Beth Kissileff

When Beth Kissileff was a sophomore in college, she took a ‘Bible in Literature’ class. Due to her limited knowledge of Hebrew, she assumed she was likely the least knowledgeable person in the room. She realized that to know more about Judaism and Jewish texts, she needed a better grasp on Hebrew and the best way to learn a language is through immersion where the language is spoken. After she graduated with her B.A. in 1990, she and her husband enrolled in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HU).

Beth loved her classes and teachers at HU and enjoyed studying abroad with a diverse group of students who were equally engaged and highly educated. As she traveled and studied in Israel, she realized that being in the place where biblical stories occurred adds such a richness and dimension that couldn’t be replicated anywhere else. The highlight of Beth’s year abroad was the university’s Bible department tiyul (trips) to sites that were described in various sacred texts.

When she returned to the U.S., she earned a Ph.D. in comparative literature at the University of Pennsylvania. Today, Beth is an accomplished writer and journalist who seeks to capture the liveliness and excitement of Bible study through her writing. She edited the anthology Reading Genesis: Beginning (2016) and is the editor of the forthcoming anthology Reading Exodus (2019). The origins of her books Questioning Return (2016) and I’m Not Here for Myself (coming in spring 2019) date to the time she spent traveling in Israel and studying at HU. She shared, “In my book Questioning Return, the main character enrolls into HU’s ulpan program. There are a few scenes where she meets with her advisor, studies in the library, and eats in the meat cafeteria with the incredible view of Mount Scopus. The book is an armchair travel to HU and Jerusalem!” Beth is also working on a volume of linked short stories, They Truly Loved Us and a second novel, The Life I was Supposed to Have. She has been particularly thrilled to write for the English version of the 929 website, where her work can be found along with her former Hebrew University professors Yair Zakovitch and Avigdor Shinan.

Beth’s writing has appeared in the Michigan Quarterly Review, Religion News Service,,, the New York Times, The Tower, the Jewish Review of Books, Tablet, the Forward, the Jerusalem Report, the Jerusalem Post, and the New York Jewish Week among others. She has taught Hebrew Bible, Jewish studies, English literature and writing at the University of Pittsburgh, Carleton College, the University of Minnesota, Smith College, Mount Holyoke College, and Shaw University. She has received fellowships from the Corporation of Yaddo, the Ragdale Foundation, the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Beth currently lives in Pittsburgh with her family, but her heart is set on Israel and her experiences at Hebrew University. Beth exclaimed, “My husband and I decided that when we retire we want to come back to Jerusalem and again, sit in on classes at the Hebrew University, as well as the many other places to learn around town!”

Visit her online at


Shay Bialik

As the former chairwoman of Israel’s National Student and Youth Council as a high school student, Shay Bialik ’14 was used to fighting for what she felt was right. During the eventful 2011 summer, Shay met some of the people who would later provide her with a warm welcome when she started studying at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

“Attending Hebrew University (HU) wasn’t my top choice”, she said. “It was my only choice.” For Shay, HU is the top university in Israel, one of the best schools globally for international relations and history, and is in her favorite city in the world.

After learning of her arrival, leaders of the Labor Party’s university organization (who had heard about the fiery young woman from other Hebrew University students) immediately recruited her to their cause – where she became the spokeswoman for the organization, as well as the coordinator for the Knesset internship program. Along with her work in the Labor Party and her studies, Shay also worked for public figures including Jerusalem City Councilwoman Merav Cohen and Mayor Nir Barkat, as well as in the Knesset.

In addition to getting a university education, Shay’s international career began at Hebrew University. She founded the university’s Hasbara Operations room during Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012, where she fought against false news stories.

Shay later went to study in Paris as an exchange student at the prestigious Sciences Po University. Upon completing her studies, she began working as an advisor to the Israeli ambassador at the Israeli Mission to the Council of Europe, The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and UNESCO in Paris – a role she held for almost three years.

In 2017 Shay relocated to New York, where she works for the Israeli Mission to the United Nations as a policy advisor. She is also currently studying for a master’s degree in International Relations at the New School.

Currently living with her husband in New York, Shay still dreams of returning to Jerusalem. Shay notes “My time at the Hebrew University and in Jerusalem provided me with everything I could have ever wanted and wished. It was life, it was liberty, and it was happiness at the palm of my hands. And even if I barely had time to eat, I still keep in close contact with faculty and friends whom I now consider my Jerusalem family.”


Dr. Efrat Daskal

Efrat Daskal earned her Ph.D. from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 2015 and is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Crown Center for Jewish and Israel Studies at Northwestern University.

Since 2010, she has dedicated her professional and academic training to the research and study of traditional and digital media policy while focusing on three main questions: (a) How social actors who are in charge of constructing media policy can be held accountable for their conduct; (b) how citizens (aim to) influence media policy as constructed by the powerful social actors; and (c) the outcome of the dialogue constructed between the sides.

Efrat explored these questions, in her dissertation which focused on the case study of public complaints sent by Israeli viewers to media organizations in Israel. She completed her Ph.D. in 2015 in the Department of Communication and Journalism at the Hebrew University, under the supervision of Professor Tamar Liebes and Professor Zohar Kampf.

