Trip Blog — Day Two

May 27th, 2016

Editor’s Note: Lili Kalish Gersch, Director of Alumni Engagement at Project Interchange, and Dan Elbaum, Assistant Executive Director and Managing Director of Regional Offices at AJC, are in Israel with Project Interchange’s delegation of University Presidents and Chancellors and will be blogging about the delegation’s experiences.

How do we create an educational system that allows opportunity for everyone and not just the elite few? Both in Israel and in the United States this problem is taking on ever greater urgency, and our delegation of university presidents spent a great deal of day two thinking about this as they learned more about higher education in Israel.

The Council for Higher Education shared with the presidents that one of their growing challenges is better addressing the needs of Arab and ultra-orthodox students, a growing demographic force in Israel.

Then Yossi Vardi, one of the founding forces of high tech in Israel, argued that universities must look beyond the exceedingly select top tier and think about its responsibility to provide learning opportunities and legs up for the rest of society. Both points were reinforced by our conversation with Arab-Israeli professor and college president Dr. Dalia Fadilah, who laid out the significant obstacles for Arab-Israeli students, both from their own culture and institutional disadvantages.

During our dinner meeting with the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Daniel Shapiro, our participants were eager to learn about the ways in which the U.S. is supporting education for these groups.

While they recognize the differences between these challenges and those confronted by minorities in the U.S., they also saw many similarities, and were excited about the possibility of contributing their considerable expertise to exploring long-term solutions.

Tomorrow, to Jerusalem!

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Project Interchange.