Omer Zlotnick, TAU graduate student
Tel Aviv University | 2022
Taking Flight: TAU Solutions to the Climate Crisis
TAU Tallies 395
Researchers among Global Best
in Digital Learning
TOP 100 International University
World’s for Industry-Research Collaboration
* More details: https://english.tau.ac.il/international_rankings
21 Film School
Standing Up to Climate Change
TAU is fighting climate change with impactful research and innovations
Redefining Good Education An interview with change-makers Dr. Kathy Fields and Dr. Garry Rayant
Tel Aviv University | 2022
Cover: Graduate student Omer Zlotnick, of Dr. Ofir Levy’s lab, launches a Kit A1 Drone from TAU’s Mechanical Engineering Projects Laboratory. Photo: Yoram Reshef
Follow us! Global TAU
News in Brief
The Social Page
Campus of Champions 20 Sylvan Adams launches new scholarship fund for student athletes
Ministerial Matters Pnina Tameno Shete brings a fresh perspective to key government post
Officers of Tel Aviv University Ms. Dafna Meitar-Nechmad Chairwoman of the Board of Governors Mr. Eli Gelman Chairman of the Executive Council Prof. Ariel Porat President Prof. Mark Shtaif Rector Mr. Gady Frank Director-General Prof. Milette Shamir Vice President, International Prof. Dan Peer Vice President for Research and Development Mr. Amos Elad Vice President for Development and Alumni Affairs Prof. Jacob A. Frenkel, Mr. Robert Goldberg, Dr. h.c. Michael H. Steinhardt Chairmen Emeriti of the Board of Governors Dr. h.c. Dame Shirley Porter, Dr. h.c. Jeremy Coller Deputy Chairpersons of the Board of Governors Dr. h.c. Sylvan Adams, Dr. h.c. Marcus Besen, Dr. h.c. Josef Buchmann, Dr. h.c. Boaz Dotan, Dr. Anita Friedman, Dr. h.c. Sami Sagol Vice Chairpersons of the Board of Governors Dr. Anita Friedman Chair of the TAU Global Campaign Prof. Eyal Zisser Vice Rector Prof. Yaron Oz Pro-Rector Prof. Eran Neuman Dean of the Yolanda and David Katz Faculty of the Arts Prof. Yossi Rosenwaks Dean of the Iby and Aladar Fleischman Faculty of Engineering Prof. Tova Milo Dean of the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Faculty of Exact Sciences Prof. Rachel Gali Cinamon Dean of the Lester and Sally Entin Faculty of Humanities Prof. Sharon Hannes Dean of the Buchmann Faculty of Law Prof. Abdussalam Azem Dean of the George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences Prof. Moshe Zviran Dean of the Coller School of Management Prof. Ehud Grossman Dean of the Sackler Faculty of Medicine Prof. Itai Sened Dean of the Gershon H. Gordon Faculty of Social Sciences Prof. Drorit Neumann Dean of Students Prof. Liat Kishon Rabin Dean of Innovation in Learning and Teaching
TAU REVIEW | 2 0 2 2
Dear Friends, As this edition of TAU Review went to print, the humanitarian crisis in the Ukraine was deepening, with over two million refugees streaming out of the country. We at Tel Aviv University felt a need to do our part and quickly rolled out an emergency fellowship drive to bring Ukrainian graduate students and researchers to campus. The swift response by our TAU friends around the world has been heartwarming. A major lead gift dedicated by David Baazov of Montreal to his late father, Joseph Baazov, was followed by generous donations by TAU Governors Vlad and Sana Shmunis of the SF Bay Area and TAU Honorary Doctor, Governor and Global Campaign Cabinet Member Miles S. Nadal of Toronto. We hope many other caring people follow suit. (Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org) Ukrainians brought to Israel by the government are being welcomed by Minister of Aliyah and Integration Pnina Tameno Shete, TAU alumna and Israel’s first Ethiopian-born minister, who shares her unique perspective in this issue. Meanwhile, spring semester of the 2021-22 academic year opened with less COVID restrictions—finally—and renewed energies. Starting with a new center for virtual reality-enhanced scientific experiments, breakthroughs in reversing spinal paralysis and ALS, and the testing of medical diagnostics in space, TAU is opening new vistas for Israel and the world. The re-opening of Israel to foreigners will give a boost to TAU International, which is slated to receive a large donation to bolster student enrollment, degree programs, visiting professors, and study and research collaborations with top universities abroad. Wonderful developments in the spheres of the humanities, arts and sciences are made possible due to the amazing dedication of TAU’s friends and supporters in Israel and abroad. We’re proud and grateful to receive this support and look forward to continued success in the future. Regards and enjoy your read,
Prof. Ariel Porat President, Tel Aviv University
Delving into the Human Mind in Multiple Dimensions A
t the new Extended Realities Lab, or “TAU XR,” researchers from across campus can use immersive, augmented and mixed-reality environments for conducting experiments spanning all disciplines as well as for enhancing students’ learning experience. When subjects wear virtual reality (VR) goggles at the lab, they plunge into a three-dimensional space that appears and feels completely real. It can be a maze with endless corridors, a museum, a busy intersection, a courtroom, a theatrical production or an airplane. The virtual reality environment can be enhanced by real objects added to the mix. “These are data-rich environments, where every minute detail can be measured: the eye, head and body movements of a person, their reactions. We can now quantify this data and obtain unique insights into the human mind, cognition, intelligence and many other subjects in more naturalistic settings,” says Prof. Tom Schonberg of the Wise Faculty of Life Sciences and Sagol School of Neuroscience. He directs both TAU
TAU XR staff Yoni Katzir and Shanny Goldschmid
XR, which is located at the Sourasky Central Library, and the new Minerva Center for Human Intelligence that the lab serves. Head of the Library Dr. Naama Scheftelowitz leads the learning and outreach activities at TAU XR, the renovation of which was supported by Victor Constantiner. 3
Discovering the Key to Beating ALS? A
Tel Aviv University-led team identified a mechanism that causes ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) and succeeded in reversing its effects in the laboratory. Although the root cause of ALS remains unknown, the researchers revealed the process by which an abnormal buildup of a protein called TDP-43 causes the initial nerve damage behind the debilitating disease. Eventually, the deterioration of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord causes ALS patients to lose voluntary
muscle ability, leading to paralysis, including the inability to breathe independently. The researchers succeeded in dismantling this toxic protein buildup in nerve cells sampled from ALS patients. The nerve cells regenerated and almost completely recovered. ALS afflicts an estimated one out of every 400 people; average life expectancy is approximately three years from diagnosis.
Prof. Eran Perlson
“Our discovery could lead to new therapies that heal ALS-damaged nerve cells before irreversible damage occurs in the spinal cord,” said lead investigator Prof. Eran Perlson of TAU’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine and Sagol School of Neuroscience. “This is big news for sufferers of this deadly disease that, to date, has no effective form of prevention or treatment.”
Promoting Understanding through Architecture
Dr. Fatina Abreek-Zubiedat
r. Fatina Abreek-Zubiedat, a new recruit at TAU’s Azrieli School of Architecture, researches how architecture shapes identity, politics and socio-economic currents in cities, especially in developing countries and marginalized societies. “Architecture is the fundamental basis of identity. It shapes the narrative of an area and its functionality,” she 4
TAU REVIEW | 2 0 2 2
explains. “Finding the roots of this narrative helps us understand why a city’s infrastructure, roads and buildings are created in a certain way and why we need to invent new tools to build a more equitable world. For example, roads are not just roads; they can connect, or they can separate.” Abreek-Zubiedat is the first Arab faculty member at the Azrieli School,
Katz Faculty of Arts. A fellow of the Neubauer Foundation’s Israeli-Arab Academic Career Pathways Initiative at TAU, she will soon open her Lab of “Urban Histories in Transition” at the School. “Amid geopolitical unrest, refugee migration and the climate crisis, architects must play an active role in shaping the world. Architecture can move us closer to understanding each other, beyond the narrow, disconnected histories of national conflicts,” says Abreek-Zubiedat. Similarly, she hopes that students get to know “the other”—peers from diverse backgrounds and ethnicities— in her classroom and thus become agents of change in society.
