Hadassah's role in education

The Hadassah College of Technology stands as a reminder of their commitment to education.

By JAMES HARRIS
October 11, 2012 14:02
3 minute read.
Hadassah College of Technology

Hadassah's role in education. (photo credit: courtesy of Hadassah Women's Zionist Organization )

 
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The Hadassah College of Technology in downtown Jerusalem is among the important accomplishments of Hadassah, The Women's Zionist Organization of America. Hadassah is usually associated with the hospitals, and indeed Hadassah has made unparalleled contributions to the development of medicine. Yet the women of Hadassah never forgot that the founding charter includes a commitment to ³promote the Zionist ideal through education," as well as "public health initiatives."

Since the beginning, Hadassah has been involved in education projects, in training nurses and doctors, establishing youth villages and fostering vocational education.

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But the establishment of Hadassah College was among the crowning achievements in Hadassah's partnership with Israel.

In the late 1960s, the women of Hadassah analyzed the education system in Israel and came to the conclusion that there needed to be additional options for young men and women after high school. Not everyone could easily acclimate in universities. They were familiar with community colleges and junior colleges in the United States and knew they often served as a conduit to fully academic studies and, even more important, to satisfying job opportunities.

At the time, it was a novel idea. Today, colleges are very common in Israel. In the 1960s, Hadassah was a pioneer.

One of the reasons that Hadassah decided on a college in Jerusalem was as a means to bridge the social and economic divide. The Jerusalem population is the poorest of Israel's major cities.

For many of the underprivileged, university seemed too high a goal, like reaching for the stars. A college would bridge both the psychological gap and, in most cases, an economic gap.

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The Hadassah women chose a fitting location: downtown Jerusalem. Hadassah has always been devoted to maintaining and developing Jerusalem. The college was housed in a historic building constructed in 1888 by Baron de Rothschild the first Jewish hospital built outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem.

That building on Hanevi'im Street was home to the Alice Seligsberg School, named for Henrietta Szold's closest friend and second national president of Hadassah. Two hospital wards had been converted for a vocational school for girls, while boys studied at a similar school named for Justice Brandeis. The progressive educational idea of these schools was to combine skills such as fashion design and carpentry with regular high school studies. In 1969, the Seligsberg and Brandeis schools joined in a comprehensive high school.

In a sense, Hadassah College of Technology was an outgrowth of Hadassah's educational approach of helping young people make use of their talents in their working lives. In 1972, the first Hadassah College students graduated. In 1978, Hadassah College of Technology opened Israel's first twoyear dental technicians' course, in cooperation with the faculty of the Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Dental Medicine.

Today, in most departments of Hadassah College, students earn bachelor's degrees together with training for a modern workforce. Hadassah College is fully accredited as an academic college by the Ministry of Education and the Council for Higher Education. It still emphasizes teaching marketable skills and thereby providing a better future for its graduates.

There is an advanced school of Computer Science, which gives undergraduate and graduate degrees, and a school of Health and Life sciences with majors in Optometry, Biotechnology, Communication Disorders, Environmental Health Sciences and Medical Laboratory Sciences.

There is also a School of Design and Communication, which includes Industrial Design, Photographic Communication, Politics and Communication. And there is a School of Management that offers a degree in Management of Service Organizations.

Hadassah College graduates find work in research, the media and other information industries, and medical organizations, etc. In addition, the college has the Tachlit Center for Continuing Education for those who want to develop professionally by enhancing their education.

There's also an extensive pre-academic program aimed at helping immigrants integrate into Israeli academic requirements and culture. All students take part in community volunteer programs, and special services are available for students with special needs.

The college's president is Prof. Bertold Fridlender, immediate past chair of the Biotechnology Department, who recently took over from Prof. Nava Ben Zvi under whose guidance the college underwent further expansion and academization.

All this happens in downtown Jerusalem, where the beautiful campus has expanded to Havazelet Street. The Milton Gottesman Bridge links the two halves of Hadassah College 's downtown Jerusalem campus. It complements the traditional Jerusalem architecture of the Esther Gottesman Center for Technology.

It is fitting that this bridge will unify the campus of an institution that is renowned for building bridges in education.

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