Welcome to the Australian Friends of the Hebrew University's Alumni Association
The Hebrew University's Australian Alumni Association, in conjunction with the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and various Friends offices around the world, aims to provide opportunities for learning, networking and socialising for hundreds of Australian students after their return from Jerusalem.
We are working on strengthening ties with current students, and of course reconnecting alumni with friends, colleagues and teachers from years past. We plan to offer an array of events and activities in the near future.
It doesn't matter if you completed a program two weeks long or two years long. We want to hear from you today! To hear from others about their experiences at the school, click here.
So if you would like to get involved or would like more info please contact The Australian Friends of the Hebrew University on 02 9389 2825 or email us at
We are also trying to gather current details of all our alumni. Update your details now online!

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Alumni Spotlight


I had a wonderful time in Israel. It was exciting to be at the Hebrew University, which is such a special & interesting place and an impressive university. As I walked around I could feel the historic & symbolic significance of the university within the dreams of those who created the vision for Israel. My great grandparents, Morris & Celia Symonds, donated money to the establishment of HU in the 1920s & travelled to Israel for the opening in 1925. I felt a personal connection when I found a plaque acknowledging their contribution at the entrance to what was the main library & is now the law library.

The conflict resolution course had a range of excellent speakers, Jewish, Christian & Muslim, who are committed in one way or another to resolving conflicts & making Israel & the middle east a more peaceful & humane place. Some of the varied situations, which they discussed & had first hand experience of, included the day to day running of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre by several different & competing Christian churches, the capture & eventual release of Gilad Shalit, the siege of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, an international gathering of Mufti’s in Syria to speak about Islamic approaches to conflict resolution and the clashes between religious & civil law in Israel. The information that was given was quite dense & I think the course participants would have benefitted from more discussion time with each other & with the tutors to deepen our understanding of this information. I finished the course with many things to think about & feeling more optimistic about the possibilities for peace & the commitment to peace in Israel.

The Winter Ulpan was really good, The teachers were excellent & kept up an enthusiasm & intensity that kept me on my toes and allowed my Hebrew to improve dramatically. I was so pleased, towards the end of the ulpan, to be able to listen to a lecture about the history of the alphabet, all in Hebrew, & to be able to understand pretty much all of it. The rest of the students in my class were in their 20s & the teaching was directed towards that age group, so perhaps a class with more people in my 50s age group would have been better for me, but I enjoyed being the class mother & had a lovely group of young fellow students to study with.

I loved the Maiersdorf Faculty Club where I stayed and the staff there, especially Danielle Keduri, looked after me very well.

I cannot thank AFHU enough for facilitating this wonderful once in a lifetime opportunity & I am sure I will use all that I have learnt in the Reconciliation work I do in Sydney in the Jewish & Indigenous Australian communities.


Only one word really sums up my experience at the Hebrew University Winter Ulpan; Amazing! Even though I had been to Israel a number of times before doing ulpan and spending a whole month in Jerusalem and living with other students on campus was a totally different and unique experience.

The most important part of ulpan was of course the lessons. Learning Hebrew for 4 ½ hours every day seems exhausting but the reality was comepletely different. The teachers were of high quality, really fantastic and knew how to get the class engaged. In addition they were friendly and warm which made the whole classroom environment a great place to be. The classess also included some tours of the campus, a talk about Jerusalem architecture and a sing-a-long!

The other students also made the experience. It was great meeting people from all over the world. Being from Australia you’re in the minority, but it’s better that way because you’re forced to make new friends. I made friends from Switzerland, USA, UK and of course became even closer to the people from Australia. When you live, learn, eat and find your way around Jerusalem with others for a whole month, by the end you feel like you’ve known them a year.

It sounds like a cliché but it’s true that going on Ulpan is really amazing, and the best thing I’ve ever done. I learnt so much from the teachers and has such an amazing time with the people that I met. I encourage everyone to go to ulpan (even if it has nothing to do with what you’re studying!) because I can guarantee it’ll be AMAZING!


The Hebrew University Winter Ulpan was an excellent and highly enjoyable experience. The intensive month-long program provided me with the opportunity to rapidly improve my Hebrew skills. The lessons were varied, utilising a variety of different teaching methods including lecturers and campus tours conducted in Hebrew. While the lessons were challenging and the pace is rapid, the workload is manageable. The opportunity to live in Jerusalem for a short period of time was an added bonus. The markets, cafes, buses, shops and streets of Jerusalem were a fantastic second classroom!


