Duty Called but Their True Calling Is University Studies
Even before Yonatan Juhl, a tank platoon commander, was called up for reserve duty on Oct. 7, he rushed to join his unit in southern Israel. When Carmel Cohen, a captain in the Homefront Command, got called up, she immediately headed to her base where she’s been serving for almost three months. Both are among the 6,000 young people studying at Tel Aviv University who were mobilized for IDF duty after the Hamas attacks of Oct. 7 – just one week before the 2023-24 academic year was scheduled to begin.
The school year was since postponed four times, but Israel’s universities are finally set to open, and Tel Aviv University now faces a major challenge in helping reservist students transition back to their study programs and career paths.
“Out of a tremendous sense of duty, these brave young people put their dreams on hold and their lives in danger in defense of Israel – and now we are equally duty-bound to ensure they get all the academic and financial assistance they need to save this school year,” said Prof. Ariel Porat, President of Tel Aviv University (TAU).
The University hopes to provide personalized tutoring and generous scholarships to each and every returning student, President Porat stressed.
Danielle Zilber, who chairs TAU’s Student Union, added, “Students are facing significant financial hardship. Assistance with tuition, living expenses and dorm fees will greatly aid them."
Yonatan was wounded in combat and is now recuperating at home. The 27-year-old is looking forward to resuming his TAU studies in materials engineering and chemistry. “My goal is to become an R&D scientist in energy applications,” he says.
Carmel, 26, is a student in the BA Excellence Track in Acting, at TAU’s Theater Arts Department. She is a captain in the National Aid Battalion of the Homefront Command, which responds to citizens affected by war.
“These are tough times for us,” Carmel says, “and we try to help as much as we can.”
She says that she hopes to return to studies soon, and with a little help she will be able to pursue her dream of becoming an actress and “making people smile.”
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