University launches Protective Edge fund for soldier-student scholarships, shelters for Rehovot campus

Children from Israel's south enjoy a fun day at the Edmond J. Safra CampusAugust 6, 2014: With close to 1000 of its students called up to active military reserve duty during the Protective Edge campaign, the Hebrew University has launched a campaign to support them in catching up with their studies. “They have missed the opportunity to study for — and take — exams, and they have put their lives on the line for their community and country. As they serve us, we wish to serve them,” said Vice-President for Advancement and External Relations Prof. Ronnie Friedman.

“Now that they are coming home, we have established a fund to provide scholarships and services to those students who served in Protective Edge. We welcome contributions of any amount, and have set an overall goal of $1 million. We greatly appreciate all support in meeting this target.” To date, some $400,000 has been raised, including over $100,000 from Israel.

In addition to the scholarship fund for student-soldiers, the University is also working to raise funds for shelters on the Rehovot campus, the home of the Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment. “The recent conflict put all our campuses under direct rocket fire, and particularly so, our campus in Rehovot,” said Friedman. “Many areas of our Rehovot campus do not have shelters or protected rooms within a safe distance, and our staff and students do not have sufficient time to get to safe spaces on hearing the siren warnings. We are eager to purchase precast shelters that can be placed in these still vulnerable areas on campus. These shelters will be hooked to electricity, air-conditioning and sewerage, and can thus be used for peacetime purposes as well.”

To contribute to these funds click here and select ‘Protective Edge – Scholarships’ or ‘Protective Edge – Shelters’ in the drop-down menu.

“We have received an outpouring of concern and solidarity from our friends around the world,” said University President Prof. Menahem Ben-Sasson. “They shared our concern for the hundreds of our students — and staff — called up to reserve duty, for the children of our staff who are in the army or in the reserves, and for students and their families who live in areas close to the front lines.

“This crisis found us in the midst of our exam period, and we tried to enable normal academic life as much as possible, within security guidelines. This means that exams took place in protected areas where necessary, and we are rescheduling exam dates and deadlines for students affected by this crisis, in particular those called up for military reserve duty. Along with our colleagues at other universities, we have committed to allowing those students on the front lines to apply for university studies up until the very last minute, since they would normally be applying now and cannot.”

During the campaign, to ensure safety on all University campuses, information on security and on counseling services was sent to all students — in Hebrew, Arabic, and English — and briefings on security precautions and instructions for alerts were offered. On-campus bomb shelters were opened and prepared and precautions taken at our summer camps for children. The University’s Rothberg International School hosted some 360 students on summer programs; fewer than 20 chose to leave early. Students received security briefings, were encouraged to voice their concerns, and were offered many on-campus activities to keep them in safe areas.

“We are proud of our campuses on which students from across Israeli society — Jews, Muslims, and Christians, those from the center and those from the periphery, Israelis and international students from over 70 countries — study side by side,” said Ben-Sasson. “We are proud of our teaching programs which enlighten, and of our research which improves and saves lives. We are proud of our commitment to equal opportunity for men and women, Jews and Arabs, Ashkenazim and Sephardim — for all.

“The Hebrew University’s mission statement remains true to Einstein’s vision of so long ago — ‘The Hebrew University is a pluralistic institution, where science and knowledge are developed for the benefit of humankind, in an atmosphere free of discrimination and prejudice.’”

“We will continue to work undeterred towards this mission.

“We pray that this conflict will be resolved soon, that no child will have to fear sirens and bombs, and that all peoples of this region will live in peace.”

During the Protective Edge campaign, the University’s staff and students rallied to provide assistance and support in several ways. These included the donation of tens of thousands of much-needed socks, t-shirts, underwear, hygiene products and food items which were packed and delivered immediately to soldiers on the front lines. The Edmond J. Safra Campus hosted a group of children from the South who — thanks to the support of the University’s Canadian Friends — enjoyed a fun science day and a break from the rockets and sirens. In addition, six of the student cadets on the University’s Elite Military Medicine program accompanied program head Prof. David Gertz and IDF Chief Medical Officer Brigadier General Itzik Kreis to visit wounded soldiers at Hadassah Hospital in Ein Kerem.

To read about a University student’s commitment to service, click here.

To donate to the Protective Edge funds, click here and select ‘Protective Edge – Scholarships’ or ‘Protective Edge – Shelters’ in the drop-down menu.