"Outside of the classroom, particular highlights of the program for me were two of the field trips we did – to the Supreme Court and to the Knesset. Our visit to the Supreme Court happened on our very first day of the program, and the Court staff were happy to take time to answer our questions about the Israeli legal system, as well as provide us with a tour of the beautiful building. We met with Justice David Mintz, who told us about the types of cases he hears, and his professional pathway towards becoming a judge. I was particularly impressed by how he responded to some thorny questions from us – where he managed to respond to our questions respectfully and in detail while still maintaining his judicial professionalism and neutrality. At the Knesset, we had a staff member give us a tour, explain the symbolism of the huge Chagall painting in the hallway, and recount to us the political turmoil of 2019 – which involved multiple rounds of Knesset members not being able to form a governing coalition, and requiring the Israeli public to go to multiple elections.

Outside of all this, what I might value the most about Mishpatim is the people I met. We were a small group – sixteen students –  and being together every day in an intensive study regimen made us all get to know each other very quickly and well. We’ve all now shared an intense, yet fascinating experience together, and I’m hopeful this will form the basis for further friendships to come – plans for those of us who live in Melbourne to catch up for drinks are already underway."

Joseph Okraglik

Recipient of Scholarship for Hebrew University Mishpatim Program 2020

"My time spent at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem and Israel in general was nothing short of incredible. Although I had researched the course (‘Mishpatim’) and the university itself, I really was not sure of what to expect once I became a student. I had never travelled to Israel before and had a basic understanding of the current political climate. More importantly, I knew next to nothing about Israeli law. I knew the course would cover content regarding Israeli and International Law but I learnt so much more than I could have ever anticipated.

Personally, the best part of the program were all of the field trips organised. We were able to attend the Supreme Court, Knesset (Parliament), Yad Vashem (Holocaust Muesum), Tel Aviv, Masada and the Dead Sea. These provided a greater insight into the context surrounding the legal and political spheres in Israel and made the content we had learnt in the classroom, real.

I would like to sincerely thank the Australian Friends of the Hebrew University for providing me with a scholarship to be a student in the Mishpatim program. If it were not for these funds, I would never have had the opportunity to experience such a thought-provoking, inspiring and fascinating program. I will be forever grateful."

Alexia Mihalopoulos

Recipient of Scholarship for Hebrew University Mishpatim Program 2020

"In early January 2017, I left Melbourne for the three-week ‘Mishpatim’ course at Hebrew University. Mishpatim promised a focus on a perspective I had yet to experience—that of Israel—and an opportunity to immerse myself in the multicultural and complex city that is Jerusalem. It also, spiritually and emotionally, would be a special place to visit as a Christian.

Going to Israel, I was an outsider. Although I knew academically about the Middle East, I knew very little about the socio-economic and political domestic spheres in Israel. I knew no Hebrew, and only elementary Arabic. I am American. I am not Jewish. I had never been to Israel before. However, in one of our early classes on international law, our distinguished guest lecturer said “one thing that makes Israel unique in the international community is that everyone has an opinion on Israel.” 

As an outsider, I recognised in that lecture that this experience was an opportunity to embrace knowing very little, and to simply observe. That was uncomfortable. It was humbling. But, in a way, it was also empowering. It meant that I spent less time searching for affirmations of what I thought I knew, and more time asking questions. That space for curiosity enabled me to ask of our visit with Supreme Court Justice Daphne Barak-Erez how she felt coming to the Court not as a lawyer, but as an academic, and how her viewpoint as a woman on the Court differed from her male colleagues. That space for curiosity meant that I made time to go visit a women’s cooperative group providing schooling and social opportunities to children with disabilities in the Aida and al-Azzeh refugee camps outside Bethlehem (and learned to make maklouba!) That space for curiosity encouraged me to take a four-hour ‘Meet the Ultra-Orthodox’ tour with our guide Gitty, who showed me what power there is in simplicity and deep faith.

Most meaningfully for me, it was that space for curiosity that led me to ask in ourclass meeting with the father of a slain Israeli soldier and the wife of a slain Palestinian husband about how we should talk about our experience once we returned to Australia. Their response? ‘Learn everything that you can, and don’t take the conflict or any preconceived prejudices home.’ Embracing being an outsider was a challenge, but keeping my mind and my eyes wide open meant that I was able to experience fully at least a small part of the multi-cultural, multilingual, multi-religious community that is Jerusalem. Thanks to that, I left Jerusalem, and Israel, a more humble, introspective, and intellectually curious person than I arrived. For that, and for this opportunity, I am truly, truly grateful. And it is with considerable thanks to the Australian Friends of the Hebrew University and for making my participation in this experience possible."

Jennifer Keene

Recipient of Scholarship for Hebrew University Mishpatim Program 2017

"I am now a second-year law student at Murdoch University, Western Australia, and I had never left Australia before. I was extremely impressed with the delivery of the Mishpatim Law course, mainly from our lecturer Daniel Ohana, but also from the guest lecturers who gave us a broader view of the complexities of the legal and social issues in Israel and its surrounding nations. With such a polarized political state, I was not expecting the level of objective teachings and accounts that we received. I found the subject content extremely interesting, informative and engaging. As a law student who hopes to work for an international organisation, I really appreciated the dynamic perspectives from our lecturers. It opened my mind to how different cultures from different countries can view politics and international relations, which included both the positives and negatives of being a part of global co-operation.