Cancer Innovation Harnesses Tumor-Fighting “Superheroes” T
el Aviv University researchers and their colleagues took a big step in developing a technology that could revolutionize cancer treatments using immunotherapy. A therapy known as “CAR-T” has already transformed the treatment of blood cancers around the world. However, until now, it has proven less successful against solid tumors. Dr. Yaron Carmi of TAU’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine, together with hospital and industry partners, invented a new technique for CAR-T therapy design. In preliminary lab tests, the method eradicated solid tumors with greater efficiency and fewer side effects than existing approaches. Carmi’s team is now working toward clinical trials. “There’s a lot of excitement from the scientific community and investors
he “hyper-categorization” of women in the Jewish legal tradition can help us understand women’s status and inequality today, according to Dr. Avital Davidovich-Eshed of TAU’s Rosenberg School of Jewish Studies and Archaeology. As an historian studying medieval Jewish texts, Davidovich-Eshed analyzes the multitude of female categories constructed by halacha, the body of Jewish law, and the various ways these categories influence gender norms through myth, ritual and oral literary traditions. The categories range from “perfect” virgins to witches—the ultimate outsiders—and determine how women participated (or didn’t) in legal interactions, social encounters and religious rituals.
support of TAU’s Varda and Boaz Dotan about the life-saving potential of our method to eventually be adapted to all Research Center for Hemato-Oncology. types of cancers,” says Carmi. Unlike chemotherapy, which uses powerful chemicals to fight cancer, CAR-T therapies genetically modify certain cells to amplify the immune system’s natural ability to fight malignancy. Carmi’s innovation differs from existing methods in that it engineers a new type of molecular structure that converts infectionfighting T-cells into “tumor-killing machines, like superheroes.” The breakthrough Dr. Yaron Carmi (center) with doctoral candidates was achieved with the Lea Monteran (left) and Ye’ela Scharff
From Medieval Texts to Today’s Gender Norms
“The hyper-categorization of women we find in halacha points to fear and anxiety surrounding female sexuality and, as a result, the cultural urge to police and control women,” she says.
Davidovich-Eshed explains, for example, that the Talmud discusses at length the differences between marriages to virgins and widows, including designating days of the week for each. We see the ramifications of these patriarchal laws and ideas today: virginity and sexual experience are still inextricably tied to women’s identity. Many cultures insist that women be virgins when they marry, while women who express their sexuality are sometimes branded as immoral and punished with social sanctions, she adds. Davidovich-Eshed’s work on this topic is the subject of her forthcoming book On Virginity: Gender, Body and Identity in Medieval Jewish Culture.
3D Implants May Help Paraplegics Walk Again
Tel Aviv University breakthrough may enable people with paralysis to walk again after researchers successfully engineered the world’s first human spinal cord implants. Prof. Tal Dvir, head of the Sagol Center for Regenerative Biotechnology and the Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, led the TAU team that developed the 3D implants from human cells. Pre-clinical trials showed high rates of healed spinal damage and revived walking abilities. The researchers aim to replicate the results in human clinical trials within three years. “There are millions of people around the world who are paralyzed due
to spinal injury, and there is still no effective treatment,” says Dvir. “Our goal is to produce personalized spinal cord implants for every paralyzed person.” Using genetic engineering, the researchers transformed patient tissue
into functioning implants through a process that mimics the embryonic development of the spinal cord. Growing the implants from a patient’s own cells, Dvir explains, creates a personalized treatment designed to match an individual’s immune response. This virtually eliminates the risk that the body will reject the implant—one of the biggest challenges in the field. Once injected, the implants interact with healthy tissue to activate recovery. Dvir is also a member of the Shmunis School of Biomedicine and Cancer Research, Wise Faculty of Life Sciences.
A spinal cord model
TAU Brings Health Diagnostics to the Next Frontier: Space A
Eytan Stibbe in Dr. Dudu Burstein’s lab
TAU REVIEW | 2 0 2 2
s space exploration expands, how can astronauts with limited medical facilities protect their health with faster and more accurate detection of infection and other ailments? To answer this question, Dr. Dudu Burstein of TAU’s Shmunis School of Biomedicine and Cancer Research will send CRISPR-based technology—best known as the breakthrough tool for genome editing—to the International Space Station (ISS). Israeli astronaut Eytan Stibbe is slated to perform an experiment developed by Burstein’s team and partners at Israel’s Volcani Institute, to test the
diagnostic capabilities of CRISPR systems in extraterrestrial conditions. It is one of several TAU innovations connected to the historic mission that will make Stibbe the second Israeli in space.
“Since these systems are compact and easy to use, they are ideal for detecting illness during long space missions, including future expeditions to the moon and Mars,” explains Burstein. “In addition, CRISPR may eventually be able to diagnose crop diseases in space farming.” The Axiom Space Ax-1 mission led by Stibbe and the first all-private crew to the ISS was scheduled for launch on March 31 at publication time.
Dr. Ofir Levy studies lizards native to the Negev desert, such as this one, as part of his research on climate change.
Standing up to Climate Change TAU researchers and alumni are making significant environmental impact on the ground—now By Julie Steigerwald-Levi
software programmer, an ecologist and a wildlife photographer enter a room. This is not the preamble to a joke. This is a normal scene in Dr. Ofir Levy’s Tel Aviv University lab, where a diverse group of scientists develop advanced tools to protect wildlife in the face of the accelerating climate crisis.
Levy is among the scores of TAU researchers who are pursuing innovative solutions under TAU’s Climate Crisis Initiative, also known as PlanNet Zero, a new nerve center uniting brainpower from all faculties—along with industry and government partners. Leveraging TAU’s
interdisciplinary and entrepreneurial strengths, the Initiative aims to spearhead new technologies, models, regulations and policy recommendations for tackling the climate crisis. “Climate records are being shattered nearly every year,” explains Levy of the 7
BIG IDEAS School of Zoology, Wise Faculty of Life Sciences. “It is up to us to safeguard the biodiversity critical to the planet’s ecological balance.” Together with researchers from TAU’s new Center for Artificial Intelligence and Data Science, Levy’s lab develops AI and machine learning technologies to simulate future ecosystems. Using these models, the team can determine which animal populations are most vulnerable to climate risks and provide decision-makers with effective recommendation for protecting them. “AI is taking climate research to new frontiers,” explains Levy. “It offers a window into the future implications of climate change on
the need for animals to modify their habitats because of desertification, urbanization and deforestation.” Levy recently won competitive grants from National Geographic’s “AI for Earth” and the joint TAU-Google “AI for Social Good” programs.
Mobilizing TAU’s Collective Power Amid the growing global need to meet climate targets, TAU is redoubling efforts to lead transformative change and has made the topic an institutional priority. “It’s now the era for scientists and academia to help find solutions to the climate situation,” says Prof. Colin Price, who heads PlanNet Zero together with
Climate Research at TAU TAU researchers from across campus are finding ways to mitigate climate change, among them: • Prof. Brian Rosen (Engineering) patented a technology that consumes greenhouse gases to generate clean synthetic fuels. • PhD candidate Hofit Shachar (Exact Sciences) is developing a mobile app that predicts the risk of wildfires. • Dr. Eran Tzin (Law, Legal Clinics) applies his research to ensure implementation of Israel’s climate commitments. • Prof. Colin Price (Exact Sciences) is building a nanosatellite to monitor climate conditions from space. • Dr. Ram Fishman (Social Sciences) discovered a link between violence and rising temperatures. • Sophia Igdalov, of Dr. Vered Blass’s team (Exact Sciences), evaluated the carbon footprint of materials used in Israel's housing industry, suggesting strategies to cut emissions.
the Department of Environmental Studies at TAU’s Porter School of the Environment and Earth Sciences. Among institutional efforts, TAU rolled out plans to reduce its environmental footprint and eventually reach carbon-neutrality, a benchmark Israel and other nations pledged to meet by 2050 to mitigate global warming. Moreover, in an effort to disentangle the climate crisis for the public, the Steinhardt Museum of Natural History at TAU unveiled the exhibition “Global Warning: The Climate, the Crisis and Us.” “Climate change is the greatest challenge facing humanity today,” says Prof. Tamar Dayan, Chair of the Steinhardt Museum. “Alongside the exhibition, we aspire to turn our visitors into agents for change, who will carry the message beyond the Museum’s walls.”
Redesigning Trends in Sustainability To push the needle on the global climate crisis, PhD candidate Meital
TAU REVIEW | 2 0 2 2
“When we think of the climate crisis, we think of Australian wildfires, vanishing polar bears and droughts in Syria,” she says. “The connection between these events and the clothes in our closets are usually overlooked; in fact, fashion is one of the most significant factors in dealing with the climate crisis.”
