Alumni We Love

Reflections on My Time at Hebrew University

Dory Abelman, Toronto, Canada

Exploring Jerusalem with my friends Aviv and Zack. Here we explore a light show in the Old City.

Exploring Jerusalem with my friends Aviv and Zack. Here we explore a light show in the Old City.

When the student is ready, the teacher appears.

I came to study at Hebrew University for four weeks in July 2018, and again in July 2019. The idea to study there came to me by a kind representative of the university who travelled to where I was studying, Western University in London, Ontario, to give a presentation. Always curious to learn something new and go to new places, I attended.

I was fascinated by the scholarships available to students. On a strict budget and working throughout the year to support my expenses, travelling was not something I was accustomed to. How could I take a few weeks off from the time I needed to work to study aboard? Not only would I be losing money on the tuition and flights, but also on the time not spent working full time.

The Canadian Friends of Hebrew University Scholarship came to the rescue. Valued at $3,000, it was like a miracle to me. This was enough to pay the majority of my expenses required to study at Hebrew U. How fortunate I was to receive it. I worked extra hard during the year, saved up to be able to squeeze some weeks off work and got ready to go.

The experience would be life-changing.

The first time I arrived at Hebrew U, it was to study the Hebrew language. I greatly enjoyed the teachers, the learning style that promoted lots of discussion, and the kindness of the students. My favourite part of the experience was making new friends. We’d have lunch together, study together at the library and, of course, travel together.

Eating dinner together in Jaffa’s The Old Man and the Sea. What a delicious meal we shared with fresh fish, salads and great company next to the sea-breeze from the port just meters away. It was a pleasure to speak with the servers and learn about what it’s like to live here. We also practiced some Hebrew and Arabic. My friends are Khairy, Isaac, Liora, and Aviv.

Eating dinner together in Jaffa’s The Old Man and the Sea. What a delicious meal we shared with fresh fish, salads and great company next to the sea-breeze from the port just meters away. It was a pleasure to speak with the servers and learn about what it’s like to live here. We also practiced some Hebrew and Arabic. My friends are Khairy, Isaac, Liora, and Aviv.

It’s not every day that a student from Canada gets to have free time in a country 10,000 km away. With new cities to explore, museums to visit, locals to practice our Hebrew with and beaches to swim at, every free second was filled with adventure. Sometimes during the week, we’d race to do extra homework, catch up on all our studies and then after class, we’d disappear to Tel Aviv to swim at the beach and practice our Hebrew.

Late after sunset, we’d come back to the university and walk together to our dorms. Those days were so much fun. The sand still on our feet and in our hair, we’d sit together on a balcony of the Resnik dorms, talk about growing up in different parts of the world and eat fruits we bought from the market.

Jerusalem’s open market. I’ve never seen such a setup in Canada. We had such fun and spent so many hours sitting here. Above are my friends Isaac, Melanie, Ruben, Khairy and Lukas.

Jerusalem’s open market. I’ve never seen such a setup in Canada. We had such fun and spent so many hours sitting here. Above are my friends Isaac, Melanie, Ruben, Khairy and Lukas.

Jerusalem was like an open textbook waiting for us to discover. In the afternoons and evenings, you’d find us at museums, hiking on trails surrounded by major archeological sites or trying local foods. Every day was an adventure. Not just in what we saw, but also through our discussions with locals and our peers. It’s not every day you get to meet friends who grew up in different cities or countries.

Discovering the Babylonian Jewry Heritage Museum in Lod. I found this museum fascinating, describing a rich history of Babylon that I was yet to learn about. We had a guided tour with a museum archeologist, which I will always remember. Above are my friends Khairy, Isaac, Liora and Aviv, along with other guests who came to learn with us.

Discovering the Babylonian Jewry Heritage Museum in Lod. I found this museum fascinating, describing a rich history of Babylon that I was yet to learn about. We had a guided tour with a museum archeologist, which I will always remember. Above are my friends Khairy, Isaac, Liora and Aviv, along with other guests who came to learn with us.

A year later, I returned to Jerusalem to study international relations. Made possible by a scholarship, I returned to the campus I loved to learn about Israel and the Arab Spring. The course was fascinating. As a biology and health sciences major, everything was new to me. Through visiting major diplomatic sites, meeting leaders from the United Nations and other organizations, studying and talking to peers, my horizon broadened.

I’m extremely happy and grateful for my time spent learning at Hebrew U. My experiences there brought me friends and memories to last a lifetime.

I still have the taste of the delicious foods my friends and I ate together, lessons from the sites we visited together, and exhilaration from trails we hiked together. We are still in touch – the cohort from my program and year – and are looking forward to continuing growing our connection in the future.

Where does your curiosity drive you?

  • Dory Abelman is currently pursuing a graduate degree at the University of Toronto

Dory Abelman