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Yeshiva University President Richard M. Joel has announced plans to create a Center for Israel Studies in Jerusalem.
Joel said in a statement during a recent visit to Israel that he wants to "strengthen the active relationship between Yeshiva University and Israel." The trip by the New York-based Joel was aimed at recruiting students and inaugurating a newly furbished building at the YU campus in Jerusalem.
Since his appointment as president of YU in 2003, Joel has made strengthening the relationship of America's premier Jewish university with Israel one of the central platforms of his presidency.
He has overseen the development of the university's presence in Israel into a multi-functional center for academic exchange, which now stands as a satellite campus of YU.
Joel has already established the Center for the Jewish Future under Rabbi Kenneth Brander. The center is working with Tzohar, an organization of Israeli rabbis, to help develop communities in Israel and reach out to the unaffiliated. YU's medical school, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, has had faculty exchanges with the Weizmann Institute of Science, and is working on plans for future cooperation.
Joel further announced YU's first-ever academic convention in Israel, a colloquium on Torah U'madda (Torah and science) for YU students and alumni in Israel, which will take place in March, and will be exploring how Torah backgrounds keep Jewish professionals working in medicine, business, social work, education, and law in Israel informed.
As the nucleus of the colloquium, honorary doctorates will be presented to those who have made outstanding contributions to life in Israel in the spirit of 'Torah U'madda': Rabbanit Malke Bina, founder and educational director of Matan, a pioneer institution in women's Torah education in Jerusalem; Victor Geller, a Jewish communal administrator, author and lecturer; Professor Moshe Kaveh, an internationally renowned physicist who served as president of Bar-Ilan University; and Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, chief rabbi of the city of Efrat and founder of Ohr Torah Stone educational institutions. All represent the message of YU - that Torah Jews can impact the world with a combination of Torah and secular leadership.
While the colloquium will focus on those who have made an impact in Israel, where YU has the highest number of alumni olim of any university in the world, bringing the spirit of Torah U'madda with them, Joel also emphasized YU's universal outlook in bringing change to the world at large.
"We have a dual message for our students - we push them to move to Israel and make a difference here, and we also encourage them to help and serve the Jewish communities of the United States."
Joel is leading the campaign to enlarge and and strengthen this already successful institution to make it even more relevant to today's Jewish communities, wherever they may be.
During his visit to Israel, Joel met with President Moshe Katsav, Jewish Agency chairman Ze'ev Bielski and Hebrew University President Menachem Magidor, with whom he discussed future cooperative projects between Israel's main university and YU.
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