Israel’s President Graces Campus
The Presidential visit kicked off with a tour of several labs. In the lab of Prof. Tal Dvir of the George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences, President Rivlin observed how researchers are using patient’s own cells to engineer patches that can replace damaged heart tissue. At the BLAVATNIK CENTER for Drug Discovery, the delegation met with Professors Ehud Gazit, Dan Peer, Ronit Satchi-Fainaro and Miguel Weil, who are pioneering research in cancer and rare diseases, and heard about their efforts to translate academic innovations into drugs and clinical treatments.
President Rivlin then joined a panel of researchers and TAU top officials at the Cymbalista Jewish Heritage Center, where he shared his thoughts about the role of academia in Israeli society, and heard about additional developments in research and in social involvement.
In his greetings, TAU President Joseph Klafter referred to Rivlin’s famous speech, in which he described the demographic processes that have created "four tribes" within Israel: secular Jews, religious Jews, ultra-Orthodox Jews, and minorities such as Arabs and Druze.
“Tel Aviv University is determined to address these challenges and to that end it is increasing its social involvement projects,” said Prof. Klafter. “The goals we have set include enhancing accessibility to higher education for youngsters across Israel, minimizing social gaps, and diversifying our student body, so as to allow all the different ‘tribes’ within Israeli society to benefit from higher education. In our vision, academia will bring them all together, creating a common ground that is so vital for the future of Israel.”
Dean of Students Prof. Tova Most presented TAU’s Impact Program which offers students accredited courses that involve community engagement projects. Arab master’s student Hiyam Diab then shared her experience of creating a dialogue with prisoners and even changing their perceptions through Community Theater. Prof. Noam Shomron of the Sackler Faculty of Medicine and his master’s student Malak Darawshe showed how their efforts to decode the secrets of the human genome may one day help cure or prevent diseases; Prof. Yael Hanein, Head of the Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, and Rabbi Daniel Cohen presented an unusual project that brings together Ultra-Orthodox rabbis with TAU scientists for dialogue and cooperation on issues at the crossroads of science and Torah study; and Prof. Noam Mizrahi, Head of Bible Studies, explained how state-of-the-art technologies, such as AI or DNA decryption, are taking the study of the Dead Sea Scrolls to the next level.
President Rivlin conveyed his hopes for the future: “I saw here today not only great scientific discoveries, but also a true understanding of the need for dialogue, and the ability to see what connects us, and not only what separates us from one another,” he said. "I hope that our society will similarly become more inclusive, so that all university graduates, no matter what their backgrounds, will be able to integrate into Israeli society and not be blocked by a ‘glass ceiling.’”