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The latest from BIU: December 2023

A Message from Bar-Ilan University's Vice President

While the rest of the world ushers in 2024, here in Israel we are still very much “in” October 7th, 2023. With the war raging on two fronts, thousands of evacuees unable to go home and over 130 hostages still unreturned, we have not had a moment to process or even properly mourn all those we have lost. But the coming new year reminds us that time marches on, and we too must continue to move forward with faith and positivity.

After months of delay, the school year is slated to open at the end of December. We look forward to welcoming our students back to campus while remaining acutely aware of those who are still serving on the front and cannot yet return, as well as those who will not return at all.

Since the outbreak of the war, Bar-Ilan faculty and administration have worked to support the country in meaningful ways and will continue to do so even after the academic year begins. Our initial emergency responses- such as the Teddy Bear Resiliency Clinic and the mobile optometry van- created tremendous positive impact and are ongoing. With the help of our partners, we embarked on a hugely successful campaign to ease the financial burden of our students when they return from the war. And each week new initiatives are developed in response to the changing needs of the population- such as providing educational frameworks for evacuees from the Gazan periphery and the north.

Last week, Bar-Ilan faculty and staff planted the “Garden of the Returned”, featuring 137 flowering plants that will serve as a hopeful reminder of our friends, neighbors and family members still held in Gaza. May we soon see their safe return.

None of this would have been possible without you, our global friends and partners, whose staunch support at this critical time enables us to plant the seeds of a better tomorrow.


With gratitude and hope for better days,


Dr. Sharon Goldman

Vice President for Development

Journey from Darkness to Light

BIU Faculty, staff and students participated in "Journey from Darkness to Light", a Hanukkah special event held to mark two months of the Iron Swords War. Among the speakers at the event was Prof. Eitan Okun, a researcher at the Brain Center and a member of Kibbutz Alumim's standby squad who fought terrorists on October 7th. At the end of the event, participants planted 137 flowering plants- one for each of the hostages- in a new garden on campus. The garden, called the "Garden of the Returned", is intended to remind us of the hostages still in captivity and serve as a symbol of hope for their speedy and safe return. 

BUI hosts the 7679 Battalion  

As part of the national emergency plan, Bar-Ilan University was asked to house search and rescue military units affiliated with the Home Front Command's Ganim district. The unit was housed in buildings 505 (Dahan), 507 (Nagel) and 604 (Katz) for the first two months of the war.

The unit partook in a variety of security missions and held several events on campus, including officer rank graduation ceremonies in Nagel Hall, team- building evenings, cultural performances and Shabbat dinners in the Nagel lobby. At the end of their stay, the battalion held a large event in the presence of the district commander, the mayor of Bnei Brak, representatives from the city of Givat Shmuel and Israel police and emergency officials.

BIU researchers write the manual for receiving child hostages

Unsurprisingly, there was no existing manual for how to receive released child hostages. To address the urgent need, three Bar-Ilan researchers and social workers at Schneider hospital- Yifat Ezer Cohen, Sigalit Ofer and Michal Sharabi, among others, drew materials from the worlds of violence and trauma to write the manual from scratch in the weeks leading up to the first captive's release.

The Influence of Sea Power in Iran’s Proxy War 

The Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA) at BIU has put out a series of perspective papers explaining the current situation. This week's article, by CDR. David Levy, explains how the Houthi-led offensive against commercial shipping represents both an escalation and a significant strategic challenge. This development extends the conflict’s impact beyond regional boundaries, threatening Israel’s security, global maritime commerce, and the principles of international maritime law. 

Click here to read the full article!

Educational lectures for evacuees

In a new initiative, a group of Bar-Ilan researchers will provide educational lectures on a variety of subjects to evacuees throughout the country. A delegation led by Prof. Ruth Feldman (neurosciences) and including Prof. Arnon Atzmon (humanities) Prof. Racheli Dekel (law) and Prof. Noa Vilchinsky – (psychology) visit the hotels where the evacuees are being housed and deliver academic lectures. The first meeting was held at the Kfar Maccabiah Hotel.

BIU researchers are changing the narrative


Academia for Israel is an outreach initiative which calls on campus faculty to help change the narrative on US campuses. The project deals with the creation of accessible, reliable and fact-based knowledge platforms on various issues surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and explaining the Israeli position. The project is featured on the YouTube channel "Faculty for Israel", which was established specifically for the project. Take a look!

Come see what we've been up to!


Some of our earliest war initiatives are still going strong!

Click on the highlighted links to see short clips of our education program for evacuated children and mobile optometry clinic.

For more information or to donate, please contact:

Randy E. Spiegel, CEO

Canadian Friends of Bar-Ilan University




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