Adina Bar-Shalom, the founder of the Haredi College in Jerusalem, is to be awarded the Israel Prize for lifetime achievement for her efforts in advancing higher education within the ultra-Orthodox sector.
Education Minister Shai Piron made the announcement on Tuesday, saying that Bar-Shalom had made “ground-breaking achievements to bridge social divisions and to advance the integration of a haredi lifestyle with societal openness to higher education.”
Bar-Shalom, who is the daughter of the late Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, founded the college in 2001. It is designed to meet the educational and religious needs of haredi men and women looking to acquire academic qualifications.
She encountered significant opposition to the idea of promoting academic studies within haredi society during the 1990s, but she insisted that ultra-Orthodox values could be preserved while acquiring a higher education and integrating into the work force.
The Haredi College opened in March 2001 and the first graduates were 45 women who obtained degrees in social work in October 2003.
Since then, numerous academic bachelor’s degree courses have opened at the college, including psychology, computer science, political science and media studies. Master’s degrees are also offered.
The degrees are offered by external academic institutes, such as Bar-Ilan University and others, but are taught under the auspices of the college.
Following the establishment of the Haredi College by Bar-Shalom, numerous other academic institutes have set up their own tracks designated for haredi students, providing them with the requisite conditions to enable them to study within those institutions.
There are approximately 8,000 haredi men and women studying in higher-education institutes, representing a dramatic increase over the last decade, although they still form a small percentage of haredim.
“Adina Bar-Shalom has succeeded in navigating the stormy waters of opposing ideologies and strong divisions and has brought about a substantial contribution to society,” Piron said while announcing the upcoming award.