Unstoppable in Their Academic Dreams

Providing specialized equipment, mentoring, scholarships and a warm home, the Pinkas Accessible Learning Center ensures that all disabled students at TAU have optimal study conditions
23 August 2018
Pinkas Center recipient Adi Sharabi. Credit: Yehonatan Duvdevan Zur

Adi Sharabi has never let stigmas or day-to-day struggles stop him. Partially deaf in both ears since he was a baby, Adi had to overcome missed class material throughout his schooling – yet he still graduated high school with high grades. Today, at 31 years old, he’s flourishing as a contracts and real estate lawyer and is married to a full-hearing woman. He’s also gone back to school to get a master’s degree in Geography and Environmental Studies at Tel Aviv University.


“Life isn’t easy as a partially deaf person,” he says. “Each and every day I come across people who do not understand the severity of my hearing loss and the requirements for communicating with me.”


That’s why Adi is grateful for the sophisticated study aids at TAU’s Mia and Mile Pinkas Accessible Learning Center, as well as for his Pinkas Scholarship. “It’s a great place to study and above all, accessible!” he says. “It means a great deal to me.”


Immediate impact on lives

The Pinkas Center was established in 2015 by longtime TAU benefactors Mia and the late Haim Mile Pinkas, who was a TAU Governor. The couple’s fondest wish was to have a real and immediate impact on the lives of TAU students. The Center offers a study facility with specialized computers and software to a spectrum of students with special needs. These include people born with physical, hearing or vision impairments; former combat soldiers with injuries; victims of terror attacks; and young people with chronic illnesses. In addition, the Mia and Mile Pinkas Fund provides scholarships together with essential services for students such as tutoring, mentoring, psychological support, career counseling and group workshops.


In the 2017-18 academic year the Pinkas Center assisted 174 students through its programs, including funding 623 tutoring hours and allocating 49 scholarships. Administering the activities are the Unit for Student Advancement at the Ruth and Allen Ziegler Student Services Division in partnership with the Elias Sourasky Central Library.


The Pinkas’ son Miguel Pinkas, also a TAU Governor and a TAU Global Campaign Cabinet member, says that the family is delighted with the work of the Center and that “everyone should know about the great work TAU is doing with these students to assist them concretely, give them a supportive environment and make sure they succeed in their studies.” Mr. Pinkas personally meets with students at the Center every year.


Aiming high in tough departments

Twenty-four year old Liraz Halo, another Pinkas Center recipient, was diagnosed at age 9 with severe spinal scoliosis and had to wear a back brace until age 13. At age 17, she was diagnosed with a second genetic disease – a rare muscle wasting disorder called HIMB or GNE myopathy with as yet no cure.


Despite her conditions, Liraz successfully finished school, volunteered in a youth movement counseling youngsters, worked as a teacher’s assistant, and went to the beach and concerts with friends. Her school performance was so outstanding that she was accepted into one of TAU’s most competitive departments, Psychology, and is now combining her BA studies there with Sociology and Anthropology.


As of now it’s hard for her to maintain a routine of studies, physical therapy and social life, but the Pinkas Center is helping her persevere.


“My condition keeps getting worse as my muscles get weaker,” she says, “and I need help with my daily routines. The scholarship I receive from the Pinkas Center helps me pay for this help.”


Liraz also benefits from the group activities sponsored by the Pinkas Center. “As part of the scholarship, I participate in a support group for students with all kinds of disabilities. We help each other with our difficulties,” she says.


“Thanks to the Pinkas family I got to meet an amazing group of fellow students I now call friends, and it makes it easier to get by,” Liraz says.


Adi Sharabi echoes this gratitude and appreciation. “The difficulties due to my hearing loss haven’t ended and will continue as far as I know for the rest of my life. But because of the Pinkas family support, I’m getting help in achieving one of my biggest dreams – graduating with a master’s degree!”



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