TAU: Hub for Regional Cooperation TAU’s location in the heart of the Middle East with proximity to Israel’s Meital Peleg Mizrahi (center) and friends modeling sustainable fashion diverse ecosystems contributes to its edge in leading regional climate initiatives. consumer behavior that promote Peleg Mizrachi, of TAU’s Department For example, to address transsustainable fashion. Tal is one of of Public Policy, is advocating for border water issues in the Middle several TAU a fashion East, TAU Prof. Hadas Mamane of the climate industry Fleischman Faculty of Engineering is experts in makeover. eyeing cooperation opportunities with AI is taking climate research prominent Peleg regional partners. to new frontiers... It offers a government As floods, droughts and extreme Mizrachi, an roles, environmental weather intensify due to climate window into the future. including change, UNICEF estimates that by justice zoology researcher at 2025, half of the world’s population will live in areas with water TAU and social entrepreneur, is a rising Prof. Noga Kronfeld-Schor, authority in Israel on making fashion— Chief Scientist at Israel’s scarcity. Meanwhile, Environmental the world’s second-most polluting Israel’s chronic water Protection Ministry. industry—sustainable. shortage has The process of manufacturing In a recent necessitated the project, Peleg clothing emits over 40 billion tons of development of textile waste and 1.2 billion tons, or 10 Mizrachi novel solutions. gauged the Mamane percent, of greenhouse gases—the prices at which heads the main driver of global warming. At the root of the industry’s environmental consumers are Water-Energy more inclined to Laboratory. With footprint, Peleg Mizrahi explains, is shop sustainably. the exploding “fast fashion” market of the support of quickly and cheaply mass-produced In other studies, she the Asper Clean demonstrated how garments. Water Fund, her team Prof. Hadas Mamane new technologies and Under the supervision of Knesset develops efficient UV-LED Member and TAU Prof. Alon Tal, Peleg market behaviors spurred lighting technologies that by COVID-19 can be transformed into Mizrachi’s research explores ways to disinfect water using solar power, encourage economic regulation and climate solutions. among other pursuits. The invention 9
TAU student David Shurman (right) conducts research on solar power in Rwanda through the NITSAN Sustainable Development Lab led by Dr. Ram Fishman and Prof. Hadas Mamane.
is suitable for use in remote areas with limited access to the chemicals and electricity used in traditional water decontamination. Additionally, water monitoring tools developed by her lab are already used in India and Tanzania in several projects carried out with Dr. Ram Fishman of the Gordon Faculty of Social Sciences and Boris Mints Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions to Global Challenges. “We are trying to help some of the world’s most vulnerable populations access resources that should be afforded to them as part of their basic human rights,” says Mamane. Now, Mamane hopes to launch a project with the Palestinian Authority and the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies to purify and disinfect sewage water for unrestricted agricultural use, including crop cultivation. In another regional partnership borne through the Abraham Accords, TAU’s Moshe Mirilashvili Institute for Applied Water Studies, headed by Prof. Dror Avisar of the Porter School of the Environment and Earth Sciences, is involved in joint Israeli-UAE water research.
accelerating relevant industry capabilities,” says Prof. Tamir Tuller of the Fleischman Faculty of Engineering and the Edmond J. Safra Center for Bioinformatics. This is the approach that Tuller, head of TAU’s Computational Systems and Synthetic Biology Laboratory, takes with his start-up Imagindairy where he is co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer. The company uses his genetic engineering techniques to produce affordable dairy products from yeast. Imagindairy aims to generate milk that is identical in taste, aroma and texture to cow products, Tuller explains, but without the environmental damage or ethical dilemmas associated with animal husbandry.
Enhancing Cross-Industry Impact “The fastest way to make an impact on climate change is to apply academic knowledge toward 10
TAU REVIEW | 2 0 2 2
Cattle alone are responsible for approximately 65 percent of the livestock sector’s greenhouse gas emissions, mainly from methane that cows belch out while feeding. “This type of technology could one day replace the need for dairy cows,” he says. He adds that widespread adoption of lab-developed milk substitutes has the potential to significantly curb emissions. But how will Tuller’s team get the public on board? “Our models can eventually lead to products that are cheaper than traditional cow’s milk,” explains Tuller, underlining that economic incentive is key to impactful consumer behavior. He expects Imagindairy’s products to be commercially viable within a few
years. This quest was boosted with a recent $13 million investment, raised with support from Ramot – TAU’s technology transfer company.
Solid Foundations for Leadership Dozens of TAU alumni have taken leadership roles that address climate issues on the international stage. Two of them, Dr. Ido Sella and the late Dr. Shimrit Perkol-Finkel, who was
Tackling Environmental Challenges—in TLV and Monaco
It’s now the era for scientists and academia to help find solutions to the climate situation. tragically killed in an accident last year, met as students at TAU. In 2012, the pair founded sustainable concrete start-up, ECOncrete, which offers a more durable and ecological solution for coastal and marine construction than traditional concrete. The product simultaneously reduces carbon emissions and safeguards marine life. Today, the company is experiencing rapid growth, and its eco-friendly solutions are used in more than 40 sites around the world. Similarly, its technology was recently tapped to anchor US offshore wind turbines as part of the White House administration’s aims to increase energy capacity a thousand-fold by 2030. “The concrete industry has a massive environmental footprint Dr. Ido Sella responsible for 8% of global carbon dioxide emissions and vast marine damage,” says Sella.
As part of TAU’s practical work in mitigating the effects of air pollution and climate change, the Frenkel Initiative to Combat Pollution supports projects between TAU, Israeli companies and Monaco. Current initiatives include operating an accelerator for startups in clean energy, air purification and replacing plastic; introducing smart transportation solutions to Monaco officials for lowering carbon emissions; and researching problems such as urban heat stress and maritime transport emissions. Although the Initiative attempts to find technological solutions specifically for Monaco, TAU benefactor and Governor Aaron Frenkel hopes it can make an outsized contribution toward reducing environmental threats in the entire Mediterranean region and beyond. The Frenkel Initiative is affiliated with the environmental Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation.
He explains that the demand for sustainable concrete has reached new heights as society— particularly the approximately 50% of population centers on coastlines— braces for a rise in sea levels and increased storminess due to climate change.
“ECOncrete offers a new way to reduce the CO2 footprint of working waterfronts,” he says. Sella sees oceans of potential for bringing more applied science to commercial endeavors via academia, thus propelling climate progress. Prof. Colin Price, too, underlines the need for all industries and sectors to work with academia to prevent catastrophic climate outcomes. “We have big ambitions at TAU,” Price says. “We aim to have maximum impact and expand local models to regional and global scales.”
TAU Launches Mentorship Network for Women in Exact Sciences Program cultivates female solidarity in a predominantly male discipline By Sveta Raskin
hen Oren Barzilai, a first-year math student at TAU’s Raymond and Beverly Sackler Faculty of Exact Sciences, began her studies in October she felt unprepared, discontent and lonely. “Math is a demanding subject. You need to work very hard from day one,” Barzilai says. “And even if you love it, it’s very hard to survive without support.” Then, she heard about the Faculty’s ExactSHE Mentorship Program. “I knew I wanted to be a part of it right away; it was what I needed right then and there,” she says. TAU launched ExactSHE in the fall of 2021 in an attempt to redress the acute underrepresentation of women in exact sciences disciplines, especially at the graduate and post-graduate levels. The Program aims to create open dialogue between female faculty members and students, enable them to share knowledge and experiences, and support each other in overcoming obstacles as they advance in their studies and careers.
