100 Alumni We Love - Mark Halpern

Reflections of my time at HU

By Mark Halpern, Toronto

I travelled for 6 months with my best friend after graduating high school and finally made it to Israel for the first time, arriving after being very sick in Egypt.  As was our custom, we adventurously boarded random city buses and had them take us wherever they went to discover new things.  Mazel would have it that we took the #9 bus and it landed on Mt Scopus where we saw a building with an English sign called The Rothberg School for Overseas Students.

We entered the building and heard everyone speaking English, all from countries around the world.  We found out that they were participating in the One Year Program.  Already in love with Israel, I made a personal vow at that time to attend in the coming years.  And two years later I arrived.

Attending Rothberg developed an incredible love of Israel, the land, the people and the diversity.  The social and academic activities on campus were some of the best days of my life and I developed friendships that endure to this day with chaverim from all over the world.

After falling deeper in love with Israel and more specifically Jerusalem, I was fortunate to return on many occasions as a tour guide, yeshiva student and as a married man having our first son born in Jerusalem.  I was also happy to be the founder of the Hebrew University’s New leadership alumni Board when I came back to Canada!

This fall, 3 of our 5 children will be studying in Israel and we hope to make aliyah one day soon.  Studying at Hebrew University provided me with substantial leadership tools that allowed me to assume important roles with many organizations in the diaspora.  I’m proud to say that choosing the One Year Program was one of the most important decisions I’ve ever made.

  • Mark is currently the CEO at WEALTHinsurance.com in Toronto.