From Jerusalem To Winnipeg

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Jewish Post and News header - From Jerusalem to Winnipeg

Shai Josopov and Sigal Kleynerman, the new Hebrew University Community AmbassadorsAllow us to introduce ourselves: We are Sigal Kleynerman and Shai Josopov and we are the new Hebrew University “Community Ambassadors”. For the past month or so, we have been living with you, here, in the Jewish community in Winnipeg (on Lanark Street, if anyone wants to visit).

We’ve been learning about your community, its past, its present, its hopes and dreams for the future and about the highs and lows this wonderful community has been through.

We know that we’ve only scratched the surface, as each day we learn new names, see new faces and hear new stories - your stories… stories that tell us how much you love this city and how deep your roots here run.

We’ve also heard many stories about the well-known ‘Winnipeg winter’ which, we have come to know, is synonymous with temperature so cold, even people in Russia would say, “Wow buddy, that’s cold!”

While listening to all your stories, we heard many of you describing your connection to and love for Israel… of unforgettable visits, of wanting to visit again… of different adventures in Israel and all the different peoples and cultures that make the place which we call home unique.

However different those stories have been, they all had one thing in common: Jerusalem. In every story we heard, the name Jerusalem kept coming up over and over again - like an ancient echo from the past, always accompanied by a nostalgic and blissful smile, as each storyteller described his or her favorite place there.

Each time we heard one of you describe your love for Jerusalem we were amazed how deeply this city has touched so many of your hearts. Even though both of us come from the north of Israel, where summer is filled with the fragrance of olive trees and flowers, followed by rainy, rejuvenating winters, we too, feel the same about our holy capital city - a city which welcomed us not only as citizens, but also as students at Israel’s best university which, so fittingly, sits atop Mt. Scopus. The Hebrew University on Scopus overlooks the Old City and reminded us of our past while we were studying to create a new future for Israel and for the Jewish people worldwide.

Although we arrived in Jerusalem at different times, we both remember, and occasionally talk about, arriving there for the first time - of the impression it left on us once we set foot there. To anyone who has ever been there, the Hebrew University immediately has a rare aura that is evident in only a handful of academic and research institutions in Israel.

The walls, decorated with the names and pictures of different Jewish and Israeli Nobel Prize laureates (many of whom walked those very halls) resonate in the minds of every student. “Will I be the next one? Will my face be the next one to sit with the others here on these walls?” are thoughts that cross every student's head as they walk the halls of the university.

It is when we, ourselves, walked those halls that we realized how lucky we were to be a part of the long, fruitful and world-changing history the university has had - a history that tells the story how one institution, established in 1925 by some of the greatest minds of the Jewish world back then, such as Sigmund Freud, Martin Buber, and Albert Einstein, was able to stay ahead of its time and, in an always innovative and ground-breaking way, was able to change the world at so many levels. From revolutionary agricultural research, that enabled technology used worldwide to turn arid lands into fertile soil, to medical discoveries that help mankind overcome obstacles for health and longevity, the Hebrew University has been among the world’s foremost educational institutions.

The university also houses a prestigious law school which, throughout the years, has graduated a number of students who went on to become Supreme Court judges who helped shape Israel's moral fiber. The Hebrew University has always been at the forefront of so much groundbreaking research, and has become a beacon of innovation, excellence, and progress.

It's this story that we are here to tell - a story which you, the fine members of Winnipeg Jewish community, have shared with the university, connecting you with Freud, Buber, and Einstein. For, as we were told by those who are wiser and more experienced than us, this story has roots as old as the State of Israel itself, dating back to 1948, when the Winnipeg chapter of the Canadian Friends of Hebrew University was opened, intertwining the Jewish community of Winnipeg and the Hebrew University in a never-ending story of success, Zionism and progress. It is that support which enabled students such as us, to look up at that mountain, standing tall atop Jerusalem, and dream of the day when we would take part in turning the world into a better place - just like all those faces on the walls who welcomed us throughout our years of study at the Hebrew University.

Now, as the new Jewish year dawns upon us, we welcome you to join us as we write the next chapter in the history of the Winnipeg Jewish community and the Hebrew University - a new chapter, beginning now, with you and us, as we build upon the great relations of the past, to once again, create a world-changing future, one in which we hope you will take a major part.

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