The course also included field trips, all which were fantastic. I had a great time, met some amazing people, and it has inspired me to work towards a career on the international stage. I hope to become an ambassador someday, or at least a diplomat in Australia working towards fostering better relationships between countries. After studying Mishpatim in Israel, I am convinced that this is the area of work for me. Thank you again, for I would not have gained this amazing experience."

Justin Rudolf

Recipient of Scholarship for Hebrew University Mishpatim Program 2017

“While the program was only two weeks long, lecturers and speakers were impressive able to delve deeply into the broad ranging areas covered, delivering extensive insights from their varied backgrounds. Importantly, we were at all times given balanced views in both the academic contexts of the classroom and non-academic ones of the field trips. One of the main high lights of the visit to the Supreme Court, where we had the opportunity to speak with a sitting Justice. I would definitely recommend the course to others and would especially encourage IR in addition to Law Students to take part, as it’s readily accessible to those with a non-legal background."

Sam Taylor

Recipient of Scholarship for Hebrew University Mishpatim Program 2017

"Over January I visited Israel for the first time and studied a summer course at the Hebrew University called ‘Biblical Archaeology’. The subject spanned three weeks and provided an introduction to the archaeology of the land of Canaan and its surroundings over the Bronze and Iron ages. Previously I’d disregarded archaeology, holding the common misconception that everything that was important had already been found and that anything I myself might find as an archaeologist would be small and insignificant by comparison. However under the guidance of leading assyriologists and biblical archaeologists I studied architecture, pottery, and other remains – things I’d previously dubbed as less interesting than political texts. To my surprise I was given a great, and significantly, an unbiased insight into the political climate of the time and it really struck me how I could get such a personal look into someone’s mind from an object when I understood the meaning behind it. As a result of this experience I’m currently steering my studies more in the direction of archaeology and aiming to return to Israel in June to take part in my first archaeological dig.

I’d like to extend my deepest thanks to the Friends of the Hebrew University for providing me with a scholarship to go to Israel. Without these crucial funds I would not have been able to afford it and would never have been exposed to archaeology in the way that I have."

Lily Victoria Nash

Recipient of Scholarship for Hebrew University Biblical Archaeology Program 2017

"I am a mature-age student, having previously completed a PhD in Chemistry and worked as a scientist in the Australian Public Service. I am currently completing the Juris Doctor program at the University of New South Wales. I undertook the Mishpatim Seminar at the Hebrew University, which is a 60-hour intensive program on Israeli law conducted in English. I had high expectations for the program, which were vastly exceeded. The course was rigorous and comprehensive, addressing sociological and historical considerations in addition to black letter law. In addition to the rigour of the course material, the quality of teaching was outstanding. Guest lectures were interspersed throughout the course. We had the astounding honour of meeting with Justice Barak-Erez of the Supreme Court of Israel. The calibre of the student cohort was also outstanding, leading to many thought provoking discussions and debates outside class hours. These discussions and friendships rank highly amongst the many highlights of the course."

Richard Clements

Recipient of Scholarship for Hebrew University Mishpatim Program 2016

"I attended the summer program conducted by the Israel Centre for the Treatment of Psychotrauma for two weeks at the Rothberg International School with the generous support and funding from the Australian Friends of the Hebrew University and the Sir Zelman Cowen Universities Fund.

What I gained most from this summer course is something that I was neither prepared for nor expected and that is related to personal development in coming to terms with ‘trauma’, why I choose to work (and continue working) in this field and ‘a bit’ of self awareness. I believe many healthcare practitioners experience burn-out or compassion fatigue (which was my personal experience) due to lack of understanding, support and help to deal with their own issues, complex emotions, motivations and personal backgrounds.

The very ‘present-ness’ and connection of the course directors with the participants helped this process tremendously. It was also amazing that the participants (with diverse work and personal experiences) were able to come together as a group to learn, share and grow together. Overall for me, (I wouldn’t say it’s an overstatement, to say that) it has been a ‘life-changing’ experience. I believe this process of personal growth will help me in my work as a healthcare practitioner/researcher working with individuals with various types of ‘trauma’."

Dr Kumaran Ramakrishnan

2nd Year PhD Student John Walsh Centre for Rehabilitation Research (JWCRR) Sydney Medical School, Northern, The University of Sydney

"I arrived home a week ago from my travels, slowly getting used to the warm Melbourne weather! I just wanted to say thank you to the Australian Friends of the Hebrew University for such an amazing experience. It was absolutely brilliant. The course was so engaging and living in Jerusalem for 1 month was indescribable. I had such an amazing time and have made some great connections and friendships. I didn't want to leave Israel! I am currently looking into masters programs at the Hebrew University to hopefully continue my study in Israel in the near future.

Thank you again for such an invaluable experience. Please let me know if there's anything I can do support this program! It's such a great opportunity for Australian students."

Madaline Harris-Schober

Hons. Candidate | NASC Chairman 2017 University of Melbourne National Archaeology Student Conference
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