She began specializing in the field of internet policy as a visiting scholar at the Center for Global Communication Studies at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania and continued to work in this area as a Post-doctoral Research Fellow at the Open University in Israel (2015-2016), at the Hebrew University (2016-2017), and currently at Northwestern University.

In her post-doc projects, Efrat explores the following issues: digital rights advocacy, youth involvement in the Internet Governance Forum, and the work of computer security incident response teams (CERT/CSIRT). Her work so far has been published in several journals such as: Information, Communication and Society, International Journal of Communication and Media, Culture and Society.


Making the right call: HU technology KEY to Thai soccer team rescue

By Diane Hess

Mobile communications technology developed by a former student of the Hebrew University played a crucial role in the rescue of the Thai youth soccer team and their coach from a flooded cave in July.

Uzi Hanuni, the chief executive of Yavne-based Maxtech Networks, is the man behind the radio technology that allowed the responders to communicate with one another during the rescue operation in Thailand. He was a student at the Hebrew University from 1990 to 1992, while in the Elite Technology Unit of the Israel Defense Forces.


Uzi Hanuni

On June 25th Mr. Hanuni got a call from Thai authorities, two days after the 12 boys, ages 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old coach entered the Tham Luang Non cave in Chiang Rai following a soccer game.


Immediately, Mr. Hanuni put one of his employees on a plane with a suitcase filled with 19 Maxtech Network radios, the number of devices necessary to complete a link to the boys. The handheld radios, which resemble walkie-talkies, do not require a direct line of sight and can be used in complex environments without infrastructure.

“I thought about nothing other than saving the boys’ lives,” said Mr. Hanuni, who donated the devices, which cost a total of $100,000.

After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Mr. Hanuni was determined to build a communications network that did not lean on infrastructure. He and his team spent four years creating a software algorithm for Maxtech Networks, founded in 2004.

“My experience at the Hebrew University gave me the confidence to develop the algorithm for Maxtech Networks,” said Mr. Hanuni. “The university is a place where you can grow ideas.”


Dori Weinstein

When asked why she loves the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, award-winning author Dori Weinstein says it’s because of three things. “The university emboldened my connection to Judaism, deepened my love for Israel, and opened the door to life-long friendships, including, (albeit through a roundabout way), meeting my husband.” She and her husband, Gary, were both students in the Rothberg School for Overseas Students on the same program at the same time, but they never met. Her husband saw her in an HU play, but didn’t notice her in the show, which she says is likely because she was dressed as a ghost under a sheet!  They met a year and a half after college graduation through mutual HU friends.

Dori with her husband visiting HU in 2017.


However, Dori’s HU journey began several years before her theater debut. In 1984, Dori received a Zionist Organization of America high school student scholarship to travel to Israel, which included a visit to Hebrew University. Filled with excitement once there, she and her friend, Emily, made a pact to study abroad at the university during their junior year of college. Four years later, their pact became a realization and they both attended Hebrew University.

Dori with friends at HU

At HU, Dori’s passion for Judaism became evident as she was exposed to Israeli culture. For Dori, “Jewish holidays came to life on the streets of Jerusalem.” Throughout her time in Israel, whether touring the country or on campus, Israel left a strong impression on her. These experiences motivated her to become a Jewish educator, and further encouraged her to become a Jewish children’s book author.


As the author of the YaYa & YoYo book series, Dori has written three books and is currently working on the fourth. With fond memories of her time at HU, she has included numerous references to the university in her stories. “I even named two of my characters after the HU dorms, Resnick and Idelson!”

When Dori isn’t writing, she travels throughout the U.S. for book signings, readings, and school visits. “I feel so lucky that I get to do what I love! I write stories and then have the opportunity to share my books and my passion with YaYa & YoYo fans!”

Dori and her husband have traveled to Israel with their three children. They are both highly involved in the Minneapolis Jewish community, and are major HU supporters. Their enthusiasm for HU continues with their family. “Our son attended the Hebrew University during his junior year of college so you can imagine how proud and excited we were to share that experience with him!”

To learn more about the YaYa & YoYo series visit Dori’s website:





Joan West Johnson

After winning a 1962 New York City Hebrew competition prize, Joan West left the familiarity of her childhood home in Queens, New York, where she had many family and friends, to study thousands of miles away at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Upon her enrollment, she became the first African American co-ed to attend the university.

Joan came to Israel when it was an emerging nation. She shared with amusement, “I was in Israel before Coca-Cola had even arrived. I had to ask a diplomat to ‘smuggle’ drinks for my party. Of course, it wasn’t really illegal; just not available in Israel, yet.”

Joan’s passion for people and life blossomed and thrived at the Hebrew University. The campus was full of staff and students from diverse cultures and was educated on tolerance, acceptance, and self-development. Joan said, “It was just like New York, but then again not, because I felt like an integral part of the community, and yet, I was in an entirely different country.”