My time at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem was a very worthwhile experience. The classes were stimulating and challenging. The teachers were great. The classes moved at a fast pace and everyone seemed to have a serious approach to their learning. The size of the class allowed the teachers to provide attention to all of the students; there wasn’t one time I felt like I was being ignored.

I met people from across the world and from so many different walks of life. Each day during our lunch break students from all different courses ate in the cafeteria which made meeting people simple and easy. The age of the students ranged from 17-60. There were some really fun activities put on by the Madrichim, who were a very welcoming bunch that made settling in and feeling at home no task at all.


Winter ulpan, for me, was a really incredible and extraordinary experience. I am really suprised that this four-week program had such an impact on me.I really gained a lot of knowledge – whether it was from learning the Hebrew language, the stories of the people I got to know, the organised excursions or my own adventures.

My adventure was made extra special by the amazing Hebrew teachers, without whom, my level of Hebrew would not have improved as much as it did! Staying in the student village of the Hebrew University was awesome. I got to know more about the country and its students. I had the opportunity of meeting people from all around the world – Russia, America, Switzerland, France – and we are still in touch today! It is the most phenomenal feeling to be in a classroom, in Eretz Yisrael, with students from all over the world, speaking one language.

The Winter Ulpan is sort of like a mini exchange program and I am so tempted to repeat it as it was really fun and educational. I don’t live on campus, so it was a great opportunity to experience this aspect of university life. Now I am much better prepared for the upcoming Hebrew course that I will be completing this semester. The Ulpan will remain an integral part of my experience as a student


What a delight it was to visit Israel for the first time! The history, culture and people all make for a unique stay in the Middle East. The country is diverse and has loads of stuff to interest tourists and travelers alike.

To be provided with the opportunity to participate in training on trauma and resilience at the Hebrew University was an opportunity for which I am very grateful. The University is a professionally run institution. I found the on-campus accommodation comfortable and safe. The staff of the Rothberg
International School was very well organised and extremely helpful. I would commend them on their attention to detail in ensuring our needs were met.

The presenters involved in the course are well versed in the nature of trauma and resilience from a research and clinical perspective. Their dedication to their profession and clients was apparent from the beginning of our training.

During the course I met professionals from five different countries: Mexico, Colombia, America, Canada and Australia. We formed a collegial group and socialised on weekends, when the course finished, and we remain in contact today.

One of the highlights of the course included the site visits, where we had the opportunity to talk with fellow professionals in the field.

I plan to continue working in the field of trauma and would love to implement some of the knowledge acquired in working with the more vulnerable populations of my local community.


I would like to express my appreciation for the opportunity to have been involved in the Trauma and Resilience Course at Rothberg University. The course was very engaging, informative and it provided contemporary research and knowledge in the area. The course presented a range of opportunities some as an entry point for more involvement and others as an opportunity to gain a deeper knowledge. The lecturers were stimulating, entertaining and impressive role models in the field of Trauma and Resilience.

The range and diversity of the Trauma area covered and presented was appreciated and was complemented with the field trips which gave us a wonderful insight into the amazing programs that are implemented, a fabulous opportunity to meet the people and view the active ongoing projects.

The whole experience was enriching and well supported with the International Conference, which added a rich dimension to the entire course. The conference complemented the lectures and provided a rich diversity of current research and directions in the field of trauma and resilience.

At the time it was quite intense and I felt like I would take some time before I assimilated all the information an experiences provided. I have certainly utilized the teachings in my current practise and have appreciated the invaluable information taught that has transferred to my psychological work in Australia and enriched my skills and knowledge.

The course not only offered academic opportunities it enabled participants to be able to live in the Israeli culture, meet, mix and live with people from Israel and other cultures and it provided a unique opportunity to learn and experience a very welcoming and hospitable Israeli life. The whole experience with the academic opportunity linked to the historic nature and rich cultural heritage unlike anywhere in the world was truly an amazing experience which I will treasure as one of the highlights of my life and certainly provided me with insights I would not have achieved without having had this involvement with the Hebrew University.

