A Family Legacy

A lifelong dedication to learning, science and innovation drives Dr. Avraham Kadar, supporter of Yiddish and science at TAU
14 April 2013
Pictured: Dr. Avraham Kadar

Dr. Avraham Kadar of New York is a man of many passions. Among them are a belief in the transformative power of education and a deep commitment to commemorating his late wife, Naomi Prawer Kadar, PhD, a lifelong educator and specialist in Yiddish children’s literature and in teaching English as a second language.   


At TAU, Naomi’s life work continues through the Naomi Prawer Kadar International Yiddish Summer Program, housed in TAU’s Goldreich Family Institute for Yiddish Language, Literature and Culture at the Lester and Sally Entin Faculty of Humanities. The program, which has been running for seven years in cooperation with Beth Shalom Aleichem, was dedicated in Naomi’s name in 2012 through the support of the Naomi Foundation, a charity set up by the Kadar family.  


The Naomi Kadar Yiddish Summer Program features a dynamic selection of lectures, workshops, performances and conversation classes. Last year, 98 students from 15 countries took part, including from Australia and Japan. TAU Program Director Prof. Hana Wirth Nesher, Head of the Goldreich Institute, says, “What makes the Naomi Kadar Yiddish Program so special is the diverse group of students, the rich afternoon program, and the sense of community that is created by total linguistic immersion and an array of cultural events. We also attract extraordinarily good teachers, among whom was Naomi, a lifelong Yiddish educator who honored us by teaching here at TAU in the last years of her life.” 


For the love of Yiddish

The Yiddish summer program at TAU was especially meaningful to Naomi Prawer Kadar because it combined two loves: Israel and Yiddish. When she fell ill with cancer, Naomi remained committed to the program, saying that traveling from New York to Tel Aviv to teach provided her with joy and strength. Her students appreciated her special warmth and enthusiasm as well as her ability to make the Yiddish language come alive.


“Naomi was dedicated to improving the level of Yiddish scholarship and language study worldwide and to building community around the richness of the Yiddish culture,” says her husband, Dr. Kadar. “Supporting the summer program in which Naomi taught is a way for us to transmit her love and enthusiasm for Yiddish to a new generation of students and scholars, and to uphold Yiddish as a modern, relevant and culturally significant language,” he said.  


Dr. Kadar notes that few people “had the knowledge that Naomi had of Judaism. During her life she influenced hundreds of students. One of our ways of memorializing her legacy is through the Yiddish program at Tel Aviv University.”


At last year’s closing ceremony, Dr. Kadar told the graduating students: “The future of Yiddish is sitting in this room. Graduates of this program will become ambassadors of the language and will help expand the reach of Yiddish throughout the world.”


At TAU, the Naomi Foundation also funds the new Tel Aviv University Training Fellowships Abroad (TFA) in the Medical and Life Sciences. The program’s goal is to send graduate students, researchers, clinicians at the resident level and senior technicians to overseas laboratories where they can learn skills and techniques not available in their home environment. The program is initiated and headed by Prof. Yossi Shiloh of the Sackler Faculty of Medicine.


Animated learning

A pediatrician and NIH-trained immunologist, Dr. Kadar has transformed an enduring fascination with science and innovation into two successful careers, first as a researcher and a physician and later as an international entrepreneur. Motivated by a desire to boost children’s critical thinking skills and make learning fun, he founded BrainPOP in 1999, an animated software site available to schools and individuals through subscription. The increasingly popular site gets 11 million visits a month and provides more than 750 animated movies covering science, technology and the liberal arts, as well as reading and writing English as a second language.


Kadar stresses the strong family nature of the business. While he serves as Chairman and CEO, his three children, Maya, Nadav and Einat, serve as vice presidents. “Together with Naomi, we devoted our lives to the very passions and values upon which the Naomi Foundation is based – family, social justice, love and community,” he says.


Medical training at TAU

Dr. Kadar began his formal studies in physics at the Hebrew University, followed by medical training at TAU’s Sackler School of Medicine, with ongoing specialization in pediatrics. He has been a fellow in the Laboratory of Clinical Investigation at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland. He also trained at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Hospital in New York and has held faculty positions at the college since 1989, including currently as Assistant Clinical Professor, Division of Allergy and Immunology. He also ran a private practice in New York City and Westchester, NY.


Dr. Kadar emphasizes that while he is a pioneer in the online world, he remains a physician and educator at heart.


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