Former Mossad director Efraim Halevy and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra were
among those who received honorary doctorates from Bar- Ilan University on
Tuesday night, as was South African immigrant, venture capitalist and
philanthropist Morris Kahn.
Also honored in the conferment ceremony on
the lawns of the Dahan Family Unity Park were Nobel laureates Prof.
Shechtman and Prof. Edward C. Prescott, organic farming pioneer Mario
Moshe Levy, philanthropists Selim Yehoshua Salti and Susanne Czuker, and actor
Shmuel Atzmon- Wircer.
Kahn – who was recognized for making “an indelible
mark on Israel, creating a global software leader and catalyzing a hi-tech
explosion” – received special thanks from BIU president Prof. Moshe Kaveh for
his contribution to the university’s Nanotechnology Institute and School of
Medicine in the Galilee.
Kaveh, who is stepping down in October after 18
years at the university’s helm, also congratulated former science and technology
minister Daniel Herschkowitz, a mathematician and rabbi whose appointment as the
next president was approved by the board of trustees at its 58th general meeting
“I wish much success to my successor, Prof. Daniel
Herschkowitz, in fulfilling this important role,” Kaveh said. “I am completely
satisfied, and thank the Almighty for the privilege I’ve had in advancing the
great work of Bar-Ilan University.”
Kaveh praised Halevy – who was born
in London in 1934 – “for his lifelong dedication to Israel’s
“As the ninth Mossad director, he worked to thwart threats to
Israel and rescue Jews from hostile lands,” the university president
For his part, Halevy said that receiving an honorary doctorate
represented “the closing of a circle.”
“I am the great-grandson of
Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berlin, the Netziv, the father of Chaim Berlin, who was the
rabbi of Jerusalem during the Ottoman period, and the younger brother of Rabbi
Meir Berlin Bar-Ilan, for whom this university was named,” Halevy said. “The
Netziv was not only a great Torah sage, but also a serious scholar of subjects
such as the security of the people of Israel. That’s why standing in front of
you today has a special meaning for me.”
Kahn, founder of international
communications provider the Aurec Group and Israeli software giant Amdocs, is
helping to reverse “the brain drain” by drawing Israeli scientists back from
abroad and equipping them with state-ofthe- art laboratories here.
support of frontier research by returning scientists is strengthening Israel’s
competitive edge in the global scientific arena,” BIU said.
expressed similar sentiments about the university, saying, “I think that one of
the contributions that Bar-Ilan is making toward Israel’s future is bringing
back our promising scientists. They will make a tremendous contribution to
Israel’s economy. The future of Israel depends on its hi-tech, and these are the
people who will do the job.”
Born in Benoni in 1930, he first visited
Israel in 1955. He discovered “a strange country, a foreign language, different
food – but a feeling of being at home with my people,” he said. The following
year, he returned, this time to stay.
His current focus is on
Through the Kahn Foundation, he seeks to better the lives
of thousands through a broad spectrum of projects in science, medicine, health,
education, leadership and the environment.
“I have been successful in
business, and this has given me the ability to do things that are satisfying and
This is the underpinning of why I do what I do,” he said.
“Philanthropy requires work; it’s not just writing checks.”
the 2011 Nobel laureate in chemistry, was born in Tel Aviv in 1941 and now lives
in Haifa. He received an honorary doctorate “for his groundbreaking discovery
which has changed the conception of solid matter,” the university
“His findings of ‘quasicrystals’ – revealing that atoms in a
crystal can be packed in asymmetrical patterns – has opened up a new research
field and positioned Israel at the scientific forefront,” BIU
Prescott – who was born in 1940, won the 2004 Nobel Prize in
Economics and lives in Arizona during the winter – was honored for his seminal
works in macroeconomics, “which have changed the way we manage our financial
institutions and make policy decisions in an ever-more complex
Prescott remarked that he thought the Israeli economy should be
faring much better than it is.
“Given the talents of the Israeli people,
Israel should be catching up and even surpassing the leading industrial
countries in terms of per capita output and income,” he said. “It is true that
over the last five years, Israel has improved relative to the EU and the US, but
this is because the EU and US economies have been doing badly, not that the
Israeli economy has been doing particularly well.”
Levy, who was born in
Italy in 1924 and lives on Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu, was recognized for being “a
pioneer in organic farming and founder of the Israel Bio-Organic Agriculture
Atzmon-Wircer, artistic director and founder of the
Yiddishpiel Theater, was born in Poland in 1929 and received his honorary
doctorate for “his lead role in preserving and disseminating the Yiddish
language,” according to BIU. Supreme Court Judge Elyakim Rubinstein and fellow
Yiddishpiel actor Sassi Keshet were among those who placed the ceremonial hood
on Atzmon- Wircer’s shoulders.
Salti, who was born in Turkey in 1935, was
hailed for “his monumental contribution to preserving Judeo-Spanish heritage and
the Ladino language.”
Recalling how his father would ask him if Ladino
would exist in the 21st century, Salti said he had established the Yehoshua and
Naime Salti Center for Ladino Studies at Bar-Ilan in order to preserve the
historic language for future generations.
Czuker was recognized for “her
profound commitment to Jewish education, continuity and heritage, as well as for
her deep devotion to the State of Israel, demonstrated through her support of
educational and Zionist enterprises.”
Born in Hungary, Czuker lives in
the US, where she and her husband, Jan, a Holocaust survivor who died in 2010,
developed a successful real estate business and interior design
In a moving ceremony on campus Wednesday, she dedicated the Jan
& Susanne Czuker and Family Main Lobby and Auditorium in the Jim Joseph
At the ceremony, the university paid tribute to
Aharon Dahan, “a trusted friend, mentor and dedicated visionary” who passed away
earlier this year.
“Mr. Dahan’s generosity was largely responsible for
changing the face of Bar-Ilan University – both physically and academically –
over the past 20 years,” BIU said.
Finally, the university conferred an
honorary doctorate on the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra – which was founded in
1936 – for its “instrumental role in enriching Israeli culture.”
point for international musical talent, the IPO provides an exemplary model for
generations of musicians and music devotees,” BIU said.
throughout the world, it serves as Israel’s goodwill ambassador, carrying a
message of peace and harmony.”
The colorful ceremony concluded with the
IPO’s performance of Tchaikovsky’s Romeo & Juliet Fantasy Overture,
conducted by Yoel Levi, and the singing of Hatikva.