By the Numbers “Although 35% of our undergraduate students are women, 12
TAU REVIEW | 2 0 2 2
we lose many along the way. Only 25% academia and even jobs in the field, of our master’s students are female, she explains. and only 15% are in post-doctoral and “These are subjective feelings, and faculty positions,” says Prof. Tova Milo, this is really just a question of attitude,” TAU’s current and first female dean Milo says. “So we decided to build a of the Exact Sciences Faculty. “There network that would introduce women are specific reasons this is the case, to role models and provide them and when I became the Dean of the with tools for making positive change Faculty, I was finally in their academic in a position to journeys.” change this.” Work in Progress Milo enlisted “The Program research support When Barzilai opened a lot of from TAU’s Career attended the Program’s doors for me.” Development first monthly event—a Laboratory and small group mentorship together they meeting—she left formulated a survey that highlighted feeling reassured and supported. fears and difficulties exact sciences “That first meeting made me very students might experience. “The happy. We chatted away, shared results were predictable yet our difficulties, and suddenly the astounding, when I saw them within weight I felt since the beginning of my own faculty,” Milo says. Findings the semester lifted,” Barzilai explains. showed that while male students were The meeting also helped her connect more concerned with future career with classmates, creating a sense of opportunities and the progress of belonging and shared goals. “The their studies, women were burdened Program opened a lot of doors for me,” with emotional issues—feelings of she says. “Now I feel at home here.” inadequacy, lack of belonging and Gil Bar Koltun, a graduate student self-doubt—the “baggage” that in theoretical math, is the mentor of can eventually cause them to leave Barzilai’s group, which includes two
From left: Prof. Tova Milo with students Gil Bar Koltun, Yaara David, Oren Barziali and Gali Adin
“Math is a demanding subject... even if you love it, it’s very hard to survive without support.” more undergraduate math students. She is also a mentee in a group led by a senior faculty member and a doctoral candidate, also from the Raymond and Beverly Sackler School of Mathematics. “My career and academic goals are to study for a PhD and post-doc, but I foresee a lot of obstacles in my way, especially once I start a family. That’s the reason I also earned a teaching certificate—as a safety net to fall back on,” explains Koltun, who is doing her thesis in game theory. Koltun anticipates that being a scientist and a mother will be difficult and will count on her mentors’ support when she has children. Bar Koltun and Barzilai agree that ExactShe debunks the myth of a “Wonder Woman”— one who seems to have it all, and replaces it with real role models who struggle to overcome challenges but ultimately find solutions that lead to success.
All of the mentors receive a stipend. “If the goal is for our students to feel valuable, then we must show them that we value their time,” explains Milo. At the intimate monthly meetings, which constitute the Program's backbone, mentors implement customized plans created in collaboration with TAU’s Career Lab. The Program was funded with the help of TAU Governor Irith Rappaport through the Rappaport Family Foundation, which is supporting it for
the next ten years, as well as by other private donors. The partnership was facilitated by Dafna Meitar-Nechmad, the first female Chairperson of TAU’s Board of Governors. “We see this as an excellent model for creating a strong, supportive community of female researchers,” says TAU Dean of Students Prof. Drorit Neumann, “and we are implementing similar programs at the medical faculty as well as in other units on campus.”
The Path to Better Science The Program has 200 participants from all of the Faculty’s schools: mathematics, computer science, physics & astronomy, chemistry, and environmental & earth sciences.
ExactSHE launch, from left: TAU President Ariel Porat, Board of Governors Chair Dafna MeitarNechmad, Prof. Tova Milo, Irith Rappaport, and Boris Krasny, Rappaport Family Foundation. 13
Conquering the Wall of Fear For Periphery Scholar Yakir Mazuz, studying at TAU is a dream come true By Melanie Takefman
AU student Yakir Mazuz had a decisive experience while working at a hotel as a teenager. “I was exposed to the harsh reality of Israel’s periphery there,” says Mazuz, who hails from Tzfat in Israel’s North. “I met people from the margins of society, who worked hard to earn minimum wage. Their employers exploited them. Many didn’t know how to read their pay slips, never mind know their rights.” He decided then that if he could “break the glass ceiling” and attend a top university, he would study law to help these people. Today, Mazuz is a third-year student at TAU’s Buchmann Faculty of Law and a participant in TAU’s Periphery Program. Aimed at outstanding students like him, the Program boosts accessibility to higher education among Israelis from disadvantaged backgrounds and outlying communities. He explains that without the Program, he wouldn’t have been able to make the transition to pursue academic studies in Israel’s central region. Growing up in an Orthodox community, “I was always different as a child,” he says. “I never fully subscribed to religious norms and the path that 14
TAU REVIEW | 2 0 2 2
TAU’s Periphery Program recruits I was expected to follow: to combine army service with yeshiva study, marry students based on their achievements relative to their classmates, rather than young and attend a local college. on standardized admissions tests that I invested in my studies because pitch them against privileged peers I knew that they would help me from the country’s wealthier central move forward.” During high school, TAU tapped him region. It provides financial, academic, emotional and social support for the Periphery Program. Following graduation, Mazuz completed his army alongside career and employment guidance. In return, students perform service and then enrolled at TAU. community service. “At the beginning, it was very, very The Program recently received scary,” he says. “Everyone you know is an infusion of support from the in the North. You’re on your own.” Charles Evelyne and Sandra Dolansky “It’s like there’s a wall that separates Periphery Israel’s North Scholarship from Tel Fund and a fund Aviv,” says The Scholarship gave me an Mazuz. “Many established opportunity to thrive. by TAU Global promising Campaign young people Cabinet from the members Dr. Kathy Fields and Dr. Garry periphery have potential to succeed but they can’t breach that wall without Rayant in honor of Campaign Chair Dr. Anita Friedman. help.” As he begins his last year at TAU, Mazuz says he is grateful to TAU and President Prof. Ariel Porat, who founded Mazuz says he’d like to accrue work experience in public law before the Program when he was Dean of returning to academia for graduate Law in the early 2000s. “The Program studies. “I want to put into practice gave me an opportunity to thrive, what I’ve been planning for so long: and I jumped at the chance to fulfill to give back and effect positive my dream of studying at the best law social change.” faculty at the country’s best university.”
TAU epitomizes Judaism’s and Israel’s highest values—education and democracy.
Redefining Success in Education Change-makers Dr. Kathy Fields and Dr. Garry Rayant spoke with TAU Review about their Jewish values and passion for education and Israel By Julie Steigerwald-Levi
r. Kathy Fields and Dr. Garry Rayant, entrepreneurs, philanthropists and TAU Governors from the San Francisco Bay Area, were instrumental in launching the University’s Center for Combating Pandemics and are core supporters of Minducate, a Learning Innovation Research Center at the Sagol School of Neuroscience. Both are TAU Global Campaign Cabinet members and recently established the Fields-Rayant Scholarship Fund in honor of Campaign Chair Dr. Anita Friedman. The fund provides scholarships to students from Israel’s periphery.
What drives your philanthropy? Garry: Hillel said it best, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?” And as Kathy likes to say, we’re on the now plan. Health
and education are among the central tenets of who we are, from which our philanthropy follows. Kathy: It feels tremendous to make a difference, to matter, particularly at a time where many feel they are losing agency. Garry and I try to be part of the force actively involved in finding solutions to problems facing the Jewish people and the world.
What role do Judaism and Israel play in your lives?
Garry: I grew up in London, the son of a refugee from the Holocaust. My father evaded arrest by the Gestapo in Vienna and fled to England where he joined the British army. The other part of his family escaped to Palestine—now Israel. Because of that, I have a large family in Israel and have been visiting for years. It’s home.
I can’t overstate the impact of that background and the good fortune I have to live the dream that past generations did not. My parents never forgot who they were, their history and the fact that their values and morality came from their Jewish heritage. Kathy and I were married at midnight in the Billy Rose Sculpture Garden atop the Israel Museum, the last event of the UJA Young Leadership Cabinet retreat that year. Not a dry eye in the house, me included! Israel is a central part of being Jewish for us. Thank G-d we have a land of our own; it’s central to our security. Kathy: I grew up in a small Jewish community in Waukegan, Illinois. When we were singled out as Jews at school, my parents decided we’d better own our identity. My siblings and I were the first bnei mitzvah in our 15
Conservative shul. I became cognizant of issues facing Israel with my first AIPAC meeting at age 26. I gave them my entire monthly paycheck that day! I learned I had a voice and could make a difference. When Garry and I met, we found that our mutual interests and backgrounds propelled us to do more.
How does your support for TAU fit into your philanthropic vision?
Garry: Our feeling is that TAU epitomizes Judaism’s and Israel’s highest values—education and democracy. And the University has something for everyone, young and not so young—like us. When we first got involved, it was through a fundraiser for the dental school. As we progressed, we were introduced to the “Minducate” program. It was a perfect fit, aligning with our goal of improving education through practical applications. Furthermore, we like the democratic aspect of TAU. Of the 30,000 students, a significant proportion are from minority populations—Arab-Israeli, Palestinian, Druze, Ethiopian, and international students—who have vast potential to benefit their communities and society. If ever there is to be peace, it will come through education.
