Winnipeg Free Press Article: "Best of Hebrew U event coming to city"

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Winnipeg Jewry's relationship with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Israeli university that counts Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud among its founders, dates back 85 years to the university's inaugural dedication ceremony.

The dignitaries and onlookers who gathered on a dusty Mount Scopus for the ceremony in 1925 included Britain's Lord Arthur Balfour, Viscount Edmund Allenby and Dr. Chaim Weizman, as well as one Winnipegger, 44-year-old business leader and budding politician Max Steinkopf, who happened to be the first Jewish lawyer in Winnipeg.

Since that auspicious day, members of Winnipeg's Jewish community have remained strong supporters of Israel's oldest university, now an internationally renowned institution that boasts six Nobel Prize winners in the last decade and an enrolment of more than 23,000 students from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds from around the world.

Local support for the university is primarily channelled through the Winnipeg chapter of Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (CFHU), a national not-for-profit organization established in 1944 to promote the institution and provide it with financial support.

Throughout the year, the Winnipeg chapter sponsors several fundraising, promotional and educational events, most of them aimed at introducing Winnipeggers to the cutting-edge research being carried out by the university's elite academics. These lectures mainly focus on politics, medicine and biblical studies.

On Sunday, Oct. 24, all three of these topics will be covered at the Best of Hebrew U event, taking place at Balmoral Hall and open to the public.

"Best of Hebrew U is an opportunity to showcase the Hebrew University by exposing the public to professors who are experts in their fields," explains Faith Kaplan, chairwoman of the Winnipeg chapter of CFHU and one of about 100 Winnipeg alumni of the university's overseas program.

"Professors share their ongoing research in any number of fields and provide us with insight into the quality of work being done at the Hebrew University," she adds.

At the event, four visiting professors will give two lectures each on topics as diverse as game theory, the relationship between alcohol consumption and birth defects, and the relationship between civil liberties and national security in Israel.

Dr. Michael Segal, chairman of the Hebrew University's department of Bible, will provide the event's religious content with two separate lectures focusing on biblical interpretation -- The Writing on the Wall: Dream Interpretation in the Book of Daniel, and How the Dead Sea Scrolls Interpret the Bible.
Segal is the author of The Book of Jubilee: Rewritten Bible, Redaction, Ideology and Theology, and editor-in-chief of the Hebrew University Bible Project. The Bible Project is a decades-long research initiative that is in the midst of producing a first edition of a Hebrew Bible that reproduces in full the text of the Aleppo Codex.

Dating back to the ninth century AD, the Aleppo Codex is regarded as the oldest and most authoritative Masoretic manuscript of the Hebrew Bible. It was rescued from a synagogue in Aleppo, Syria, in 1948 when the synagogue was set ablaze following the new State of Israel's declaration of independence. It was brought to Israel 10 years later.

In his first lecture, Segal will focus on the Book of Daniel and the prophet's gift for interpreting dreams. In his second session, Segal will explore the significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

"The Dead Sea Scrolls are perhaps the most important archeological and textual discovery in the twentieth century," Segal explains. "We will mine this vast treasure trove of texts from the Judean Desert for those works that interpret the Bible and try to understand why these ancient texts are so significant for understanding the genesis of biblical exegesis."

Both lectures, like those of the other presenters, are expected to attract high school and university students, locally based academics and researchers and members of the Jewish and other faith communities.

"Best of Hebrew U is a rare opportunity for us to be in the presence of word renowned academics," says Kaplan, "and the audience reflects that."

The event is also an opportunity to observe up close the unique and enduring relationship that exists between Winnipeg's Jewish community and a most venerable institution, a relationship that began early last century when Max Steinkopf made the long voyage to Jerusalem to celebrate the university's official opening.

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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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