One of her favorite memories as a student is of her encounter with Hebrew University President Pinchas Rosen. Joan says, “He wanted to speak with me, and I couldn’t figure out why. Why me? I felt like a middle school student in the principal’s office-absolutely afraid!” Her fear quickly faded, however, upon learning the reason for her meeting. Joan would be featured in the Jerusalem Post, Ebony Magazine, the New York Times, and other major newspapers as the university’s first African American student. “I was floored,” says Joan. 

Fifty-five years have passed, and Joan recently retired from the New York City public school system. She now splits her time between Queens and Boca Raton, Florida. During her last visit to Israel, she returned to HU. While there, she recalled that Israel was where she taught her first students and developed a love for education. Nostalgia bubbled over into deep gratitude, and as Joan said, “I couldn’t believe I was there. The place where I had become a woman, an individual. It was dream-like, and yet so real.” 


Amy Applebaum

Amy Applebaum’s journey to Israel was nothing short of serendipitous.

The year was 1991, and after participating in rush week at Chico State University (part of the California State University system), Amy didn’t receive a sorority bid.

“I was devastated and really didn’t know what to do,” Amy said. “Then I spoke with one of my professors at Chico, Dr. Sam Edelman, and he pointed me towards Jerusalem.”

Dr. Edelman helped arrange for Amy to receive a scholarship and a stipend to attend the Hebrew University, and that was all she needed. Amy packed her bags and made the spontaneous decision to study in Israel.

“That decision boosted my self-confidence,” Amy said. “I was in an entirely different country, exploring unique cultures, and not only was I surviving, I was seizing each opportunity life presented!”

The Hebrew University – where Amy studied communications – cultivated her intellect; expanded her sense of the world (she not only befriended people from all over the world, but traveled to Turkey, Cyprus, and Africa); and laid the foundation for her expertise in intercultural and interpersonal relationships.

Today, Amy is as an entrepreneur, business coach, author, media personality, wife, and mom of a precocious 5-year-old. Over the past decade, she’s helped tens of thousands of women achieve their personal and professional goals, and she’s been featured on ABC, CNN, TLC, Dr. Drew’s LifeChangers, and Martha Stewart Radio, as well as in the pages of Teen, Shape, Cosmopolitan, Woman’s World, and The New York Times. Plus, Amy became a certified hypnotherapist because she believes that success is just as much about “how you think” as it is “what you do.”

“The Hebrew University changed my life,” Amy said. “It was the impetus for everything I’ve ever done. It really shaped my future.”


Aviva Lev-Ari

Aviva Lev-Ari (nee Abraham) began her studies at Hebrew University in 1970 in geography and history, and later received her master’s degree in the Urban Studies program. She found her academic interests melded with her passions for music and poetry, cherry blossoms in pictures, harp music, fashion design, and Bob Dylan.

Her admiration for Bob Dylan and his poetic expression within the great American song tradition was just as strong as her desire to master the art of scientific and technical oral and written communication. Hebrew University helped her to do so. She attributes the skills she learned as a student at HU for her great success as a Research Associate at the Technion and as a Doctoral Candidate at the University of California, Berkeley, earning a Ph.D. in 1983.

Her professors at HU were also instrumental in helping her achieve her aspirations. They wrote letters of recommendations for her, and she still remains in touch with many of them.  “I remained in contact with them till some passed away, including Professor Louis Guttman and Professor Shalom Reichman. I am still in contact with Professor Ruth Kark and Dr. Sara Hershkovits. On my annual visit in Israel, I meet with both of them.” Her professors were her teachers but have also became her close friends.

Since leaving Hebrew University, she has helped numerous people. She worked in applied research in the U.S. with start-ups and Fortune 100 companies as a management consultant and as an Executive for 25 years. Following a career reinvention at Northeastern University in Biological Sciences, Nursing and Pharmacology, 2005-2007, she received a degree in Nursing and conducted research in Pharmacology at Northeastern University. Aviva worked in the healthcare sector till 2012.

She also worked in the publishing industry first as the Director of Research at McGraw-Hill/CTB and currently as the Editor-in-Chief of the LBPI Group’s Open Access Scientific Journal and as the Editor-in-Chief of the LPBI’s BioMed e-series.

Now, when Aviva looks back at the last twenty years of her career, the motivation and energy to start a new career in health care and another one in electronic scientific publishing, she never forgets where it all began – in a small lecture hall in Jerusalem at Hebrew University.


Andre Friedman

Throughout his life, Andre Friedman has forged his own path, seizing opportunities and never letting adversity stop his progress on the path to success.

Andre was born in 1928 in Salgotarjan, a small Hungarian town. Salgotarjan had a Jewish community of approximately 300 families out of a total population of 15,000. He grew up as an observant Jew, attending a state-run school in the mornings followed by Hebrew school in the afternoons. Anti-Semitism was already heavily prevalent during Andre’s childhood.