Was there a defining moment that inspired your passion for educational reform? Garry: We have two wonderful, bright sons with very different learning profiles; neither of their needs were being met educationally [at school]. They were loaded with so much homework, were not sleeping enough, and experienced stress about getting [good] grades. I have a master’s degree in behavioral science and was floored by how much of the teaching wasn’t based on scientific methods for effective learning or optimal growth, both physical and emotional. We found the problems were endemic, particularly in high school, due to the singular focus on academic achievement and college prep. So, we started lobbying to change the system from K-12 through college. We began with Challenge Success, a Stanford University-based non-profit that provides families and schools with the practical, research-based tools they need to create more balanced and academically fulfilling lives. Our involvement in education has grown to include political advocacy and lobbying, in our state and nationally, for healthy research-based change.
Where do you want higher education to go from here? Kathy: We got involved at the college level to address mental health. Too many students on college campuses today suffer from anxiety, depression, and drug and alcohol use—and tragically this too often ends in suicide. For us, the ultimate marker of success in global education is healthy, creative, curious, collaborative adults who are prepared for real-world tasks and to make the world a better place. We’re putting our efforts into universities in the US and Israel to address these important issues.
What advice do you have for emerging innovators?
Kathy: Find the problem you want to fix and maintain the clarity and conviction to stay strong in your purpose. Money cannot be the primary motivator. Create a team through your trusted leadership and vision. Always do the right thing when faced with choices. Inventors may not succeed because they don’t practice these founding pillars. Judaism has taught me resilience to overcome adversity along with responsibility and the joy of collaboration. Garry: I always find myself going back to our tradition: “If you see what needs to be repaired and how to repair it, then you have found a piece of the world that G-d has left for you to complete.” - Lubavitcher Rebbe To which we would add one thing— stay curious; there is so much in this wonderful world to learn. Dr. Kathy Fields is a Stanford-trained dermatologist and the co-founder of the popular skincare lines Proactiv Solution and Rodan & Fields. Dr. Garry Rayant is a University of Pennsylvania-trained periodontist and co-founder of Dear Doctor Magazine Inc. and the newly created Center for Integrative Global Oral Health at UPenn.
A Minducate project is presented to TAU President Prof. Ariel Porat. 16
TAU REVIEW | 2 0 2 2
TLV PERSPEC TIVES
Kantor Center’s Chair Adv. Arie Zuckerman (left) and Head Prof. Uriya Shavit (right), with President Isaac Herzog.
TAU Releases Report on Positive Trends in the War on Antisemitism By Sveta Raskin
mid growing concern among offers policy recommendations for Jewish communities and national enhancing these measures’ impact, governments about the rise of thus creating new models for global antisemitism in the world, TAU’s Kantor dialogue and positive change. Center for the Study of Contemporary TAU Prof. Uriya Shavit, head of the European Jewry has launched a novel Kantor Center, presented the report to publication Israel‘s President highlighting Isaac Herzog on positive global International Strengthening the light changes. Holocaust is just as important as Entitled “For Remembrance a Righteous Day (January fighting the darkness. Cause: Positive 27) at his official Trends in Fighting residence in Antisemitism Jerusalem. and Radicalization,” the report “As antisemitism rises across the showcases the year’s most important world, the international fight against it developments in the battle against is also intensifying. We are witnessing antisemitism: overtures toward Jewry many global initiatives for combating in Eastern Europe and the Arab World, antisemitism, and we must encourage along with legal and civic measures and foster these positive trends,” said taken by governments, NGOs and President Herzog, a TAU alumnus, at even sports teams. The report also the ceremony. “Strengthening the
light is just as important as fighting the darkness. I thank the Kantor Center for its dedicated research and faithful work in monitoring antisemitism worldwide.”
Shifting the Discourse For over a decade, the Kantor Center team at TAU has published a wellknown annual report on antisemitic incidents in the world. This is the first year the Center has published a report on positive trends; it will now become a yearly publication. “Discourse on antisemitism and radicalization usually focuses on troubling trends. We decided that a positive report about encouraging developments and activities should also be published,” says Shavit of the Entin Faculty of Humanities. He underlines three main reasons for the publication: expressing appreciation 17
TLV PERSPEC TIVES
Ahmed Obeid Al Mansoori, founder of the Crossroads of Civilizations Museum in Dubai, at the Museum’s groundbreaking Holocaust exhibit
for those leading the trends; impelling more governments and organizations worldwide to follow suit; and promoting dialogue about improving existing programs.
Models for Change The report presents several surprising and promising paradigm shifts around the world and across public discourse arenas. In Eastern Europe, specifically in Poland, Ukraine and Slovakia, a growing number of non-Jewish grassroots initiatives are working
to restore Jewish cemeteries and preserve the memory of the multiethnic society that existed in the region before the Second World War. In the Arab world, the UAE and Bahrain are leading the way in making Jewish life, culture and history more visible in society. The first Holocaust exhibit in the region opened recently at the Crossroads of Civilizations Museum in Dubai, while synagogues and Jewish cultural centers are being restored and opened to the public. Several national courts in Europe and North America set a series of
A Jewish cemetery in Kalush, Ukraine. Organizations such as Rohatyn Jewish Heritage are working to conserve sites like this throughout Eastern Europe.
TAU REVIEW | 2 0 2 2
encouraging precedents in fighting antisemitism in 2021, restraining the sofar almost unrestricted dissemination of misinformation. One important example was the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights against a Bulgarian member of parliament who had continuously used antisemitic rhetoric in his books. In major sports organizations, popular international teams have stepped forward to combat antisemitism among fans and players alike. Encouraging actions are being conducted at all levels—from the EU and national associations through the teams, all the way to the fans themselves. European soccer teams made a particularly strong effort, with top-league British, Austrian, German and Dutch clubs launching educational initiatives among players and the public to encourage zerotolerance for antisemitic slurs. Governments and NGOs in many countries also launched action plans to promote education and improve legal enforcement. The Kantor Center report and its promising findings are being presented to leading policymakers and activists around the world. The full report can be found on the Kantor Center website: https://kantorcenter.tau.ac.il/
TAU Campus Comes Back to Life T
he 2021-2022 academic year started off with a flurry of activity and excitement as our students returned to campus for a full in-person semester for the first time since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Needless to say, students, faculty and staff alike enjoyed the restoration of frenetic energy levels to the TAU campus. Though the winter Omicron wave brought new challenges and restrictions, the 2022 spring semester commenced with full frontal learning. Here’s wishing the entire TAU community a healthy and fruitful semester.
After a long absence, students filled our libraries, classrooms, labs and outdoor spaces. Top: A splint competition among Dr. Yafi Levanon’s students, Department of Occupational Therapy, Steyer School of Health Professions. 19
TLV PERSPEC TIVES
he lessons you learn as a professional athlete translate into skills that can transform the rest of your life, including in a career outside of sports,” says Andrea “Andi” Murez, a TAU medical student and two-time Olympian. Murez and fellow Israeli recordholding swimmer Shahar Resman received this year’s inaugural Sylvan Adams Olympic scholarships presented by the Sylvan Adams Sports Institute at TAU. The Sylvan Adams Olympic Scholarship Fund, the first fund of its kind at TAU, enables elite Israeli athletes to cultivate both their sporting and academic aspirations at the University’s world-class facilities. Designed to promote academic and professional prospects for “the day after sports careers,” the Fund is open to candidates recommended by Israel’s Olympic and Paralympic Committees. Canadian-Israeli philanthropist and Vice-Chair of TAU’s Board of Governors Sylvan Adams contributed the generous donation that established both the Fund and Institute in his name. “With limited high school team sports or university-level opportunities for young athletes in Israel, I want to bolster the potential of these highachieving individuals who are also geared toward greatness beyond the sports arena,” explains Adams, who is also a TAU Honorary Doctor, Global Campaign Cabinet member and second-generation benefactor.
Realizing Herculean Feats “The Adams Institute has provided me with invaluable support, both on my Olympic journey and now for my medical career,” says Murez. Already a decorated swimmer in the US, the Stanford University graduate made aliyah in 2014. She credits her formative experience at Israel’s Maccabiah Games—where she was a 17-time medalist—for her decision to move to Israel. She quickly landed a spot on the country’s National Swim 20
TAU REVIEW | 2 0 2 2
I want other athletes to know that it’s possible to realize both their sporting and academic dreams in Israel.
