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University of Haifa is Raising Money for a New Medical School to specialize in Physical and Mental Rehabilitation Due to Many Injured/Traumatized Israelis Due to War

by Rhonda Spivak, January 28, 2024

 

Up to now, the University of Haifa has not had a medical school, but at the behest of the Council of Higher Education in Israel, Haifa University is now going to build a one. "Israel is going to be a country with many young people need physical and mental rehabilitation," Ron Robin, the University's President told the Winnipeg Jewish Review, in a recent telephone interview from Montreal where he was speaking and raising money for this important new medical school. Robin notes that although this is not in the news a lot,  there are "thousands" of Israeli soldiers who have been wounded in the current war against Hamas in Gaza, who have experienced significant injury, many of whom have had to have "limbs amputated" and many who will suffer PTSD. Those in Israel who are experiencing acute emotional trauma will require ongoing mental health services. Robin indicated that the University “has raised $60 million U.S., out of the $120 million US that is required to build the new medical school.” 

 

Ariel Karabelnicoff, Executive Director of  Canadian Friends of Haifa University hopes that Canadian donors from all walks of life  will play a major role in stepping up to contribute to this worthy cause. "We are going to have to plan to provide for the extensive needs of the population of Northern Israel," he says, indicating it will be possible for donors to have a variety of naming rights. He is hoping that alumni of Haifa University will also contribute to this important cause, and anyone interested should contact him directly at his office in Toronto: 416-972-9400

 

Robins points out that since the war began, "There has been a dramatic rise in students on campus seeking mental health services. University of Haifa provides these services not only to students but to the Haifa community." 

 

When asked about concerns that Israel could end up in a war with Hezbollah in the North, Robin replies that "I can see the border with Lebanon from my office window, and am reminded of this daily." The University has safe havens, and bomb shelters, including an underground parking lot that can serve as a bomb shelter. "We have drills regularly, he says, noting that instructions are given in Hebrew, Arabic and English. The students of the University live in the north such that they will all be affected by any escalation in the conflict with Hezbollah.

 

Haifa University has top notch schools of nursing and social work, fields that Robin says will be "much in demand "given the level of physical injury and emotional trauma since Hamas's Oct 7 attacks, that lead to the outbreak of war in Gaza. There will also be high demand for "clinical phycologists", he notes.

 

Up until Dec 31,2023 when the semester began, the dorms of the University hosted displaced families from communities along the Northern border with Lebanon, which have become ghost towns due to the ongoing conflict with Hezbollah in the North. Now these dorms are inhabited by Jewish and Arab students who live together peacefully.

"Arab and Jewish students have personal relationships. At the University we cultivate a shared society, where the common denominator is education," Robin states

 

Robin emphasizes that University of Haifa which has 17000 students is the "most diverse campus in Israel" with Jewish, Christian Arab, Muslim Arab, and Druze students. "We also have the largest group of Ethiopian students, and we have Haredi students. We have three military colleges. And 65% of our students are female...Most of the Arab students are seeking a profession, in the health care field, or in computer and data sciences." 

 

Additionally Robin explains that "Over 50% of our students are first generation in academia, which is the highest percentage in the country." Essentially University of Haifa is creating Israel's middle class, and working towards a shared society, irrespective of background.

 

"The University's motto is to create a shared society," Karabelnicoff states. 

 

Up until Dec 31,2023 when the semester began, the dorms of the University hosted displaced families from communities along the Northern border with Lebanon, which have become ghost towns due to the ongoing conflict with Hezbollah in the North. Now these dorms are inhabited by both Jewish and Arab students. "Arab and Jewish students in the dorms have personal relationships. At the University we cultivate a shared society, where the common denominator is education."  About 40% of the undergraduates at Haifa University are Arab, and 25% of graduate students are Arab.

 

At the beginning of the war, according to Robin, "there were 1500 students on reserve duty, and now there are some 500 students on reserve duty," and measures are taken to accommodate them. The university has recorded classes in part so soldiers on active duty can stay caught up, and it has awarded scholarships worth about $530 to all students called up to the IDF. Annual tuition is approx $3000 US.

 

When the war broke out, Robin explains that the University raised money to provide mental health services, and it  turned to some of its primary donors to donate to the war effort. "One donor bought 20 mobile MRI's that were distributed to mobile army hospital in Southern Israel. Other donations went toward the purchase of ceramic vests.

 

Robis said that  prior to the beginning of the semester "we were in contact with every Jewish and Arab student to ensure they felt safe coming back to University." He says he "expected some students to drop out but that has not been the case…Given the situation in the country we're doing well."

 

 
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.


Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.