As a young teenager, his parents sent him to Budapest to continue his education when the continued rise of anti-Semitism barred Jews from attending the local state-run school. When the Germans occupied Hungary in March 1944, Andre returned to Salgotarjan to be with his mother. His father had been sent to a forced labor camp the previous year. The Salgotarjan Jews were soon forced into a ghetto, and at 16, Andre was sent to a forced labor camp along with other men ranging in age from 16-50. Those remaining in the ghetto were sent to Auschwitz, where most perished, including his mother.

Miraculously, Andre and his father survived. After the war, Andre returned to Budapest to finish high school. Following graduation, he enrolled in a university there to study economics, but left after one year when the Communists seized control.

Andre knew he’d have to leave Hungary to find opportunity, but emigration was declared illegal. Following a circuitous journey through several countries, Andre connected with an outpost run by the new Israeli government, and arrived in Israel in April 1949.

In Israel, Andre joined the Israeli armed forces, serving two years in the Air Force. His time in the military afforded him the opportunity to learn Hebrew and Israeli culture, and focused his interest in the field of law, which led him to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HU).

In 1951, Andre matriculated at the Hebrew University’s Faculty of Law, then housed in an old French monastery in Jerusalem. He was a member of the Faculty’s fourth class and graduated in 1956.

At the time, there were no fees for attending HU, but most students still needed to work to cover the cost of living. Recognizing this, the university held classes in the late afternoon and evenings. Andre’s first job was in the Israeli Ministry of Commerce. Rising quickly through the ranks, he subsequently joined the State Controller’s office where he oversaw activities within the Foreign Exchange Division of the Treasury.

After completing his degree, Andre received a scholarship for post-graduate studies in France. He returned to Israel for a short time before leaving for another educational opportunity, this time in the United States. Andre had been accepted by Baruch College’s Business School in New York City.

Andre worked a variety of jobs to support himself when he came to New York. He worked as a file clerk in an export company, working his way up to become an assistant trader. His plan was to stay in New York for two years to earn his MBA and return to Israel, but frequent business travel to the Far East made it impossible for him to continue his studies at Baruch. But there was something else keeping him in New York.

In 1960, Andre met his wife, Rita, and called New York home. At the time, American regulations didn’t allow graduates of foreign law schools to practice law, so in 1964 Andre married Rita and launched his own export business exporting construction materials around the world.

During the 1980s, law practice regulations changed; Andre took the bar exam and could finally practice law in the U.S. At age 56, he sold his export firm-which by then had a presence in over 10 countries-and began his international law career.

With decades of experience in international trading, Andre went on to lead a successful legal career that took him all over the world, including back to Israel and Hungary. He represented many high-profile clients, and served as Regional General Counsel of Teva Pharmaceutical Company in Eastern Europe.

Andre retired in 2016, and in March 2018 he celebrated his 90th birthday in Israel. He recently completed his memoirs, which he wrote because “I felt that I represent a generation in history who survived the depths of an inferno, experienced the heights of grandeur, and still lived an ordinary life. Sharing my story is also a tribute to my fellow contemporaries who prevailed and an honor to those that succumbed.”

Andre’s story is indeed one worthy of note, filled with courage, tenacity, and a love of life. The Hebrew University is proud to be part of his remarkable life journey.


Mazal Yehezkely

Mazal Yehezkely was born in Tel Aviv and grew up in the city of Rishon Le Zion. She always dreamed of becoming a medical doctor and pursued her love for biology in high school. In the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Mazal served as a Sergeant in the Medical Corps, teaching soldiers to become paramedics and perform urgent surgeries in the field. She continued this path working for Magen David Adom as an instructor during her undergraduate studies.

After the IDF, Mazal went after another passion of hers, business and the markets, and enrolled in the Hebrew University for a BA degree in Business Administration and Economics.

(L-R) Gabriel Brahka, Mazal and Ori Mazal Yehezkely

The three years she spent on Mount Scopus were absolutely beautiful. Mazal met her future husband, Oren, on campus. The life in the dorms, acquiring best friends, and the city’s greatness contributed to her happiness and the decision to stay in Jerusalem for an additional seven years. One of her best memories from the time she was a student was the snowy winter in 1991. The blanket of snow that covered the university was magnificent and rare.



In 2006, Mazal and her family moved to Florida. In 2010, Mazal co-founded and managed the first Israeli Ladies group, Forum Nashim, in Aventura. The Forum provides social and intellectual enrichment to its Hebrew speaking members. As part of the Hebrew University alumni committee, Mazal is helping by expanding the audience at lectures, introduce new donors, and host events.


Currently, Mazal is a Senior Wealth Director at BNY Mellon Wealth Management, a firm that has more than two centuries of experience in providing services to clients who today include financially successful individuals and families, their business enterprises, planned giving programs, and endowments and foundations.

As a Senior Wealth Director in the Miami office, she matches prospective clients with financial solutions using her background in economics to help her clients understand macro and micro trends.


Mazal at the 2018 ALEF Conference


Mazal is also co-leading the Israeli Business Group in Florida. This organization has members who are Israeli-American business owners and executives and its mission is to promote and strengthen the relationships in the Israeli American business community and to become the primary contact choice for Israeli companies who look to grow in the U.S.