Campus of Champions New Sylvan Adams Olympic Scholarship Fund helps student athletes thrive—in the classroom and beyond By Julie Steigerwald-Levi
Shahar Resman and Andi Murez
Team and now reigns as Israel’s recordholder in 100-meter and 200-meter freestyle. “I want other athletes, particularly olim [immigrants] and women, to know that it’s possible to realize both their sporting and academic dreams in Israel,” Murez emphasizes. The California native represented Israel at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 and in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Her training for Tokyo included performance analysis and strengthening at the Adams Institute’s state-of-the-art flume (counter current) pool and at the TAU Sport Center’s Olympic-sized facilities. Upon her return from Tokyo, Murez started her third year at TAU’s Sackler School of Medicine New York State/ American Program. Although she is focusing now on completing her studies, Murez is eyeing future Olympics—as a 2024 contender in Paris and as a physician at the 2028 games in her hometown of Los Angeles.
“Right now, I am interested in pediatrics, but am keeping my options open,” she says during a break from clinical rotations at TAU-affiliated hospitals. Murez adds that she hopes to return to Olympic training after her graduation in 2023. “Most people tell me I’m crazy to be a professional swimmer and medical student, but I couldn’t give either up,” she says. “I’m proud that I’ve given it a shot and prevailed at both.”
Gold Medal Mindset Three-time World Aquatics Championships contender Shahar Resman holds similar convictions on the parallels between elite sports and high-level professional quests. “If you wake up every morning to make a positive impact in something you believe in, nothing can stop you,” enthuses Resman, a budding entrepreneur and first-year student at the Kellogg-Recanati International
Executive MBA Program at TAU’s Coller School of Management. At the culmination of his 12-year open-swim career with Team Israel, Resman qualified for Israel’s Olympic delegation to Tokyo. However, with the onset of COVID-19, he retired from the sport, trading in his Olympic dreams for other designs: the business world. In 2021, he and three partners launched Viewport Studios, a start-up that aims to become “the Netflix of virtual reality (VR)” for global education. “The mindset needed to reach Olympic levels requires constantly giving your best,” says Resman, who is also the company’s Chief Marketing Officer. “I plan to take the same approach with my MBA and apply what I learn to hopefully make my start-up succeed.” Resman discovered his passion for business during his undergraduate studies in economics at the University of Tennessee, where he competed on the swim team. “When I returned to Israel, I was hungry to continue learning,” he recalls. While still training for the Olympics, he took a job in the Tel Aviv high-tech scene at mobile gaming company Playtika and decided to pursue an MBA. Although Resman was accepted to all of the MBA programs he applied to, he had his sights set on TAU “because of its network of top innovators and reputation as the best in Israel. “I’m extremely honored to receive the Adams Olympic Scholarship and stand alongside Andi,” he says. “She’s an amazing role model for all you can achieve as an athlete, student and person.” Like Murez, Resman says he is proud to pursue this stage of his journey at TAU and hopes to see more of Israel’s top athletes join them on campus. “Andi and Shahar embody the spirit of championship from the pool to the classroom,” says Adams. “I am proud to team up with TAU as we continue to close the gap ‘from the playing field to the lab.’” 21
TLV PERSPEC TIVES
he guardian of time and order on TAU’s dynamic campus, the TAU Archive in 2021 marked 50 years since its creation. Buried deep in the heart of the Sourasky Central Library, the Archive stores countless historical treasures that tell the story of the University. These include a stirring narrative by former TAU Rector Prof. Dan Amir documenting Israel’s involvement in the struggle to free Soviet Jewry in the 1970s, a movement in which he and TAU played an active role; historical photographs from the University’s early years in Abu Kabir village in south Tel Aviv (1953-1965); the ground laying of the current Ramat Aviv campus in 1964; the personal archive of the University’s first President, Dr. George S. Wise (1960s-1980s), which captures the early years of TAU’s journey; and the hand-written musical notes of composer and principal violist of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Oedoen Partos, who directed the Music Academy until the late 1970s. “The history of TAU is an integral part of the history of Tel Aviv and Israel as a whole. Documenting and preserving this history for future generations is a vital mission that the University Archive has carried out with impeccable professionalism and drive for the last 50 years,” said TAU President Prof. Ariel Porat. Moshe Shilo, a former director of the IDF archives, created the University Archive in 1970. Today, the safe-keeper of the Archive is its longtime director Gedalya Zhagov, himself an alumnus of TAU in History, who celebrated his 40th work anniversary at the University in 2021. 22
TAU REVIEW | 2 0 2 2
TAU Governors and friends, including Sir Jack and Lady Sara Cohen, meet former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir on campus in 1972.
Connecting Past and Present
University Archive celebrates 50th anniversary By Sveta Raskin
“The Archive is essential for the research of the University’s history and history in general,” Zhagov says. “It showcases the pride we take in our legacy. It also connects us to the academics and other key figures of the past who are at the heart of our institution.” The Archive has undergone many changes in its lifetime. The most recent one was record digitalization, which helps solve the ever-present need for physical space and makes the records more accessible to the general public. Opening of the 1965-1966 academic year at the “new” Ramat Aviv campus
Students cool off on campus in the 1970s.
Groundbreaking of the Miriam and Adolfo Smolarz Auditorium, May 1998. From left: Polly Deutsch, President of Argentinean Friends of TAU, Miriam Smolarz and Adolfo Smolarz (right)
Mr. & Mrs. Elias Sourasky (center) at the opening of the Elias Sourasky Central Library, 1968
Student Day, May 1995 23
Lauding “The Len Effect” Len Blavatnik’s contributions to TAU are transforming the campus and Israel
nown at TAU as “The Len Effect,” the University’s partnership with British-American industrialist and philanthropist Sir Leonard “Len” Blavatnik has bolstered the University’s success as an innovation leader for nearly a decade. A TAU Honorary Doctor and Governor, he is the Founder and Chairman of multinational industrial group Access Industries. Blavatnik’s legacy of giving at TAU began with backing for scholarships and the Blavatnik School of Computer Science. From there, his foundation pledged sizeable gifts to establish the multi-year Blavatnik Initiative which supports the BLAVATNIK CENTER for Drug Discovery; the Blavatnik Interdisciplinary Cyber Research Center; the Blavatnik Computer Science Research Fund; the Blavatnik Student Film Production Fund; and the Blavatnik President’s Faculty Recruitment Discretionary Fund. “Len’s philanthropy illuminates the power of giving,” says TAU President Prof. Ariel Porat. “His passion for supporting excellence in science and education continues to have a transformative effect and will drive pioneering advancement for years to come. The Blavatnik 24
TAU REVIEW | 2 0 2 2
Initiative has boosted its dedicated fields as well as others such as AI and the battle against COVID-19.” The Blavatnik Foundation backs leading educational, scientific, cultural and charitable institutions throughout the world and established the Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists in 2007 with the New York Academy of Sciences. In 2017, the Awards expanded to Israel, with two TAU scientists, Prof. Oded Rechavi and Prof. Yossi Yovel, receiving it so far.
The Len Effect in Numbers* • 38 drug discovery research collaborations • 37,500 Cyber Week participants • 390 computer science publications • €26 million in EU grants in computer science alone • 663 film scholarships • 208 film festival entries and 79 film awards • 19 young faculty recruits • $43 million in grants by recruited faculty *As of 2021
New Sagol Program to Spur Regenerative Medicine Revolution T
AU’s new Sagol Program for Regenerative Medicine will accelerate research and training at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine in this cutting-edge field. Honorary Doctor and Vice Chair of the Board of Governors Sami Sagol established the game-changing program designed to incorporate regenerative medicine into mainstream medical practice. Although most medical strategies focus on treating symptoms, regenerative medicine aims to develop therapies that can regrow, repair and heal tissues and organs damaged by age, disease or trauma. Based on the manipulation of stem cells or their derivatives, these treatments could decrease reliance on organ transplants. Despite their great promise, the number of regenerative medicine applications approved for medical use is low
because the process of transforming research findings into practical treatments is lengthy and complex. Sagol and TAU hope to change this reality. Through the Program, students will be able to follow an MD-PhD track focused on regenerative medicine with the support of dedicated fellowships. In parallel, the Program will provide research grants and cutting-edge equipment to facilitate discoveries. It will also secure the recruitment of Prof. Benjamin Dekel, a physician and scientist from the Sheba Medical Center and a leading expert in the field, to head the initiative. Within a decade, Program heads aim to move several new regenerative medicine therapies toward clinical trials.