Thank-you once again for this valued experience, which I would highly recommend to others with an interest in this field.


Miri Jassy studied for one semester at The Hebrew University Rothberg International School on the British-Australian Semester Program (BASP). The following contains useful day to day information for the international student studying at Hebrew University.

Living in Jerusalem means total immersion. One emerges with a wider scope of what things mean.

All travellers to Jerusalem experience to some degree the spiritual power of the city. Foreign students, BASPers included, are in a vulnerable position as they are travellers susceptible to the political and religious views of their teachers, past and present. It is important for BASPers to approach Jerusalem and Israel with an open mind so that the spirituality they hope to achieve or at least encounter is not hampered by what they have been taught is the “correct” interpretation of Judaism or Israel’s political situation. Living in Jerusalem for half a year means appreciating the multiplicity of ideas and possibilities that result from her diverse social landscape.

Every visitor to Jerusalem experiences their own personal journey towards spiritual enlightenment , which does not always refer superficially to becoming more or less “religious”. My own spirituality was activated but in ways too precious for words. Instead of attempting to verbalise my obscure emotional connection to Jerusalem, I’ll discuss the lighter side of the city and student life.

Accommodation at Hebrew University, situated on Mount Scopus and neighbouring East Jerusalem, is a vantage point travellers dream about. The view of the old city from the roof of the Hecht Synagogue is breathtaking.

Living on campus, in the Resnick dorms, is a bonus for BASPers- many American students share apartments in other suburbs and have to time their body-clocks to the erratic Egged bus schedule to get to class on time.

BASPers have little more than to roll out of bed and snarf some “kinamonim” (addictive cinnamon cereal) before walking the short distance to “Rothberg Junior High” (the Rothberg International School).

Rooms sleep two, officially. Depending on how you arrange the minimalist furniture, friends can sleep over comfortably. Chances are you won’t be paired up with a fellow BASPer- dorms are scarce enough for Israeli students as it is. Don’t be scared! Sharing with a non-BASPer is a great way to meet people outside the program.

The kitchens are spartan and encourage simple cooking in the way of stir-fry and pasta. Sharing with the rest of your floor turns the kitchen into a hub of activity, so if you can’t wait, there are three felafel places which line the street opposite Idelson dorms near the Hyatt Hotel, which is a block down from Resnick. The first one looked a bit suss and the second one was so good I never went further up the hill to the third.

Laundry is easily taken care of by the long-haired laundry guy in the basement of building 3 at Resnick, although it is advisable to wash precious things by hand. Another laundry is up the road at Idelson or there’s a DIY at nearby French Hill. Or, my favourite, the funky coin-op on Hillel Street in the city-centre conveniently located next-door to Mr Li’s Chinese eatery.

Transport to and from Mount Scopus is decent and sometimes adventurous. The 9 bus is the most common way to get to the city centre, as is the 9-aleph. Avoid the 4-aleph!! Especially on a Friday morning- it will take up to an hour as it travels through ultra-orthodox neighbourhoods jammed with cars and human traffic. It is an interesting drive any other time. Be warned- it can take longer on the 4-aleph getting from Mount Scopus to Ben Yehuda Mall than it takes to get from Jerusalem to Tel-Aviv. The 23-aleph is the king of all busses- it takes the most direct and scenically interesting route, through Arab neighbourhoods and past the Damascus gate of the old city, and has you on Jaffa Road opposite the Underground nightclub (where you will go once and quickly leave) in record time.

Shop at Machaneh Yehuda. This thrilling market place will tempt you week after week with pita bread, cheeses, olives, dips and fresh produce. The meat’s a bit dicey and the fish is still flapping, but the pastries at “Marzipan” bakery will get you in the end when your backpack is bulging with purchases. Stock up at the market on any domestic items you need from slippers to frying pans to cutlery. Also try and bargain the price down on a good pillow, as the Resnick pillows are thin as pita.

La Dolce Vita living the good life in Jerusalem isn’t hard if that’s how you want to spend your shekels. Cafes, bars and restaurants are plentiful.

Anywhere on Emek Refaim Street is bound to be a treat, and the groovy outdoor bar at the Smadar cinema offered two for one beers during the world cup soccer games.