Israel Prize in literature to be awarded to David Grossman

Author David Grossman will be awarded the Israel Prize for Hebrew literature and poetry, the Education Ministry announced on Monday.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett approved the recommendation of the prize committee headed by Prof. Avner Holtzman and congratulated Grossman.

“Since the early 1980’s, David Grossman has taken his place at the center of Israeli culture and he is one of the most profound, moving, and influential voices in our literature,” the prize committee wrote in its decision.

In his novels, books, essays, documentary writing, in his extensive creations for children, he presented a series of masterpieces that excel in rich imagination, deep wisdom, human sensitivity, a poignant moral stand and a unique and resonant language,” the prize committee wrote.

The committee added that Grossman is one of the most “famous, admired, and beloved” Israeli writers in the world and that his books have been translated into dozens of languages.

Bennett defended giving the prize to an author who has been outspoken in his opposition to construction in Israeli settlements and has even backed the European labeling of products from over the Green Line. He told The Jerusalem Post that he has faced criticism from the Right for the decision but that he had no regrets.

“There are issues on which I disagree with him, but no dispute will remove from the magic of his books,” Bennett said. “He is an Israeli patriot who gave the dearest of all to Israel (his son, Staff Sgt. Uri Grossman, 20,  was killed in the 2006 Second Lebanon War). He is not an author of the Left and I am not the education minister of the Right. Hezbollah didn’t ask who is Right and Left and secular and religious when boys with different views were killed in the same tank.”

Grossman, born in Jerusalem, has written countless novels and children’s books including To the End of the Land, A Horse Walks into a Bar, The Book of Intimate Grammar and Someone to Run With.

On Sunday evening, the Education Ministry also announced the Israel Prize winners for research in physics and in psychology.

Prof. Shlomo Havlin, of Bar Ilan University, will receive the prize for his research in the field of physics.

“Prof. Havlin is one of the pioneers of a number of fields in statistical physics and its implications for complex systems in different areas,” the prize committee wrote in its decision. “Prof. Havlin deals with the generalization of knowledge in physical fields to the broadest areas, such as social networks, technological networks, economic networks, political systems, physiological systems and DNA function.”

The committee added that of all Israeli scientists, Prof. Havlin is the most cited by scientists around the world.
“He devotes his time and energies to imparting contemporary science to youth and contributes greatly to the creation of scientific ties between Israel and the world,” it wrote.

Prof. Yitzhak Shlesinger, of Hebrew University of Jerusalem, was awarded the Israel Prize for his research in psychology.

In its decision, the prize committee wrote that Shlesinger is one of the most important scientists in the field of psycholinguistics, contributing to the study of language processing and language development in children.

“He was a pioneer in the documentation and conceptualization of sign language in Israel. His work in the field of Talmudic argumentation, in connections with general issues in linguistic expression, is a unique contribution. His innovations are deeply entwined in Hebrew culture and language,” the prize committee wrote.

The Israel Prize is largely regarded as the state’s highest honor. It is presented annually on Independence Day in a state ceremony in Jerusalem in the presence of the president, the prime minister, the Knesset speaker and the Supreme Court president.

Read the source article at Jpost


Boaz Keysar

A surprising study shows how your brain may process information differently.

Suppose you were about to bet on a sporting event, like this weekend’s Super Bowl. Before making the decision if you should bet on the Philadelphia Eagles or the New England Patriots, would it make a difference if you were given each team’s stats in English or another language you happen to know?

You would think not, as the information you’re receiving is basically the same. But researchers have found that people make more deliberate and careful decisions when it’s being done in a foreign language. Why? Because having to think in another language requires more cognitive power. And by having to think it through more thoroughly, you’re more likely to make a rational decision.

The research – which looked at a wide range of issues including moral dilemmas and workplace issues – was led by Boaz Keysar. The Israel-born professor, who studied at Hebrew University and Princeton, is now the chair of the Cognition Program at the University of Chicago. “It may be intuitive that people would make the same choices regardless of the language they are using, or that the difficulty of using a foreign language would make decisions less systematic,” he explained. “We discovered, however, that the opposite is true: Using a foreign language reduces decision-making biases.”

Added his colleague Sayuri L. Hayakawa: “Your native language is acquired from your family, from your friends, from television. It becomes infused with all these emotions.”

Keysar’s goal was to tie all this research together. “I knew about the findings that people are less connected emotionally in their foreign language, and also knew about research in decision-making that shows that emotional reactions make us biased,” he said. “Somehow I connected the two and that got me thinking maybe that would lead people to make decisions differently in a foreign language.” Previous research has shown that bilingual people are also faster thinkers.

Students in Keysar’s lab recently released a new study which takes these findings a step further. They discovered that describing certain foods in a foreign language reduces our aversion to them. For example, if people knew they were being served snails, they might flinch. But when a restaurant puts the term “escargot” on the menu, the dish seems more palatable.

