By James Harris
One of Israel’s most prestigious academic institutions is IDC Herzliya. The interdisciplinary center has created an educational system that combines academic tuition with a strong commitment to social issues. This combination of academic studies with the problems of everyday life is an ideal environment in which to develop the qualities needed to produce the leaders of tomorrow.
IDC was founded 20 years ago by Prof. Uriel Reichman, who serves as its president. Reichman based IDC’s mission statement on the Zionist ideal of contributing, which for him means contributing to the State of Israel and the Jewish People. In addition to being a nationally inclined institution, IDC is also very open to the outside world.
Today, IDC boasts dozens of volunteer social service programs, which continuously make inroads into the social environment and serve as reminders of one’s responsibility towards those in need in terms of generosity and assistance. Social involvement also teaches students the important principles of democracy and free enterprise.
During last summer’s Operation Protective Edge, IDC students proved their commitment to Israel. During the fighting, Israel received very bad press overseas. To combat the negative publicity, IDC’s Student Union opened an Advocacy Room to promote Israel’s stance.
More than 650 volunteers worked in the Advocacy Room, which created quite a stir in the cyber world. Surfers from 117 countries used the website, which was translated into 29 languages.
The activities of the Advocacy Room were unique in Israel and generated a great deal of attention worldwide, with articles about its success published in leading newspapers such as The New York Times and The Guardian.
The central role of Israel in the Jewish world has always been at the heart of IDC. The Raphael Recanati International School (RRIS) was established to enable students from around the world to benefit from high-level academic programs by offering courses in English.
“If you want to do business these days, you need to know English,” says Jonathan Davis, head of RRIS and VP for external relations. “The fact that we teach in English enables those who don’t know Hebrew well enough to come and study in Israel. It’s a great way of allowing a critical mass of people to study in a familiar environment.”
In addition, many veteran Israelis who want to perfect their English-language skills and meet students from other countries study at RRIS. The international school has a student body of 6,500, out of which 1,650students come from abroad. Significant numbers hail from such countries as the United States, Canada, Europe, Latin America, South Africa, Australia and the former Soviet Union. With this distinctly international flavor on campus, it is not surprising that IDC firmly encourages global networking.
“When you graduate from IDC, you have friends all over the world,” says Davis. “One of the cornerstones of IDC is to do everything in our power to strengthen the bond between overseas Jewish communities and the State of Israel. Many of our students take an ulpan and improve their Hebrew. In the summer, we run a community ulpan that is open to non-students as well. In fact, 70 percent of those who study here end up staying in Israel on a permanent basis, and many of our graduates serve in the IDF. It makes us one of the largest academic absorption centers in the country, if not the largest,” he says.
Studies at IDC Herzliya are focused on providing graduates with the means of making a seamless integration into today’s rapidly changing business environment. Whether it is an MBA, a degree in organizational behavior or any one of the other degrees on offer, the curriculum combines a unique blend of academic material and practical experience.
IDC prides itself on its strong sense of community on campus. An open-door policy enables students and faculty to work together, and counseling and assistance ensure that students can devote their entire attention to the task at hand.
Moreover, the IDC Herzliya Hillel House serves as a hub for Jewish activities on campus, enriching students’ lives with meaningful Jewish experiences. Hillel House strives to meet the specific needs of international, veteran Israeli and new immigrant students through activities that celebrate the broad spectrum of languages and cultures in Israel, such as Friday evening Shabbat dinners, trips around Israel, weekend seminars and the celebration of Jewish and Israeli national holidays.
For more information about IDC Herzliya, visit the website.