For those who are home, and for those who are on the way. For those who support the historic and just return of the land of Israel to its people, forever loyal to their inheritance, and its restoration.
Yes, I was at Bar-Ilan University on Sunday night, the night of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's big speech, but I didn't hear it. Neither did the hundreds of others who were seated with me at the outdoor amphitheater on The head of the Humanities faculty joked about Netanyahu's speech. campus. You see, Netanyahu's speech at the university's BESA (Begin-Sadat) Center for Strategic Studies just happened to coincide with commencement ceremonies for the graduates of the Humanities and Jewish Studies faculties.
In fact, the head of the Humanities faculty joked about Netanyahu's speech, which was taking place just a few hundred yards away in another building on campus. In his address to the graduates and their families, he quipped, "The Prime Minister may have more cameras at his speech, but we have a bigger venue and a larger crowd." But joking aside, what made an impression on me, as one of the graduates, was another thing said in the commencement speeches. We, the graduates and their guests, were reminded that, for the most part, students who choose to pursue a degree in the Humanities (Liberal Arts) or Jewish Studies do not do so in order to attain a degree that will vastly further their economic fortunes in the work place. No, they study theses disciplines (Languages, Philosophy, Music, Jewish Studies, etc.) because they truly love the subject matter. In a world were university graduates are hard pressed to find employment (as is the general public due to the current economic crises) attaining a BA or MA in Humanities or Jewish Studies is quite laudable.
One can always poke holes in the university system in Israel (strikes, tuition raises, faculty leaving for positions abroad) and some of it may be justified. In fact, judging by the amount of no-shows (even my department had a number of graduates who did not come to claim their diploma), one could conclude that graduation ceremonies do not hold the prestige they once did.
But I disagree with the chairman's contention that the Prime Minister had more cameras at his speech than we did at our graduation. Film cameras and TV crews, yes, but hand-held cameras? Not by a long shot. When you see husbands and wives, kids and parents, siblings and friends, all snapping photos of their beloved graduates, well, you get a different picture.
In between speeches at the graduation, the musical interludes featured songs originally sung by Arik Einstein. Of course, his popular song Uf Gozal (Fly, Little Nestling), which also seems to be played at every army induction Sunday night at Bar-Ilan wasn't about Bibi (or Obama), it was about BA and MA. ceremony, was played at Bar-Ilan, but the one that got me thinking the most was Einstein's Ani Ve Ata, with its familiar chorus of Ani ve ata neshane et ha'olam ("You and I will change the world"): You and I will change the world and then all will follow / Others have said it before me, but that doesn't matter / you and I will change the world. You and I will try, from / the beginning we will have a hard time. No matter! It's not too bad!
The TV cameras may have been on the other side of campus on Sunday night at Bar-Ilan; and we may not have made it into the top story of the nightly news, but we graduates, in our own small way, are trying to change the world. Sunday night at Bar-Ilan wasn't about Bibi (or Obama), it was about BA and MA - and some very optimistic graduates.
I visited Hevron in November 2000 after the outbreak of the Rosh Hashanah War to see what could be done to assist in the face of the growing daily attacks on the community. After returning to work for the community in the summer of 2001, a bond and a love was forged that grows to this day. My wife Melody and I merited to be married at Ma'arat HaMachpela and now host visitors from throughout the world every Shabbat as well as during the week. Our goal, "Time to come Home!"