This dish looks delicious, but does it make a difference if it&squot;s called "escargot" or "snails"?This dish looks delicious, but does it make a difference if it’s called ‘escargot’ or ‘snails?’ (Photo: Shakim888 / Shutterstock)

Keysar is next interested in looking at whether language can be usefully considered in decisions made by doctors speaking a foreign language. “You might be able to predict differences in medical decision-making depending on the language that you use,” he said. “In some cases you might prefer a stronger emotional engagement, in some you might not.”

Keysar’s work on perception and bias is rooted in the research of fellow Israeli Daniel Kahneman, a psychologist who won the Nobel Prize in economics in 2002. Kahneman, who served as a mentor to famed behavioral economist Dan Ariely, was also the subject of a bestselling book by Michael Lewis last year.

Ok, so now we know how foreign languages can impact our decision-making process. But, um, what about sexy accents?

Read the source article at From the Grapevine


Rabbi Michael Beals

Rabbi Michael Beals was born in San Francisco, California. After studying as an undergrad at U. C. Berkeley, he moved to Washington, D.C. to study at the School of International Studies at The American University (AU). During his studies at AU, Rabbi Beals’ parents worried about his commitment to Israel and wanted to send their only son there for two weeks to ‘fix’ him. Michael claimed he would need an ENTIRE YEAR to ‘be repaired.’

OYP 87-88 with (L-R) Jon Boyer and Susie (Ugent) Berg


Celebrating his 25th birthday with friends

With the help of the Rothberg School for International Students’ Dov Friedlander, who was making his first Hebrew University recruitment trip to AU, Michael applied and received a 1987-88 Raoul Wallenberg Scholarship for an entire year at Hebrew University. The scholarship was funded by philanthropist Fred Schwartz, z”l, who hoped to give students, like Rabbi Beals, an aspiring diplomat, a year to truly absorb Israel and gain valuable leadership skills.

Rabbi Beals studied history and politics, and fell in love with campus life at Hebrew University, the Hebrew language, his Jewish heritage, the land and people of Israel, and his fellow students at Hebrew University. Several of his fellow students later served as groomsmen in his wedding party (Jon Boyer-best man, Marc Krell, Jonathan Wernick, Rabbi Mark Robbins). Two of these classmates (Rabbi Mark Robbins and Jewish educator Marc Krell) also helped pave his way to rabbinical school. Dr. Eric Berger, through a wedding invitation in Philadelphia, put Beals on a path to become the rabbi of Congregation Beth Shalom in Wilmington, Delaware, where he has served for the past 13 years of his 20-year rabbinate. (In his capacity as rabbi of Congregation Beth Shalom, Rabbi Beals is able to assist his congregant and friend, Seth Bloom, in his important work as the new Director of the Philadelphia Office of American Friends of the Hebrew University).

With Andrew Singer at Hebrew U 87-88 reunion

Rabbi Beals learned many, many important things during his year in the Wallenberg Program at Hebrew University.  One of lessons was that it is crucial, as a Jew, to serve on Israel’s unofficial “hasbara” team, providing fellow Americans a more complete, nuanced explanation of Zionist history and Israel’s current political situation, especially as it involves Palestinians and the challenging peace process. Had Beals NOT attended Hebrew University, it is highly unlikely that he would have changed careers from a government service/international relations track to passionately pursuing the rabbinate as a Conservative rabbi, serving both the Jewish people in the United States and in the State of Israel as a passionate advocate and educator.


Andrew L. Shapiro

Andrew Shapiro, a member of AFHU’s Northeast regional board, has spent the last two decades working at the nexus of new technologies and societal transformation, with a focus for more than 15 years on energy and environmental innovation. In 2012, he founded Broadscale Group, a new model of investment firm that is working with a network of leading energy corporations to commercialize the industry’s most promising innovations.

He has invested in, advised and served on the boards of more than 20 startups. Mr. Shapiro recently co-founded Resourcient, a new initiative to promote scalable investment in resource-efficient businesses. In 2000, he founded GreenOrder, a strategic advisory firm that worked with more than 100 leading enterprises. Mr. Shapiro worked with GE’s leadership on the creation and execution of its ecomagination initiative; worked with GM on strategic issues including the launch of the Chevrolet Volt; and served as the green advisor for 7 World Trade Center, New York City’s first LEED-certified office tower.

Mr. Shapiro has been a visiting faculty member at Columbia and Yale and a fellow at Harvard, and he is the author of two books and dozens of articles. A regular speaker at conferences, he has been described by Fortune  as “green business’ go-to guy” and profiled by The New York Times as “A Dollars-and-Cents Man with a Green Philosophy.”

In May 2017, Mr. Shapiro, a Hebrew University alumnus, was a speaker at NEXUS:ISRAEL, an interactive conference in New York presented by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem that brought together leading finance, investment, and business professionals with innovators, entrepreneurs and Nobel Laureates from the spheres of health, agriculture, nanotechnology, environmental and life sciences, and computer science.

Mr. Shapiro served as an event chair at the 2018 President’s International Business Leadership Forum in June 2018, a unique 3-day program designed to engage and connect global business leaders with Israeli innovation and ingenuity in Jerusalem, Israel.