Smolarz Family Building a Bridge to the Future
ecently opened and already a buzzing hub of activity, TAU’s new Smolarz Family Building (pictured) has dramatically improved the University’s ability to train young scientists and professionals at the Wise Faculty of Life Sciences. The Building houses four state-of-the-art teaching labs in microbiology, biochemistry, genetics, cell biology and other subjects, together with seminar rooms
and attractive student lounges. The Building embodies the vision of its benefactors Adolfo and Miriam Smolarz, TAU Honorary Doctors and longtime Governors, together with their daughter, Aida. Adolfo, who served as Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors, sadly passed away in November 2021.
INVESTING IN SMART ENERGY Each year, TAU International invests in programs and activities that bring together thousands of students from all over the world – creating smart energy and enriching our global community.
STUDY ABROAD | SHORT-TERM | UNDERGRADUATE | GRADUATE | PHD international.tau.ac.il
TAU Alumna Brings Authentic Voice to Politics and Beyond
s a TAU student, Pnina Tameno Shete knew she had made it when a senior government official gave a guest lecture about a campaign she led on behalf of Israel’s Ethiopian community. He cited it as an example of how to effectively realize social change. Tameno Shete, who earned a master’s degree in public policy from TAU in 2018, is Israel’s first EthiopianBy Melanie Takefman born minister, heading the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration since 2020. Her appointment as minister and second-in-command to Blue and White Party Chairman and Defense Minister Benny Gantz (another TAU alumnus) is the most recent in a long line of breakthrough achievements for Tameno Shete, who arrived in Israel at the age of 3. Like thousands of her Jewish compatriots, Tameno Shete trekked through the desert with her family from her native Ethiopia to Sudan, and from there was airlifted to Israel in 1984. During the journey, people “fell like flies,” she says. “There was no burial there. It took decades for us to start talking about it.” In total, nearly 4,000 Ethiopian Jews died on their way to Israel. “People spoke about the Hercules airplanes that landed and rescued us. There was a heroic secret mission, but … the real heroes are the Ethiopian Tameno Shete at her graduation ceremony from TAU in 2018, with her children and current Jews who completed that harrowing Dean of Social Sciences Prof. Itai Sened journey.” Upon arrival, Tameno Shete fell in love with Israel and the Hebrew As a teenager, she led a protest from a very strong family in terms of language immediately. “I was more against Israel’s rejection of blood values, but my parents didn’t know Israeli than the Israelis,” she says. donations from citizens of Ethiopian anything about the law or rights.” She At the same pursued a bachelor’s degree in law time, she felt because she saw the courts as a hub of different, whether power through which she could effect I understood that if we didn't appear it was when a change. on TV screens, if Israelis didn’t hear us neighborhood No one wanted to hear about their boy threw a rock struggle to realize their rights and fight and see us, nothing would change. at her and used discrimination, she says. a racist slur, or “People said we had integration when the school difficulties. And I said, ‘These are not counselor didn’t believe that she integration difficulties. I made aliyah descent. She felt an instinctive urge and her sisters could have such high to fight for her place—and that of her at age 3. This is about the color of our grades as new immigrants. community—in Israeli society. “I come skin, about stereotypes and prejudices,
Pnina Tameno Shete, Israel’s first Ethiopian minister, wields global influence in key government position
ALUMNI Pnina Tameno Shete (center) with Kesim, spiritual leaders of Israel’s Ethiopian community
about racism.’ I wanted to live at peace in the society which I loved, as an equal.” She went on to become a reporter for Israel’s public TV channel. “I understood that if we didn’t appear on TV screens, if Israelis didn’t hear us and see us, nothing would change,” she says. Yet, she soon realized that the best way to influence society was through politics and, in 2013, she was elected to the Knesset.
Education=Empowerment Tameno Shete believes in higher education as a tool to empower Israel’s Ethiopian community and other marginalized groups. As such, she enthusiastically endorses a new campaign by TAU and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in collaboration with Canada's Morris and Rosalind Goodman Family Foundation to provide scholarships and support services to hundreds of Israeli students of Ethiopian descent. Moreover, Tameno Shete insists that integration toward equality must continue in the workforce and society at large. She says that Israelis of Ethiopian descent earn 40% less than the average Israeli—an unacceptable 28
TAU REVIEW | 2 0 2 2
situation—and that they are still disproportionately represented among Jewish Israelis with criminal records. Subsequently, Tameno Shete enrolled in TAU’s School of Public Policy, Gordon Faculty of Social Sciences, while on break from the Knesset. She describes her time at TAU as “amazing” because of exceptional professors and the comprehensive understanding it gave her of public policy. When she was appointed to head the Aliyah and Integration Ministry, TAU Prof. Itai Sened, now Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, called to congratulate her and offer support and guidance. Similarly, she occasionally calls her TAU professors for consultation on various issues. Among her priorities as Minister is the completion of a large-scale operation to bring thousands of firstdegree relatives of Israelis on aliyah
from Ethiopia, most of whom have been separated from their families for decades. Two thousand have already arrived, and Tameno Shete is working intensively to ensure those remaining in Ethiopia soon follow. As this publication went to print, the Ministry was leading national efforts to absorb Ukrainian immigrants fleeing the war in their country. Tameno Shete is one of 90,000 members of the TAU Alumni Organization, headed by Sigalit Ben Hayoun, which leverages the influence of TAU alumni for good and serves its members through shared knowledge, networking and opportunities. Having broken several “glass ceilings,” Tameno Shete sees herself not only as a representative of the Ethiopian community but of other groups as well. “One of the most important milestones in my life was when I swore allegiance to Israel as a Member of Knesset and Deputy Knesset Speaker at age 31. I remember thinking how important that moment was…not just for Israelis of Ethiopian descent, but for many children who started out from a very low point.”
Alumni Advisory Committee: Spotlight
TAU Law Alumni Make Waves in the IDF
Udy Danino, founder and CEO of SAIPS, an international algorithmic solutions provider, is among leading alumni who devote their time and resources to TAU’s Alumni Advisory Community. Danino is a graduate of the Blavatnik School of Computer Science and Fleischman Faculty of Engineering. In 2016, under Danino’s leadership, SAIPS was acquired by the Ford Motor Company, and it now plays a central role in the development of Ford’s autonomous vehicles.
Shaping Israeli Public Health Prof. Ran Balicer, a graduate of the Sackler Faculty of Medicine, is a leading expert and spokesperson for innovation in health and Israel’s response to COVID-19. Balicer serves as Chief Innovation Officer at Clalit Health Services, Israel’s largest health fund; Chairman of Israel’s COVID-19 Expert Advisory Team; and Chairman of the Israeli Society for Quality in Medicine.
Balicer recently spoke to 1,000 TAU alumni about predictive medicine in a webinar hosted by the TAU Alumni Organization. From his talk: “We live in an exciting era, thanks to technology and artificial intelligence. Instead of trying to repair the damage caused by diseases at a late stage, we now intervene early, even in the pre-disease stage, where the likelihood of a full cure is high and the damage from treatment is minimal. Israel is at the forefront of this global revolution.”
From Retail Digitization to Cancer Eradication
Joel Bar-El is the co-founder and CEO of Trax, a global leader in retail digitization, with projects in 90 countries and close to 1,000 employees in 20 offices worldwide. Bar-El is also an active investor and recently joined forces with Ramot, TAU’s technology transfer company, to establish JaxBio, an initiative aiming to eradicate cancer through early diagnostics. He is an alumnus of the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Faculty of Exact Sciences.
In November 2021, Israel’s Defense Ministry announced that Brig.-Gen. Orly Markman, alumna of the Buchmann Faculty of Law, would serve as the next president of the Israel Defense Forces’ (IDF) Court of Appeals. The position is the military equivalent of President of the Supreme Court. With this appointment, Markman will be promoted to Major-General, making her the third woman to receive the rank in IDF history. As a result, two female generals will now serve in the IDF’s General Staff for the first time. The second is Military Advocate General Yifat Tomer-Yerushalmi, another TAU law alumna. Defense Minister Benny Gantz, a graduate of TAU’s Entin Faculty of Humanities, heads the IDF’s Judge Selection Committee. Other TAU law alumni on the Committee include Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar, also an alumnus of the Gordon Faculty of Social Sciences; Esther Hayut, Chief Justice of Israel’s Supreme Court; and her Deputy, Justice Neal Hendel.
