HADASSAH COLLEGE JERUSALEM AND THE NORTHERN FRONT
(New York, NY -- August 09, 2006) -- At Hadassah College Jerusalem (HCJ), the war in Lebanon has unfortunately hit very close to home. On Sunday, August 6, Yehuda Greenfeld, a first year student in the Biotechnology Department, who had only recently been called up for reserve duty with his paratrooper unit, was one of 12 Israel Defense Forces soldiers killed at Kfar Giladi. The next day, Yehuda’s family and friends said goodbye to him for the last time; classmates and friends, as well as teachers and administrators from the college, chartered a bus to that most heartbreaking of hills, Mount Herzl Military Cemetery, to also bid him farewell.
Yehuda was 27 years old. He was married to Gabriella and they have two young children, Reut, who is 18 months old, and Ron, who is 4 months old. Throughout his first year as a student of the Biotechnology department, Yehuda proved to be a diligent and outstanding student, completing his freshman year with honors. Before coming to the college, he devoted his time to Torah study and working with Ethiopian immigrants to Israel.
Yehuda was one of the 10 students in the Biotechnology Department that have been called for reserve duty. As the only undergraduate program of its kind in Israel, the Biotechnology Department attracts the most motivated, talented, and eager future scientists. Yehuda’s untimely and tragic death is a painful loss for the department, the College, and for Israel.
Every week since the beginning of the war, staff members at the college have been busy calling all our students from the North. Prof. Nava Ben-Zvi, the president of the college, has herself spoken to more than 30 students. The students are all touched by the college’s gesture of care and have taken the college up on the offers of assistance and availability. Many students have left their homes and do not know what has become of their houses and neighbors.
Amar, a student from the Druze village of Majdel Kroom, is the first Druze to study Industrial Design in Israel. Prof. Ben-Zvi’s call found him sitting in a bomb shelter in his village. His mother had been with him in Jerusalem the entire previous week, but news of the tragic death of two cousins from a katyusha rocket brought them back to their northern village. Two more people from this family – who serve Israel and love the land – have been lost. The family is in mourning; they are forced to cry together in shelters. Amar returns to Jerusalem at night because he deeply misses the city and calls this place home.
Shiraz Aharon, a member of the Chirkassy sect, from the village of Richaniya near Meiron in the Galilee, is studying Medical Laboratory Science. Her brother is serving in the IDF in Lebanon. Shiraz’s mother is overcome with worry and cries a lot. The college reached out to Shiraz and let her know that we are willing and eager to help her and her family in any way possible,
Noa, a student from the Optometry Department who lives in Carmiel, was very lucky; her family is abroad, but their house was hit and damaged by a katyusha rocket. No one was hurt. Noa does not want to return to the damaged home of her youth and is thankful that her Hadassah College dorm room is able to serve as a safe and secure place in Jerusalem.
All the students expressed tremendous gratitude for the college’s efforts. They have all articulated what so many others already know: that Hadassah is their home. In the true Hadassah spirit, this home has been opened to the family members of these students. The downtown residence will continue to serve the northern students and their families until the sounds of war cease and it will be possible to return to their homes, neighbors, and communities.
The citizens of Israel, to the degree they are able, are trying to carry on their daily lives and to keep a rational and sensible attitude. The college is supporting these efforts and has arranged for buses to bring prospective students to the open house on Thursday, August 10th so they can continue planning the upcoming academic year and their future. The registration fee will be waived for those who register at the open house and an additional scholarship of 10 percent will be granted to freshman students from Northern Israel.
Exams have been rescheduled for all students who found the current situation an obstacle to studying and preparing properly. Even those students, who managed to study in the sub-optimal learning environment of a bomb-shelter, have been overwhelmed by the risk of leaving these protected areas to take exams. For the same reasons – to promote a feeling of normalcy and continuity – the college has rescheduled interviews for potential students who have applied to various programs for the 2006-2007 academic year.