Boston Delegation Heads to Israel for Close-up View of Diverse Campus

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By: Kate Levi, Neighbor | Posted: Fri, May 5, 2023 at 5:21 pm ET

University of Haifa welcomes a delegation of more than 30 volunteer leaders from Haifa’s sister city, Boston

University of Haifa last week welcomed a delegation of more than 30 volunteer leaders from Haifa’s sister city, Boston, as part of a larger group of 300 people who visited the Jewish state with Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston’s (CJP) “Spark” Israel experience.

The delegation learned about the University’s various Arab-Israeli shared society initiatives from Dean of Students Prof. Batya Engel-Yeger; listened intently as Vice President and Dean of Research Prof. Mouna Maroun and PhD candidate Maha Shehade Switat recounted their personal academic journeys that showcase the University’s commitment to fostering social mobility; heard about the Ruderman Program for American Jewish Studies from program head Dr. David Barak-Gorodetsky; and spoke with students about the situation in Israel and their hopes for the future. Before departing the campus, delegation members met with either Prof. Smadar Ben Tabou de Leon (Department of Marine Biology) or Dr. Tamar Krugman (Lady Barbara Davis Wild Cereal Gene Bank) to get a taste of the groundbreaking research being conducted in University of Haifa’s laboratories.

The delegation witnessed the University’s unique position as a living laboratory that pioneers a model for shared society in Israel’s most diverse major city. Arabs comprise 45% of the school’s undergraduate student body. The institution also plays a key role in creating the country’s middle class, as 47% of its undergraduates are in the first generation of their family to enroll in higher education; 84% are from the northern Israeli periphery, positioning the school as an educational, economic, and social anchor in that region.

The campus visit was organized by Dr. Jennifer Lewin of the University’s Department of English Language and Literature as well as former CJP president and University of Haifa board member Barry Shrage. “It was wonderful to see the city of Haifa welcome over 300 Participants from CJP’s Spark Mission celebrating Israel’s 75th anniversary,” said Shrage. “At a time of political crisis participants were especially interested in CJP’s work.”

Haifa and Boston have enjoyed a thriving relationship for nearly 34 years as part of CJP’s Boston-Haifa Connection, a multifaceted partnership which supports at-risk families, connects youth, and empowers change-makers in both cities. The partnership has played a major role in driving the growth of the economic relationship between Israel and Massachusetts. Today, more than 200 Israeli-founded companies call Massachusetts home, accounting for approximately 4% of the entire commonwealth’s GDP and generating more than 9,000 jobs, according to a New England-Israel Business Council study.