Monday night in Jerusalem after the student guests enjoyed a Segway tour of the city. On Tuesday, they were scheduled to visit Tel Aviv-Jaffa to tour Jaffa’s Ajami neighborhood, meet the city’s LGBTQ community, and attend an evening event on the rooftop of City Hall.
Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan, whose ministry is responsible for fighting the anti-Israel boycott movement, praised the National Union of Israeli Students, “which managed to bring to Israel, on the state’s 70th anniversary, student leaders from all of Europe to experience a flourishing Israel, the opposite of the picture painted on campuses around Europe. Unfortunately, boycott and delegitimization organizations against Israel have turned many campuses to vehemently anti-Israel environments in recent years, and I hope that this visit by student union leaders from around Europe and Israel will have a positive influence on the issue.”
Ram Shefa, head of the National Union of Israeli Students, said: “The student leaders of today are those who will stand in senior public positions later. I see being a part of this global organization as a real mission for our public diplomacy. Today [European] students are exposed to a misleading picture that doesn’t match the complexity of reality here. I hope that this current visit will help change the image of Israel in Europe’s young leaders, and despite the opposition, we therefore insisted on hosting the organization in Israel.”
The ESU comprises 45 national student unions from 37 European countries and the National Union of Israeli Students. Representing over 15 million students, it is the only body representing European students on the continental level. Representatives of the organization meet twice a year to promote the social, educational, economic and cultural rights of students.
This is really excellent news and an extremely welcome development, particularly because of the extreme anti-Israel bias, and even antisemitism, prevalent on campuses worldwide, which makes life for Jewish and pro-Israel students so difficult.
Kol hakavod to the Israeli student union for organizing this seminar, and huge kudos to the European Students Union for not giving in to pressure or to radical-chic, politically correct anti-Israel sentiment. May this conference lead to much more cooperation at the local campus level and may these representatives become goodwill ambassadors for Israel.
On a tangentially related theme, here is a wonderfully heart-warming project (via Hadassah) which received a well-deserved award. This post is by Karnei Shomron’s Mayor, Igal Lahav: The English translation will follow the Hebrew:
Here is the translation of the local council’s post which cannot be shared, but which contained more detail:
150 volunteers who run a respite center for handicapped children in Karnei Shomron, the Karnei Shomron Hesder Yeshiva (a pre-military yeshiva academy) and the department of social services of the local council received an award of honour from Keren Shalem (The Shalem Foundation) for its intensive and consistent activity on behalf of youngsters suffering from various developmental and mental handicaps. Keren Shalem’s director, Riva Muskal, stressed how admirable it is that every Shabbat the Shomron respite center, with the volunteers and all those involved in this holy work, hosts about 60 youngsters at a time, enabling them to have a holiday and giving their families some precious time to devote to their other children and family members.
The prize, valued for its public and social importance, was received by the volunteers’ coordinators, the director of the social services department, the heads of the Yeshivat Hesder and the the local council head, who together are planning a grand new permanent building for the respite center.
I got to know of this wonderful project via my daughter who lives in Karnei Shomron and is justifiably proud of their local volunteers. It started out as a small local initiative, helping out one family with a handicapped child who were invited away for a family celebration without children. All the neighbours stepped in to help out with the children, including the unwell child, and it just snowballed from there. What a fantastic initiative and what wonderful people! All the volunteers and workers deserve this recognition and much more. Kol hakavod to everyone who takes part, from the coordinators to the social workers, to the youthful volunteers who look after the children every single Shabbat, to the Yeshiva which donates its facilities and kitchens, to the drivers and cleaners and more.
We can all learn from this spirit of volunteerism and loving-kindness – chesed – and carry it through to our daily lives, just like our forefathers and foremothers did in their lives, whose stories we read every week in the Torah.
With this thought may we all have a Shabbat Shalom.