Lanita Warner

Lanita Warner was a youth exchange student in Israel when she first learned about the Hebrew University (HU). At the feet of Har Ha’tzofim (Mount Scopus), her tour guide pointed up and said, “Look, at the top of that mountain is the HU: the Harvard of the Middle East where Nobel Laureates are born.” Those words struck a chord with her. Lanita was already deeply attached to Israel and wanted to return, so she decided to attend HU. The following year she studied at the Rothberg International School at HU (RIS) for a semester, after which she enrolled in an M.A. degree program.

It was RIS’s dynamic learning experience that encouraged her to return for her Masters. “When I consider my experiences at RIS, the buzzword that comes to mind is ‘well-rounded.’ I learned from the RIS’s faculty, staff, internships, day trips, Shabbaton getaways, and my peers.” She, like many of her peers, chose RIS for its academic and experiential learning opportunities. “HU utilizes the land of Israel as a classroom itself, which is why every student leaves with a wealth of knowledge.”

A RIS M.A. graduate of Jewish Studies, and the 2013-2014 recipient of the Dr. Sarah Mekler Weisz Prize for Outstanding Students, Lanita wishes to support her alma mater in an administrative role. This November, she joins American Friends of the Hebrew University as their Alumni Relations Coordinator. “I am grateful to be joining the AFHU family, because I desire to reinvest skills that I developed as a student at RIS.” Her central focus is “to kick-start a domino effect of alumni support, one that fuels and reignites alumni passion for the HU, and ensures the continuation of education and research at HU.”


Liraz Cohen Mordechai

Israel and fashion? Two things that are always in style! Hear how Hebrew University alumna Liraz Cohen Mordechai (Liri) combines them through Fashionating by Liri Inc. The company was established in 2016 to empower Israeli fashion designers, brands, and companies, and to bring Israel’s story through a new and unique perspective of fashion. So far, Liri presented her lecture in over 50 organizations across North America.

Liri is a fashion lecturer and NYC fashion blogger who is currently earning a Master’s degree in Global Fashion Management from FIT. Liri also manages the NY- Israel Fash&Tech Meetup community and, as a certified stylist, is deeply involved in the fashion industry in NYC. Prior to working at Duke, Liri was ZARA Israel’s Training and Development Department Manager responsible for the fashion, leadership, and educational training for 1,700 employees in over 50 stores. Additionally, Liri has over 10 years of experience in facilitating educational activities.


Idan Shalev

I arrived at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in the summer of 2005 with the goal of completing a Master’s degree in neurobiology, having recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology from the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. I was enrolled in the master’s program of Brain and Behavior at the Givat Ram campus, and during my first year I was already looking for a lab where I could pursue my doctoral degree. Luckily, I was able to join the lab of Professor Richard Ebstein, a leading expert in the field of behavioral genetics. After successfully completing my master’s degree, I began my Ph.D. studies, under the supervision of Professor Ebstein, in the Department of Neurobiology at the Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center. My doctoral research focused on the molecular genetic underpinning of the stress response in humans. This interest in the biology of exposure to stress, and the consequence of early adverse exposure on health in later life, emerged while serving as a medic in the paratroopers’ brigade in the Israeli Defense Forces.

My research as a Ph.D. student entailed an interdisciplinary investigation into the biomarkers of social stress in healthy human subjects. This research integrated the disciplines of molecular genetics, endocrinology, neurobiology and psychology. The goal of my dissertation was to dissect the biological and psychological properties of the stress response in human subjects. I tested how variations in different genes, as well as environmental measures of stressful life events, influenced neuro-endocrine response to an experimentally administered social stressor (i.e., the Trier Social Stress Test, TSST). Our results extended the body of evidence outlining the connection between common genetic variations, environmental measures of stressful life events, and social stress response in humans. In addition, my work also examined the involvement of two molecules, oxytocin and vasopressin, in modulating the human social brain. Since many animals display varying degrees of social behaviors, the evolution and selection of genes that foster such behaviors is of considerable interest. These behaviors include social stress, the quality of pair bonding, parenting, in-group and out-group relationships and social communications. Our findings indicated that common genetic variations modulates social stress and social behavior in healthy human subjects. Overall, this body of work enhanced our understanding on intriguing number of social behaviors that resonates across species.

After completing my Ph.D., I spent a few months in Singapore working with my Ph.D. adviser where I examined the effects of stress on economic decision making, before moving to Duke University for my postdoctoral training. In the Fall of 2011, I joined the lab of Professors Avshalom Capsi and Terrie Moffitt, world-renown experts in gene-environment interplay and developmental psychopathology. At Duke, I developed expertise in the new field of telomere science, a promising new biomarker of stress and aging. Telomeres are the protective caps on the ends of chromosomes that protect our genetic material. Over time, as telomeres become shorter and weaker, cells age and die, which can lead to increased disease rates. Studies have linked shorter telomeres to a wide range of aging-related diseases, including dementia, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers. My work with telomeres explores the influence of life stress on telomere shortening. Specifically, our research tests the effects of stress during childhood on change in telomere length across the life course and the consequences of change in telomere length for physical and mental health problems. In the first study of children, I showed that cumulative violence exposure was associated with accelerated telomere erosion, from age five to age 10, for children who experienced violence at a young age. This finding provided initial support for a mechanism linking cumulative childhood stress to telomere maintenance, observed already at a young age, with potential impact for life-long health.

