Alumni for Ever
What do Ruvi Rivlin, Yaacov Neeman, Ephraim Halevy, Aharon Barak, and Gabriela Shalev have in common? What common denominator connects Shimon Mizrachi, Adi Kol, Dov Khenin, Naftali Bennett, and Ram Oren? And what about Daniel Friedman, Ruth Gabison, Dorit Beinisch, and Eli Moyal? If you need a clue, just look at the title of this article.
- Sapir Dayan -
The alumni of the Faculty of Law at the Hebrew University are everywhere, it seems. Many of our graduates can today be found among the decision-making echelon of Israeli public life; many others occupy key positions in the nation’s economic and commercial life. For decades, Faculty graduates have filled senior positions in every conceivable field – presidents and prime ministers, Supreme Court justices and social activists, businesspeople and leading lights in the cultural sphere.
Two Faculty alumni decided to bring together this powerful group of individuals under a single roof: The Alumni Club of the Faculty of Law at the Hebrew University. Amir Luzon and Gil Pacht, the two alumni who founded the club, explain their initiative: “Faculty alumni form part of the elite of Israeli society, and many of them work in key positions. Encouraging interaction and connections among the alumni can help spark social or commercial cooperation to the benefit of Israeli society and the graduates themselves. Our goal is to provide a platform that can help the alumni to grow, to support each other, and, of course, to develop and empower Israeli society. In other countries, any self-respecting faculty has an alumni organization that runs diverse activities and encourages networking. So far, such organizations haven’t really been established in Israel. Our aim is to be like the alumni organizations in other countries, that organized alumni meetings and develop a long-term tradition.”
One of the projects that Luzon and Pacht are currently planning is called Alumni at the Bar. The idea is to expose recent graduates to veteran alumni who can tell them about their lives and experiences. A meeting is due to take place shortly between alumni and Prof. Gabriela Shalev (who is herself a graduate of the Faculty). The meeting will offer alumni a chance to hear about her life, her experience as Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, her views regarding the world of law, and any other aspects they find interesting. Subsequent meetings will also provide an encounter with alumni who now occupy key positions in the commercial and political realms.
One of the projects that Luzon and Pacht are currently planning is called Alumni at the Bar. The idea is to expose recent graduates to veteran alumni who can tell them about their lives and experiences. A meeting is due to take place at July 30 between alumni and Prof. Gabriela Shalev (who is herself a graduate of the Faculty) in Tel Aviv. The meeting will offer alumni a chance to hear about her life, her experience as Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, her views regarding the world of law, and any other aspects they find interesting. Another meeting is scheduled to October 15 with former Supreme court judge Ms. Dalia Dorner (who is also a faculty alumni) in Jerusalem. Subsequent meetings will also provide an encounter with alumni who now occupy key positions in the commercial and political realms. In addition, in the past few weeks the Alumni club has worked on a special and free offer for the faculty's alumni with Codex. Further details will soon be published.
Another intriguing project that is still being developed is a mentoring program whereby veteran alumni of the Faculty will “adopt” graduates who are just starting out on their professional path. The project will focus mainly on peripheral areas of Israel, reflecting the club’s social agenda and its desire to work for the good of Israeli society. “Over the years, the Faculty and its alumni have been partners in shaping Israeli identity, Israeli society, and Israeli law. The Faculty has an unparalleled record in terms of the number of alumni who have reached key public positions. These alumni have created a legal tradition that embodies certain values. They have taken these values with them to the positions they fill, and we believe it is important to preserve this tradition.”
Where did you get the ideas for the activities from? What was your source of inspiration?
“We hold brainstorming meetings with volunteers, study how alumni clubs operate in other countries, and examine the services provided by similar bodies. We contacted our alumni overseas to learn what is on offer there and what’s missing here in Israel. We are trying to meet the needs of the alumni in the best possible way. We put a lot of thought into each project or new idea in order to respond to the needs of as many alumni as possible,” explains Nuphar Gafny, the club’s executive director.
The Alumni Club is a registered association established by Gil and Amir, based on an idea they formulated while they were active in the student union. After completing the formal process of establishing the club with the Registrar of Associations, they founded a website. Later, volunteers joined the club, Nuphar was appointed executive director, and a board was elected. In addition to Gil and Amir, the board members include Professor David Gliksberg, the Faculty representative, and Mr. Shai Beltz, who represents today’s students – tomorrow’s alumni.
How have people reacted to the initiative?
“The Faculty supported the initiative and continues to be very supportive. The Faculty itself is increasingly planning activities that facilitate interaction with alumni. Today people realize how important this is. This is our objective – to create synergy between the activities of the Alumni Club and the Faculty’s programs so that the alumni will have the strongest possible connection to the institution that imbued them with their values. The alumni themselves have reacted very positively and the response rate is impressive. We already have around 850 members just from the preliminary registration stage. We attended reunions of the classes of 1984 and 2004 and saw people who hadn’t met for 10 or 30 years hugging each other and chatting as if they’d just left the Faculty. People at the reunions told us that it’s a pity that there aren’t more meetings and more opportunities for interaction between friends.”
It does not cost anything to join the Alumni Club and the club does not charge membership fees. Gil, Amir, and the other members do not receive a salary and work on a purely voluntary basis. “We are doing this out of a sense of gratitude for everything the Faculty has given us,” Gil and Amir explain. We are providing this platform free of charge. Come along and join us – be part of this important project! Almost every international academic institution has this kind of club. We urge all the alumni to take part in our activities, and encourage everyone to contribute in any way they can, whether by running activities, raising funds for the programs, or helping the club to grow. We promise that every shekel invested in the club will go to the activities themselves. We want to develop activities to help society at large, to preserve our legal heritage, and to hold reunions and meetings.” Executive director Nuphar Gafny adds: “From my perspective, the club will be successful if in a few years it is well established and well known, and if alumni use it to help each other. I’m sure we’ll manage to establish a brand of Faculty alumni and to use our strength for all kinds of goals to advance ourselves and to help society at large. The more of us there are, the more we can give.”
As I chatted with Gil, Amir, and Nuphar, the first though that came into my mind – as it does every time I encounter a positive and obvious idea – was “how come no-one thought of it before?!” Be that as it may, the club exists now, and all that’s left is for us to join this important initiative. You can register through the following link:http://law-alumni.org
Amir Luzon and Gil Pacht