This year’s BOT meetings featured the festive opening of the Weisfeld Social Work Clinics Wing and celebration of the School’s 50th anniversary, the plaque unveiling of the Leibler Judaica collection, the dedication of the Conrad Morris Pathway of Friendship as well as an intriguing panel discussion on the BDS, and the “Meet Our Students” Luncheon.
The new Weisfeld Clinics Wing in the Louis and Gabi Weisfeld School of Social Work was officially inaugurated in the presence of its devoted patron Gabi Weisfeld, Chairman of the Canadian Friends (pictured left with the School Director, Prof. Rachel Dekel). The School clinics offer help and hope to dozens of people from the surrounding communities, providing services in couples and family therapy, sex therapy, couple-based interventions in cases of post-traumatic stress, and play therapy. In honor of the School’s 50th, a film was screened about the School’s history and its leading role in addressing Israel society’s needs.
A plaque was unveiled for the Leibler Reference Collection, encompassing 40,000 volumes covering all aspects of 4,000 years of Jewish existence in the land of Israel and in the Diaspora — from history to culture and civilization. The outstanding gift of Isi Leibler (pictured second from right, with the Rector, Prof. Miriam Faust; Dr. Rochelle Kedar, Director of the BIU Library System; Naomi Leibler; and President Hershkowitz), this unique Judaica library collection will be housed at the University’s Wurzweiler Central Library, and will provide a rich resource of research material for students, scholars and others.
The Conrad Morris Pathway of Friendship was dedicated on campus as a posthumous tribute to the life and legacy of our dear friend Conrad Morris. The late Dr. (Honoris Causa) played a pivotal role in the founding of the Friends of Bar-Ilan in Britain in 1958, and served for a decade as its chairman. He was a member of BIU’s Board of Trustees, a founder of the School of Medicine in the Galilee, and supported Returning Scientists and Doctoral Fellows of Excellence at the University. He was also instrumental in establishing Beit HaRav Jakobovits/The Sami Shamoon Centre for the Study of Philosophy, Ethics and Jewish Thought, on the North Campus.
A lively and insightful panel discussion, “The BDS Wars: Distinguishing Hype from Threat” focused on the political implications, economic repercussions and the media impact of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. The engaging speakers included BESA senior researcher Prof. Jonathan Rynhold, Deputy Head of the Department of Political Studies; Economics Prof. Elise Brezis, Director of the Aharon Meir Center for Banking & Economic Policy; and Israeli publicist and journalist Ben-Dror Yemini. The panel was adeptly moderated by Political Studies Prof. Gerald Steinberg, Founder of BIU’s Conflict Management & Negotiation Program.
The Board of Trustees and students had a special bonding op at the “Meet Our Students” Luncheon, which showcased outstanding BIU undergrads and grads who chose to help others in original and engaging ways. Held under the auspices of BIU’s Office of the Dean of Students and the Student Union, the event was moderated by BIU alumnus and political studies lecturer Dr. David A. Leitner, an injured IDF vet, who teaches at the university and advises international students.
Gur David, a freshman studying political and Asisan studies, spoke of his volunteer activities in an organization which he established called “Fighters for Life,” which works to harness the social potential of tens of thousands of post-army Israeli backpackers traveling in third world countries for humanitarian work. Now directing the organization’s volunteer activities in India, David noted that in addition to making a difference in the lives of India’s poor, Fighters for Life has succeeded in improving Israel’s image.
Native New Yorker Bracha Lamm is the founder of “Here Next Year,” which helps hundreds of overseas youth spending their gap year at midrasha or yeshiva to decide whether to remain in Israel for IDF service, Sherut Leumi (National Service) and university. “After a year at midrasha, I understood that others like me had no real guidance for making these life-changing decisions, and that my role is to give and not just to take,” she told the audience. “This is what motivated my decision to stay here and do national service in Jerusalem. After my service, Bar-Ilan was a natural choice for me because of its high academic level, values and strong Anglo-Saxon community.”
Nir Shabi, a married father of two, spoke of his challenging rehabilitation from a traumatic emotional crisis following his IDF service. Determined to professionally assist people who confront emotional problems, he enrolled in BIU’s social work program. In his first professional job in the field, he established and directed a unique social club that is completely managed by the mentally ill. Today he trains rehabilitation instructors to work with people who cope with psychiatric illness. He also appears on stage with his personal story, “Enough with the Stigma”, which relays the challenging road to recovery. Shabi noted the tremendous support he received from Weisfeld School faculty and students after he suffered an additional mental breakdown during the course of his studies. He concluded by strumming his guitar, sweeping the audience into Arik Einstein’s song “You and I will change the world”.