Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar sent a letter to the presidents of the country’s institutions of higher education earlier this week asking them to accommodate students in reserve duty.

“In recent days, as part of Operation Pillar of Defense, which the IDF launched, reservists are being recruited. Naturally, many of the recruits are studying in institutions of higher education,” Sa’ar wrote.

“This requires our full devotion to the reservists who bear the burden, in order to provide them with all the assistance necessary to ensure that their studies will not be affected.”

Eli Balshan, a third-year student in the Technion medical school’s American program, was called to reserve duty last Friday. During this year of study, he and his classmates have been doing rotating internships at hospitals across the country.

“When I was told I have to go, I called the hospital I’m at now directly,” he said. “But the head of the department told me not to worry, [to] go and that they’d take care of everything. So that was nice.”

He added that, despite the reassurance, he was still worried about the study material he will be missing while in the army.

“School doesn’t stop for you to catch up at your convenience,” he said. “I hope it’ll work out; they’re not going to punish me.”

In a survey conducted in 2011 by the IDF reserves unit and the National Union of Israeli Students, 3,000 university and college attendees had ranked institutions according to their treatment of students who serve in the IDF reserves. The Technion was ranked in fourth place.

At the top of the list was the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, a private college that sees itself as a Zionist academic establishment.

“The IDC Herzliya holds tremendous respect [for] all the people who serve in the IDF,” the college wrote in a statement to The Jerusalem Post. “It was the first academic institute to recognize long-lasting active reserve duty as equal to volunteer activity, which is accredited with academic credits.”

“Due to the current security crisis, the reserve duty department of the student union has been manning the student union offices all through its activity hours, in order to address the needs of the students who have been called into active reserve duty,” the text continued.

Brett Rudolph, who studies communications at IDC, said he is leaving for reserves on Sunday but is not worried about missing classes.

“The school is actually really good with this,” he said.

“My absence will count as credits, and since I’m on scholarship, I’m supposed to do community service, but the reserve duty will count as that.”

Prof. Uriel Reichman, president of IDC, sent a letter and showed his support for reservist students earlier this week.

“We miss you on campus,” he wrote. “We are first and foremost with you. We shall await you, be in contact with you and make sure your studies will not be compromised.

Your mission is vital, and all of us in your second home await your peaceful return.”

According to a faculty member at IDC, lecturers have been instructed not to take attendance in the past week.

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