Canadian Jewish News Article: "Hebrew University Gets Gift From Ex-Senator"

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Canadian and Israeli medical researchers and academics are about to get a double-dose of philanthropy from a former senator.

CJN GrafsteinToronto lawyer Jerry Grafstein – recently retired from his Senate seat – and his wife, Carole, have initiated two new projects that they hope will foster more ties between Canada and Israel.

The first, the Honourable Jerry and Carole Grafstein Network for Cancer Research, will support cancer research being conducted at Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada (IMRIC) and eventually facilitate collaboration on cancer research with Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital.

The second, the Honourable Jerry and Carole Grafstein Visiting Professor Program, will bring a “noted scholar” annually to the University of Toronto’s Centre for Jewish Studies to teach two courses. The program will also bring a Hebrew U PhD to Toronto for a post-doctoral fellowship at the centre.

The overall aims of the Grafsteins’ programs are to promote the transfer of knowledge between Canadian and Israeli scientists and academics, and expose Israel’s medical and scholarly contributions to society and, in so doing, help combat anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment.

Both programs are being promoted by the Canadian Friends of Hebrew University (CFHU), which said the projects will cost $1.5 million to complete. Between the Grafsteins’ donation and other fundraising activities, the organization has managed to raise two-thirds of the money.

The Grafsteins will be fêted at a CFHU gala event this month, when both programs will be officially launched, and it is hoped event attendees will donate enough to complete the fundraising goals of the projects.

The majority of the proceeds will go to IMRIC to help advance research on cancer.

Speaking to The CJN last month, Grafstein said he and his wife were moti- vated to create and give seed funding for the projects out of a desire to “neutral- ize academic anti-Semitism on university campuses” in Toronto.

“We have to fight political correct- ness,” Grafstein said. “The people who are arraigned against [Israel on university campuses] are hiding under the guise of academic freedom. Our battle starts at the university.”

Rami Kleinmann,    CHFU’s    national director, who was present at Grafstein’s office, said his organization was deeply indebted to the Grafsteins for their initia- tive. He added that he was determined to fight anti-Semitism on Canadian cam- puses and that as a result of these new projects, Hebrew U is now better positioned to do so.

“One of the ways we can combat anti- Semitism... is to partner with every Canadian university campus,” Kleinmann said, adding that this was the founding vision for CFHU.

“We’re trying to replace anti-Semitism with affinity,” Grafstein said.

Both Grafstein and Kleinmann spoke of the emerging global “knowledge economy” – the idea that knowledge is becoming viewed as a product that can be commercialized and capitalized on – and noted that universities will play a critical role in generating economic benefits for countries in the future.

“We wanted to make a shidduch between Israel and Canada on technology and [knowledge] transfer,” Grafstein said. He added that he’s also trying to drum up private and public local venture capital to help Israeli startups take root in Toronto.

Kleinmann said Hebrew U is currently in the top 10 of the world’s knowledge economies.

He said the university’s strategy, and Israel’s on the whole, is to expose itself to all comers, Jews and non-Jews alike, by offering what it now does best “and that’s in our knowledge. Our [hasbarah] track record over the years has been to attract sympathy for our country.

“But we’re in a new age. We now want to attract partners and investors who view Israel as a destination hub for large corporations. It’s about time for Jewish communities worldwide to support this endeavour.”

CFHU’s Evening of Movers and Shapers honouring Grafstein takes place on Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. at the Toronto Centre for the Arts. Steve Paikin, anchor of TVOs The Agenda, will host the gala and comedian Jackie Mason is scheduled to perform.

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CFHU is dedicated to supporting IMRIC through direct funding and by developing key collaborative medical research partnerships between Canada
and Israel.


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