Ten minutes away by foot is Jerusalem’s haven for the film buffs, the Cinematek. Students are advised to get an annual pass if they stay on in Jerusalem after BASP. The Cinematek provides everything from mainstream to arthouse, classics to contemporary Israeli cinema. Plus there’s the trendy restaurant downstairs which is worth it for the well groomed waiters and gourmet food but only if you can get an outside table with it’s incomparable view of the old city walls.

For the vegetarians there’s the well-established Village Green restaurant but try the lesser-known branch, off King George Street, in its picturesque setting of stone walls and courtyard rather than its sister location on Bustling Ben Yehuda Midrechov (pedestrian mall).

For the clubbers there are the favourites in East Talpiyot such as Haamon 17. Pre-drinks at Resnick’s dinky Club 11 are advisable as well as a pre-organised transport/entry fee package to avoid being stuck in Talpiyot at dawn, cabless.

For hot beverages in cosy atmosphere, the Bookstore Cafe (Tmol Shilshom) is unbeatable. It has grown even more popular since the closing of the infamous Teahouse in recent years. Also downtown is the tiny Yemenite Jachnunya selling delicious doughy Jachnun – it’s located in a tiny alley somewhere between Henry’s Crepes and Tmol Shilshom. Another hidden gem is restaurant Shanty serving Asian-inspired meals mainly to Israelis over twenty-one. It is classy and dimly-lit.

Read the extraordinary novel by Tom Robbins “Skinny Legs and All” in which all the characters end up in Jerusalem. To be read in the Judean hills where you “can’t tell the sheep from the rocks”.

Think Israel, think Jerusalem and you have a rucksack-full of cliches – felafel, camels, Hebrew Beatles t-shirts and bus-drivers with a grand-prix complex. Fortunately, Jerusalem is as colourful as the Machaneh Yehuda market and as mysterious as the silent stones of her ancient ramparts once circumnavigated by Mark Twain in one hour.

Being a part of BASP entitles you to the freedom to come to your own religious or political conclusions, should you be lucky enough to resolve these issues in half a year. This freedom to decide is handy in a city where opinions often dominate the individual. BASP will give you the keys to the city, if you are prepared to delve into what lies locked in the heart of Jerusalem.



Before I begin, I would like to pay my respects to the traditional Wurundjeri caretakers of the land. It is a great privilege to walk on Woi Wurung land and the peoples of the Kulin nation.

I would also like to acknowledge our guest speakers, Mr Hawke and Professor Guttfreund.

I would also like to acknowledge Lady and Sir Zelman Cowen; Sam Lipski and the Magid and the Castan families.

I would also like to thank Robert Simons, Aubrey Miller and the Australian Friends of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for presenting me with the Ron Castan Memorial Indigenous Scholarship.

Finally, distinguished guests, it is an honour to be here tonight; and I thank you all for inviting me.

By the way, from here on I’m going to use the word ‘Koori’. For those of you who don’t know what it means, it’s the word referring to Aboriginal people used by the NSW & Victorian mob. Different tribes use different languages, so the word differs from area to area.

I’m from the Worimi people in Port Stephens.

My father is Chinese; and my mother is Koori. Most of my upbringing & culture is with my mother and grandmother and my extended Koori family – particularly the women. I am fortunate to have had the opportunity and will to aspire to a Medical career.

When I compare this to my mother’s life; although she may have had the will, she had less opportunity; and despite her strength of personality probably faced frank discrimination and maltreatment. Despite the adversities she and my family faced, as a single parent she was able to instill much pride and determination in myself and my siblings. My mother worked fulltime shift work as a registered nurse whilst raising us, and still managed to be an active community leader and is an inspirational role model for me.

Like most Koori people, I came from a poor background & this of course is one of the biggest barriers to overcome in pursuing medical studies, or any tertiary education for that matter, as an option for a career. My second biggest barrier was not to lose confidence in myself & maintain my determination in the face of pervasive racism across generations, country and within the wider community.

From the moment we enter this world, we have a society that looks down upon Kooris & we are at the bottom of every social indicator as shown time again by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The erosion of our self-esteem is accelerated during our school years. The system is such that it is difficult to succeed in education, which in turn affects employment opportunities, therefore we have a lower standard of living, our health suffers, our kids are reared in not the best of conditions, so they do poorly, and so the viscious cycle propagates.

