“Largest gathering of rabbis since the university’s opening” learns about Hebrew University Tikkun Olam program to heal the world.

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, the 11th Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, led a delegation of 50 rabbis on a May visit to The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The delegation heard presentations about Hebrew University Master’s degree programs that exemplify Tikkun Olam — the Jewish value of sharing know-how and skills to help make the world a better place — in some of the most deprived and poorest societies. They also prayed in the campus’s Hecht Synagogue overlooking the Temple Mount and Old City of Jerusalem.

Dr. Jonathan Mirvis, a Hebrew University senior lecturer and brother of Chief Rabbi Mirvis, remarked that not since The Hebrew University’s opening ceremony in 1925 had so many rabbis congregated on its Mount Scopus campus. Dr. Mirvis lectures at the University’s Melton Centre for Jewish Education and the Glocal Community Development program.

Welcoming the delegation, Hebrew University rector, Professor Asher Cohen, described the University’s mission of combining the highest standards of academic excellence with community involvement for the benefit of Israel, the Jewish people, and the peoples of the world. Two examples of how this concept is being put into practice are the International Master’s in Public Health (IMPH) at the Faculty of Medicine, and the Glocal Community Development programs.

Hebrew University rector, Professor Asher Cohen, presents Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis with a copy of The Hebrew University’s Crown Bible. (Photo: Office of the Chief Rabbi)

Hebrew University rector, Professor Asher Cohen, presents Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis with a copy of The Hebrew University’s Crown Bible. (Photo: Office of the Chief Rabbi)

Professor Yehuda Neumark, Head of the Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine and former Director of the IMPH program, described its worldwide impact over 40 years, and the remarkable achievements of its 800 graduates from 90 countries, working both in their home countries and with international agencies. Representing the current cohort, three students from the Philippines, Puerto Rico and South Sudan described their reasons for coming to Israel, the importance of the IMPH program and their future career plans.

Sudanese physician Dr. Kandyang Modi Dumo Jansuk said the crucial knowledge and skills provided by the IMPH program would provide him with the intellectual and practical tools to make a major difference to the public health system of his war-torn country.

Prof. Neumark paid tribute to the two programs’ generous benefactors, in particular the Pears Foundation from Britain, which provides pivotal long-term support for scholarships, conferences, alumni and extra-curricular activities.

Aya Navon, Internship Coordinator and lecturer at the Glocal Community-Development Studies Program, described three elements of the degree that are essential to addressing poverty and deprivation in the developing world: academia and research, professional knowledge in the field, and the local knowledge of communities being served.

Glocal is an innovative, interdisciplinary two-year Master’s program for students from Israel and overseas. It aims to effectively translate academic research into practical understanding conducive to work with communities and development organizations across the globe. Classroom studies are combined with an internship in a community in the developing world.

Glocal student Bertrand Mizeru from Burundi said studying in Jerusalem at The Hebrew University had changed his entire view of Israel and the Jewish people, which were portrayed differently in the wider world.

Following the visit, Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said: “During my inaugural mission to Israel, 50 UK Rabbis were moved and inspired through what they saw and heard at The Hebrew University here in Jerusalem.  These groundbreaking Hebrew University initiatives are a source of pride for the Jewish community as an outstanding example of Tikkun Olam.  The programs enable and empower motivated men and women to make a real difference in their home countries.  The programs are an excellent example of Israel’s contribution to the wider world and are worthy of our full support.”