Oxford, All Souls College.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
For the first time in the Rhodes Trust’s 113- year history, two Israeli academics have been awarded the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship.
The historic event will be celebrated in Jerusalem on April 2, at an event attended by Charles Conn, CEO of the Rhodes Trust, as well as by donors who have generously supported the scholarships.
The scholars – Nadav Lidor, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Stanford University and Maayan Roichman from Tel Aviv University – were selected at the end of 2016 and will begin their graduate studies at Oxford University in October 2017.
The Rhodes Trust, the preeminent international scholarship program established at Oxford University in 1903, selects creative young leaders with a commitment to serving others.
In the century since the establishment of the Rhodes Scholarships, the Trust has convened a community of extraordinary people who share a history of enriching their communities, pioneering in their chosen fields, and applying the knowledge and experience acquired as scholars to the betterment of society.
The Israel scholarships are part of a wider geographic expansion, increasing the number of scholarships awarded each year from 83 to 95.
“Our aspiration is to identify and support innovative, energetic and ethical young leaders in Israel,” Conn said. “We see the value of additional cultural diversity in our cohorts of scholars every day and they learn from each other in profound ways.”
“The new Rhodes Scholars from Israel will contribute significantly through sharing their skills, experiences and energy with their peers at Oxford and we look forward to welcoming them to Rhodes House in October 2017,” he added.
The expansion will also see the addition of four Chinese scholarships, and 2017 scholarships in Jordan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Palestine, Syria, the United Arab Emirates and West Africa.
This increases the number of Rhodes Scholars studying at the University of Oxford at any one time to approximately 250.
Roichman, who recently received her master’s degree from the Adi Lautman Interdisciplinary Program for Outstanding Students at Tel Aviv University, will pursue a PhD in anthropology at Oxford University in the fall.
“I will be studying anthropology and will more specifically be researching education and multiculturalism,” she told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.
“Oxford is the university where I have always ultimately wanted to study,” Roichman said. “It is one of the places where the field of anthropology developed, and the professors have a long history conducting research in the field and today are engaging in groundbreaking research.”
Roichman said she had first heard about the Rhodes Scholarship a few years ago during her undergraduate studies.
“It is very exciting,” she said of being the first female Israeli to become a Rhodes Scholar.
“I never thought it would be possible for an Israeli and it is amazing and moving that I am able to join the long list of scholars.
“There are such impressive people who have been scholars,” Roichman added. “One of my inspirations in the field of anthropology studied as a Rhodes Scholar in the 1960s.s “I want to be a classic anthropologist, but I also want to push the boundaries between educational work and culture,” she said. “I believe that the caliber of the professors and sharing ideas with the other scholars will help me develop my research.”
When asked if she was concerned about the rising tide of antisemitism on campuses in the UK and the prevalence of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement, Roichman said she was looking forward to engaging in intellectual dialogue with all the Rhodes Scholars from all the participating countries.
“As soon as I was accepted I received a list of all the Rhodes Scholars and all their contacts and I have already have been in touch with a number of them,” she said. “So far everyone is very inviting and there are many interesting people who come from all over the world that I look forward to meeting and collaborating with in person.
“The idea of Rhodes [Scholarship] is to gather people who will be future leaders and will work together to better society,” she added.
Still, Roichman noted that antisemitism was “not something that I will stand for, especially not in an academic setting because this is a place which is supposed to promote an open exchange of ideas.”
In this spirit, Roichman said she hopes to be able to engage in an intellectual and open dialogue with her peers from other Middle Eastern countries and hopefully in time develop this dialogue into friendship.