This may sound like a broken record. It is my reality.

From the time I matriculated from secondary school to university studies, my training has been in the medical field. I gained my medical degree at the University of Sydney then entered the governmental hospital system for 4 years of clinical experience. A few of these years were spent at Royal Darwin Hospital with a large part of that time spent in paediatrics. I also undertook extra studies in family planning. It was during this time that I applied to General Practice training and commenced training in this field.

Stepping into General Practice, I spent one full year in an Aboriginal Medical Service in Darwin, Northern Territory .

After gaining my Fellowship of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, I went onto gaining special skills in Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Advanced Life Support.

Since then, I decided to work overseas with a humanitarian organization – Medicines Sans Frontieres, which took me to South Sudan and Sierra Leone in Africa . I found the experience very life enrichening and rewarding but also challenging.

It was during my time overseas that I decided that studying a Masters in Public Health was necessary to continue work in such a crucial and much needed area. Significant improvements in health comes from changes in social policy, infrastructure and systemic changes. There’s only so much that can be done on a one-to-one clinical basis.

Currently I work in General Practice at several different places including Awabakal Aboriginal Health Service. I also have undertaken a part-time Senior Lecturer position at University of Newcastle , teaching 4th year Medical students on Aboriginal Paediatric Health.

When working with Medicines Sans Frontieres in Africa , I not only enjoyed imparting medical aid, but enjoyed learning and living amongst a different culture. Also seeing the plight of other suffering indigenous cultures, has helped me in a lot of ways to see Australia and its Indigenous problems from a different global and modern perspective. I learnt a lot about the health delivery given by a humanitarian organization in a 3 rd world country, and could not help ponder at why in a first world country like Australia, is indigenous health still so poor?

As those of you with medical careers know, it is a lifetime of learning. I am sure that undertaking this epidemiological year of study will help to improve my understanding of population health, for the betterment of Australia ‘s indigenous population.

I am also looking forward to learning and living in yet another different culture; an ancient and complex culture with a long and strong cutural people who have spiritual and religious connection to their land, similar to my own people. Israel , no doubt, will be an enrichening experience in so many ways for me.

I hope to follow a research path upon completion of my MPH studies; especially in the area of Australian Indigenous Health where there is so much need.

Thank you for keeping a sense of compassion and hope; and for fueling the power of the will against all odds and adversity.


The following is a note from Dr Alex Brown, inaugural recipient of the Indigenous People’s Scholarship for the undertaking of a Masters in Public Health at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Thank you for your help in getting me here. I thought you may like to know how I am. I must admit there have been a few moments of moderate anxiety and concern with the occasional terror attack, and the obvious diplomatic problems in the region following Iraq’s unwillingness to continue to conform to UN weapon inspections, but on the whole my stay has been both exciting and comfortable.

This will be an extremely busy year as they virtually fit a two-year course into a one-year period. We are very lucky to have such experienced and well regarded lecturers here (I have even read some of their publications during my studies). After this year I may be the most qualified aboriginal doctor in Australia (well maybe) and that puts me in a position of great responsibility for my people. We will cross that bridge when we come to it.

I know that I have a very strong base of support amongst the Australian Jewish community.

I have found that not only is Israel the geographical centre of the world, but it is also the centre ideologically, culturally and spiritually. There seems to be no such thing as a calm disagreement, all arguments are passionate and florid. Even when haggling over the price of fruit in the Old City, the louder I argue, the cheaper the goods. It’s quite liberating really.

I have spent some time talking with many locals, especially after the last two terrorist attacks. It seems the wear and tear of continual fear, and the realisation that awful things can and do happen manifests itself as great intensity. The problem is, so many feel the pain of violence and it has been difficult to come to terms with this for an Australian with little understanding of war and conflict.

I must thank you all for this wonderful opportunity to travel to the most fascinating place I have ever visited. I am sure the things I will gain from this year will stand me in good stead for the years ahead.

This tremendous sign of brotherhood and love, will no doubt strengthen the ties between the Jewish and Aboriginal communities that people have worked hard to forge. It should stand as a shining example to all Australians that without the support and care of us all, we may never be able to overcome the injustices in our community.

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