Training and developing university students from all walks of life

  (photo credit: Boaz Antebi)
(photo credit: Boaz Antebi)

"studying at Michlelet Or Yehuda is the realization of a dream that I couldn’t fulfill elsewhere,” says Riki Kohan Benlulu, a second-year student at the school. Established in 1997, Michlelet Or Yehuda  provides a window of opportunity to anyone who wants to expand their education, skills, and knowledge in diverse fields of knowledge. The school enables the adult population in the city and its surroundings to acquire a professional and academic education, allowing members of diverse groups to engage in academic studies at any age and stage of their lives.

Kohan Benlulu, 47, embodies the school’s unique approach.  She lives in a public housing project in Ashdod and travels by bus one hour each way once a week to attend classes. “I would go halfway across the world to get there,” she says, smiling, about the school which she considers her second home. 

Michlelet Or Yehuda offers a variety of professional courses that enable students to find employment in a number of areas, including accounting, payroll, mortgage consulting, real estate brokerage, and more. In addition, the college offers bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in conjunction with the Open University.

One of the unique degree programs offered is a degree in gender and criminology, which is headed by Dr. Yali Hashash. “When we teach gender,” she says, “we teach about the ways in which society is structured around gender, and how that influences our beliefs, our thoughts, our families, our workplace and our opportunities. We learn to ask questions about it and understand something about our own experiences as men or women, and in society what we can do  to achieve equality.” 

Credit: University of Michigan
Credit: University of Michigan

Kohan Benlulu is a student in the gender and criminology program and says that the program has enriched her thinking and writing skills and given her tools that she uses in her advocacy work to improve public housing in Israel.

Students study at Michlelet Or Yehuda one day a week, enabling students to continue their full-time employment while studying. “We have women students over 50 who worked hard all their lives and never had time to study until now. We have policemen and policewomen who want to take a more responsible position in their organizations and need a BA degree,” says Dr. Hashash.  She lauds the diversity of the school, saying, “In one classroom, you can have a settler and a person who is LGBTQ and a police officer and members of the radical left and members of the radical right, and they can all share experiences with mutual respect.” Hashash adds that in today’s fractious society, “The ability to create a teaching framework with respectful discourse between people who are civil servants and work in civil society is priceless.”

Students in the degree programs at Michlelet Or Yehuda take courses provide by Michlelet Or Yehuda and the Open University. The degree they receive is fully accredited, offering them the opportunity to advance within their own organizations or pursue additional graduate studies at any other institution. 

Dana Gurbanov, a resident of Rishon LeZion,  epitomizes the Michlelet Or Yehuda experience. Like Riki Kohan Benlulu, she studied gender and criminology under Dr. Hashash. Gurbanov began the degree program at age 34 as part of the first group of students in the gender and criminology program and recently graduated. “My life’s dream was to get a BA degree,” she says, “but because I had learning disabilities, I thought I couldn’t do it.” 

Gurbanov highly recommends the program for students who are members of the workforce and says that it is well-organized with the Open University program. “As a result of my studies,” she says, “I can now look at things with a critical eye, and I view things differently now. I am more active in feminism and women’s rights.”

Dr. Hashash expresses great admiration for the students in her program and points out that many students require scholarships to attend classes. “They are so committed to getting a BA degree and receiving an education,” she says. “We are trying to raise funds. We have raised some funds for tuition and have been able to enroll people who had no chance to attend without these funds. For them, attending school makes a world of difference in their lives, but also in our lives as a society to which they contribute as organizational, or communal or nationwide leadership.. It is important for us to be able to raise funds for scholarships.”

Concludes Dr. Hashash, “We are not a big institution, but we have the best intentions, the best teachers, the best hub, and the best place to grow community leaders and allow for job mobility, which is so difficult to achieve in Israel right now.”

We thank you for your willingness to contribute to strengthening higher education and creating leadership among first-generation students. Your contribution changes lives.

You can contribute to the Criminology and Gender Program in one of the following ways:

Cheque to the order of the First Community Center (Or Yehuda College)

Address: 87 Eliyahu Saadon, 6039703

Bank transfer

To the First Community Center bank account: Bank Hapoalim (12), Or Yehuda branch (657), account number 116300

Credit Card - You can contact the college's representative Noy Zamir at 037353545

To contact us by e-mail: Or Yehuda College 

Dr. Yali Hashash

This article was written in cooperation with Michlelet Or Yehuda