Another Glass Ceiling Shattered Former Member of Knesset Ayelet NahmiasVerbin, a TAU law alumna, was recently appointed chairperson of the Israel Export Institute. She is the first woman to hold this role. 29
NEWS IN BRIEF
The Med League: TAU Spearheads Elite Global Partnerships and Programs
el Aviv’s standing as the capital of big ideas was bolstered with the launch of international programs and collaborations with leading institutions. The new initiatives are attracting top students and researchers and are strengthening TAU’s reputation as the epicenter of a Middle Eastern Ivy League.
Strengthening Ties with Rutgers TAU and Rutgers University inked a deal to enhance the partnership between the two universities and establish a TAU presence at the New Jersey Innovation & Technology Hub. The agreement will establish a joint research grant program that provides seed funding for up to five collaborative research projects, each with two principal investigators—one from Rutgers and one from TAU. “Our growing partnership will not only benefit our students and faculty, but also our local economies and the people in our communities,” said Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy joined the ceremony virtually.
Presidents Porat (left) and Holloway at TAU 30
TAU REVIEW | 2 0 2 2
TAUi staffer Nofar Califa (center) is flanked by two TAU students from Germany.
Shared Master’s Degree with Johns Hopkins
First Online MBA at an Israeli University
TAU’s Gordon Faculty of Social Sciences and the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) have partnered to launch a cooperative degree. The two-year program will enable students to earn a Master of Arts in International Affairs at SAIS Europe, the school’s campus in Bologna, Italy, and an MA at Tel Aviv University International in one of several degree programs. Students will spend one year on each campus. The program will kick off in the 2022-23 academic year.
TAU announced that it will launch a fully online MBA program at the Coller School of Management in spring 2022, marking the first time an Israeli university will offer this prestigious, indemand format. The Online MBA degree will be taught in English and will give outstanding students from around the globe the opportunity to learn from TAU’s renowned innovation ecosystem. TAU ranks 5th in the world for producing entrepreneurs, and its MBA program ranks 13th globally.
Interfaith Studies Center with Goethe University In line with growing academic partnerships with Germany, TAU and Goethe University in Frankfurt established a Joint Center for Interfaith Studies. The new Center will promote research on religion, in particular the monotheistic faiths—a field in which both institutions specialize. The two universities will conduct joint research, hold academic conferences, and train students and researchers in the field.
On the Global Edge: Neuroscience, Management and Liberal Arts TAU International introduced two new degree programs in the past year: the new master’s degree in neuroscience at the Sagol School of Neuroscience and a joint bachelor’s degree in management and liberal arts.
Nana Oforiatta Ayim
Past Forward: 2022 Dan David Prize Winners Announced T
he Dan David Prize announced on March 1 the first cohort of winners since its relaunch as the world’s largest history prize. Out of hundreds of early and midcareer nominees from around the world, nine winners were selected to receive $300,000 each to further their study of the human past.
Among this year’s winners are:
• Nana Oforiatta Ayim (Ghana), a
curator, writer and public historian whose work reinstates African narratives, institutions and cultural expressions into the telling of the past Bart Elmore (U.S.), an environmental historian who studies the global environmental impact of big
businesses such as Coca-Cola and Monsanto Natalia Romik (Poland/France), a public historian, designer and architect whose work uncovers and preserves Jewish sites and memory in Eastern Europe
Endowed by the Dan David Foundation and headquartered at TAU, the Prize was reimagined in 2021 to focus on historians, archaeologists and all those who study the past. “We live in a world in which the humanities, and particularly history, are devalued and attract less investment, even as it remains clear that only by deepening our knowledge of the past we can gain a better understanding of the present,” said Ariel David, Prize board member and son of the founder, the late Dan David, a longstanding benefactor of TAU. “For this reason, we have chosen to focus exclusively on historical disciplines and support emerging scholars and practitioners when the Prize can make a bigger impact.” The winners will be honored at a festive ceremony in Tel Aviv scheduled to take place during TAU’s Board of Governors meeting in May 2022. More details at dandavidprize.org.
Promoting a Long and Healthy Life TAU launched the multidisciplinary Healthy Longevity Research Center under the leadership of Prof. Karen Avraham, Vice Dean of the Sackler Faculty of Medicine. This new hub will address age-related conditions and issues, such as Alzheimer’s and hearing loss; psychology of the elderly; employment; economic policy; Holocaust survivor rights; and more. To further promote this broad field, TAU hosted a hybrid healthy aging conference in late 2021 as part of the Britain-Israel Research and Academic Exchange (BIRAX) forum, which includes TAU, the British Council in Israel and the UK Embassy. At the event, the partners announced a new £1.6 million grant program for funding collaborations between Israeli and British researchers in the field. Pictured, from left: TAU Governor and benefactor Sami Sagol, British Ambassador to Israel Neil Wigan and Prof. Karen Avraham at the conference. 31
TAU REVIEW | 2 0 2 2
TAU REVIEW | 2 0 2 2
Issued by the Strategic Communications Dept. Development and Public Affairs Division Tel Aviv University Ramat Aviv 6997801 Tel Aviv, Israel Tel: +972-73-380-4251 E-mail: email@example.com http://taureview.tau.ac.il Editor-in-Chief: Melanie Takefman Contributors: Julie Steigerwald-Levi, Sveta Raskin, Rava Eleasari, Ruti Ziv, Idit Nirel Photo Editors: Moshe Bedarshi and Rafael Ben-Menashe Webmaster & Editorial Assistant: David Jozsef Graphic Design: Michal Semo Kovretz Contributing Photographers: Yoram Reshef, Moshe Bedarshi, Rafael Ben-Menashe, Yael Tzur, Shachar Shachar, Michal Ben-Ami, Sivan Farag, Ran Biran, Simon Jamison, Yonatan Birenbaum, Ilya Melinkov, Shahar Hilla, Ronit and Uri Photographers, Asi Efrati, Crossroads of Civilizations Museum, Omer Har-Shai, Liron Bonano Stern, Yoav Picherski, Rohatyn Jewish Heritage, Shiraz Pashinsky Printing: Alumgraph
Tel Aviv University Lay Leadership Worldwide
Aaron Solomon, President
Patrick Loeb-Meyer, President
Indian Friends of Tel Aviv University
Swiss Friends of Tel Aviv University
Amnon Dick, Chairman
David Meller CBE, Chairman
Israeli Friends of Tel Aviv University
Tel Aviv University Trust
Dr. Alexander Machkevitch, President ARGENTINA
Polly Mizrahi de Deutsch, President
Kazakhstani Friends of Tel Aviv University
Argentinean Friends of Tel Aviv University
Mexican Friends of Tel Aviv University
Clive Donner, President Australian Friends of Tel Aviv University (WA) Chairperson, Australian AFTAU Pty Ltd
Rosie Potaznik, President Australian Friends of Tel Aviv University (Victoria)
Jenny Hillman, President
Jaime Murow Troice, President NETHERLANDS Dutch Friends of Tel Aviv University
Jan Dante, Chairman
Australian Friends of Tel Aviv University (New South Wales)
Norwegian Friends of Tel Aviv University
Millie Bettsak, President
Dr. Bernhard Ramsauer, President
Panamanian Friends of Tel Aviv University
Austrian Friends of Tel Aviv University
Lucienne Kampel, President
David Ades, President
Portuguese Friends of Tel Aviv University
Brazilian Friends of Tel Aviv University
Renée Cohen Zaide
Brazilian Friends of Tel Aviv University Rio de Janeiro
Viktor Vekselberg, President
Dr. Mario Gurvitz Cardoni
Russian Friends of Tel Aviv University
Brazilian Friends of Tel Aviv University Porto Alegre
Jonathan Osrin, Chairman South African Friends of Tel Aviv University
Ariela Cotler, National President Canadian Friends of Tel Aviv University
David Altshuller, Regional Chair Canadian Friends of Tel Aviv University Ontario and Western Canada
Josh Cummings, Regional Chair Canadian Friends of Tel Aviv University Ottawa, Quebec and Atlantic Canada
Ketty Grun, Liaison Ecuadorian Friends of Tel Aviv University
Prof. François Heilbronn, President French Friends of Tel Aviv University (AFAUTA)
Uwe Becker, President German Friends of Tel Aviv University
Sharon Ser, Chairperson Hong Kong Friends of Tel Aviv University
Patricia Nahmad, President Isaac Querub, Honorary President Spanish Friends of Tel Aviv University
Peter Seideman, President Swedish Friends of Tel Aviv University
Glen Watson, Chairman, Scottish Group Tel Aviv University Trust
Bettina Szames, President Uruguayan Friends of Tel Aviv University
Clement Erbmann, National Chairman American Friends of Tel Aviv University