Former editor-in-chief, The Jerusalem Post / Mechina, Rothberg International School, 1983; B.A., International Relations & English Literature, 1986
I had only been living in Israel for a few months, my Hebrew was far from impressive, and I was having a hard time understanding an international relations course being taught by the legendary ex-military intelligence chief Professor Yehoshofat Harkabi. To my immense good fortune, however, I noticed a beautiful, flamehaired young American student near the front of the room who was effortlessly noting down the key points. That was 27 years and three magnificent children ago; so the greatest debt I owe the Hebrew University, and its greatest impact on my life, is that it was the place where I met my wife Lisa.
The Hebrew University was central to my making a life in Israel because it was my landing point here, and that landing was soft and nurturing: I immigrated to Israel from England as a relatively clueless, 20-year-old Zionist, and the Mount Scopus campus was my first home, where I learned the language, made my first friends and, prompted by my teachers, began to properly use my brain. It was my introduction to the entire complex Israeli experience — to our politics and history, coexistence with Arabs and among different streams of Judaism, culture, even bureaucracy. It served as my initial survival guide for the career in Israeli journalism that I began while still at the University.
For me at the time, and in my intermittent interactions since, the Hebrew University has symbolized a striving for excellence and a commitment to the maximizing of its students’ potential. As a consequence, it continues to produce national leaders in almost every field. It needs to keep doing so — to attract and retain the best and the brightest from Israel and the Diaspora — for we can thrive as a nation only if we can make the most of our prime natural resource: brainpower.
As a university, it has always been committed to furthering the frontiers of human knowledge. But the Hebrew University also must continue to serve as a national moral compass, setting standards of propriety and emphasizing and cherishing exemplary values — a centerpiece of our ever-more challenging aspiration to serve as a light unto the nations.