I am currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biobehavioral Health at Penn State University. My work continues to explore the influence of stress throughout the life course on biological processes that can contribute to diseases and early mortality. My goal is to be able to characterize behavioral and molecular targets for public health surveillance and clinical treatment applications aimed at understanding and mitigating the consequences of stress exposure. My career would not have happened without my experience growing up in Israel, and the outstanding training and knowledge I gained during my time at the Hebrew University, which for me was always considered to be the best place in Israel to pursue higher academic degrees. I am a proud alumni member of the Hebrew University and I hope to continue to represent the University the best way I can.


Tamar Hoffman

My relationship with the Hebrew University started before I can even remember. In fact, it started before I was in anyone’s plans. My grandfather, Shalom Paska, was one of the first graduates of the faculty of law at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He attended the school with some of Israel’s leading counselors and Supreme Court judges and served the justice system in Israel for over than 50 years.

My father also attended HU  and studied economics and met my mother in Jerusalem before graduating. This, of course, led to me. Like my grandfather, I also graduated from the law faculty of Hebrew University. The period of my life at HU broadened my world and changed the way I carry myself today. There is an indescribable proud sensation you feel, knowing that like other great people; you are a part of this institution.

The amazing student life in Jerusalem is possible due to the high-quality and unique community which attends this school. I can easily name future leaders, politicians and judges that I  met at the university which will be, if not already are, in actively pursuit of making a better Israel and a better world. The entire educational and social experience is only strengthened by the incredibly diverse and colorful city of Jerusalem, which offers live music, art, history, bustling bars and marketplaces to shop in preparation for Shabbat.


James Matanky

James Matanky of Chicago, Illinois, is President of Matanky Realty Group and heads the development and brokerage arms of the company.  He maintains a steadfast commitment to Israel, higher education, and the Jewish community. An AFHU leader and Scopus Award recipient, James previously served two terms as President of the Midwest Region, serves on the National Board as the National Campaign Chair. He is a Governor of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem International Board Governors, and was honored as a Guardian on the the university’s Wall of Life, along with his wife Aviva.

An admired civic leader, James is the immediate past Chairman of the Illinois State Planning Committee of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC). He currently serves as the North American Chair of the ICSC Ambassador Program and is the Midwest Divisional Operations Chair. He regularly participates as a panelist for both the ICSC and the Urban Land Institute.

James has worked with the City of Chicago as a mentor for retail redevelopment and has served on the Chicago Building Department Commissioner’s advisory panel. He is Chairman of the Chicago Stockyard Commission SSA#13, and participates on the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago advisory panel. He was a board member of the Chicago Association of Neighborhood Development Organizations and headed their real estate committee, has served as a principal for a day in the Chicago public schools and was an officer of the West Humboldt Park Development Council. James is on the executive committee of the JCCs of Illinois and is a past Chairman of the Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago Circle Council.

Among his numerous accolades, James was honored as a recipient of the Chicago Neighborhood Developer of the Year Award multiple times for his work in Chicago’s underserved communities. He was also honored as a recipient of the Chicago Good Neighbor Award for his development on the west side. James received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Illinois, College of Law.

James Matanky graduated with honors from the University of Illinois with degrees in finance, accounting, and law, and earned an honors graduate degree in law from Cambridge University. He and Aviva are the proud parents of two children, Dahlia and Jonah.


Kevin Dwarka

I received my Ph.D. from Hebrew University’s Federmann School of Public Policy and Government. I wrote my dissertation on the politics surrounding the Jerusalem Light Rail project. I had the fortune of working with an amazing advisor, Eran Feitelson. While studying, I took full advantage of all the various resources at Hebrew University–taking courses not only in public policy but also in Jewish studies. I also spent a semester in Hebrew University’s Havruta program, an intensive Talmud study program that did wonders for my Hebrew and helped connect me to students from so many different departments.

While writing my dissertation, I also worked on a variety of professional planning initiatives including a study of smart growth and sustainable development through the Israel Union for Environmental Defense. After receiving my degree, I devoted myself to building my urban planning firm in New York City. Headquartered on Wall Street, my practice helps municipalities and private developers revitalize their neighborhoods and downtowns through public transit. My professional practice is informed by the valuable lessons I learned at HU about infrastructure finance. I am currently converting my dissertation on the Jerusalem Light Rail into a book about the ways the project has transformed Jerusalem, both culturally and politically.

I keep very connected to Israel. I try to visit twice a year and am very involved with the New Israel Fund, where I serve on the New Generations Steering Committee and support a range of outreach programs that advance social justice and pluralism in Israel. Recently, I taught an Israeli environmental politics course at Yeshiva University. I would not trade my five years of living in Israel for anything. My father went to both college and medical school at Hebrew University during the 60s, so my HU degree further strengthened our family’s ties to Jerusalem and the university.

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