Who am I? Lena Mahula
The facts: Lena was born in St. Petersburg, Russia to a Russian-Christian father and an Arab-Christian mother from Kafr Yasif in the Galilee. Her parents met in Russia, and when she was five the family moved to Israel and settled in Kibbutz Ayalot. Later they moved to Haifa. “Although I wasn’t required to perform military service and they didn’t send me a draft, I decided to perform national-civilian service after completing my studies,” Lena explains. “I wanted to be like my classmates who were all giving several years of their life to the country. I don’t think I’m any different from other Israeli citizens.”
Since Lena had always loved children and was interested in medicine, she decided to perform her service in the Pediatric Oncology department at Rambam Hospital in Haifa. “Despite the tragic circumstances, I saw real solidarity and fellowship in the department – between Arabs and Jews, immigrants and tourists, religious and secular people. Everyone shared the same sorrow and supported each other without any exceptions. I felt that I was helping, and I was able to communicate with families from the Territories who only spoke Arabic.” During her period of service, Lena also competed in the national beauty contest in 2012, winning second place.
Why law? “Everyone asks me that! Everyone who knew me was always certain that I would study medicine, like my parents, and a lot of people were really surprised when I decided to choose a completely different field.” Lena says that she chose the Hebrew University mainly because she has always wanted to be the best at anything she does. “I couldn’t allow myself to study somewhere that was less than excellent,” she claims. “Another reason was that I wanted to be independent and live on my own, without my parents’ supervision.” Two months after beginning her studies, Mahula found herself traveling to Las Vegas to compete in the Miss Universe contest. She confesses that studying law while working at the same time was far from easy: “It wasn’t easy for me to catch up after being away for a month. As soon as I returned to Israel I had to complete a huge amount of material from all the courses.” After thinking things over, Lena decided to take a break from her modeling work and devote herself entirely to her studies. “I told myself that as soon as the pressure eased up a bit I would start modeling again. Today I am managing for the first time to combine studies, work, and modeling.” Lena sees her modeling work as no more than a temporary job. “As you get older, younger models with more up-to-date fashions come along. You get thrown to one side and left without work,” she explains. “Modeling is just a phase; academic studies and a degree are forever.”
A second hearing: Law studies have been a milestone in Lena’s professional and personal life. She explains that for the first time she has begun to understand who she is and what her opinions are on various issues. “I’ve worked out a more consistent approach to various issues, from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the legalization of soft drugs,” she says. She also reveals that she has become a feminist: “I’ve started using the feminine pronoun more and believing in women’s power. In particular, I believe that women need to push themselves forward and built their own education and successful careers.” Lena has always believed in self-motivation, but she claims that her law studies have opened her eyes to the sexism and chauvinism that are prominent in the world. “I would like to set an example through my actions for women from disadvantaged populations – particularly the Arab population, since I am Arab. In my national service, in the beauty contests, in my studies, and in securing good jobs, I have always wanted to prove that as Arab women we can achieve wonderful things if only we believe in ourselves.”
Who am I? Vala Weintraub
The facts: Alongside her law studies, Vala is also participating in a project run by the Rothschild Caesarea Foundation, which established the Rothschild Ambassadors program in order to develop a network of interdisciplinary and involved leaders in Israel who are committed to influencing the situation and to social responsibility. “The activities include weekly training sessions in group settings. We also have to work on a social project that we establish from scratch, based on the specific needs of the city where we live,” Vala explains.
In Jerusalem, Vala and her colleagues decided to establish a project focusing on employment among Haredim and among Arabs in the East of the city. The project, which they call “Compass for Employment,” seeks to provide specialist training in the public sector for Haredi and Arab third-year students. “We provide content that helps make employment more accessible, including interview workshops, meetings with employment consultants, and so forth,” she adds.
Why law? Vala says that she wanted to study law at the Hebrew University because she had heard that this was the best faculty in Israel. Apart from the professional aspects, she says that she found Jerusalem charming and loved living in the city. “And I still do! I even found an internship position here and didn’t run off to Tel Aviv like everyone else,” she jokes.
A second hearing: Vala is not only committed to the social rights of human beings. She has also been an animal rights activist since the age of 14 in various organizations. “When I was younger I was very involved and I even organized demonstrations by myself. Today my main activity is writing to Members of Knesset to support or oppose various propose laws, distributing materials, and of course making a monthly donation.” Animal rights is a growing field around the world. Vala feels that this is directly related to her law studies: “In the final analysis, a lot of problems are due to the current legal situation. Many of the biggest campaigns in Israel in the field of animal rights have been about legislation. One example is the force-feeding of geese, which has now been outlawed.” She claims that the obvious analogy between human rights and animal rights is recognized all the time, including in informal discussions about issues such as veganism. “I think that some day soon there will be a course on animal rights. I’m glad to say that the awareness of this issue in Israel has grown considerably, and people are starting to make the connection between harm to animals and our own ability to change the situation.”
Who am I? Gavriel Bayu
The facts: Gavriel was born in Jerusalem but lived abroad for several years. In 2008, when he was just 21, he opened his own advertising agency. “My clients included the municipality, Berman and Angel bakeries, and maybe half the restaurants and cafes in the city,” he recalls. While most of his classmates are preoccupied by tests and projects, Gavriel is already involved in the real world of business. “I sold my local client base to one of the biggest agencies in the city and joined an office in Tel Aviv as a partner. We work with all kinds of clients there – Hot, 012, Microsoft, Clal, several banks, and so on.” As if this weren’t enough, Gavriel is also a director in a Jerusalem company in the services sector.
Why law? “I believe that law is a central field that can move me forward personally and professionally,” Gavriel explains. He already has an education in accounting and economics, and in the future, Gavriel plans to combine his law studies with a master’s degree in business. His reasons for choosing the Hebrew University are very straightforward: “The Hebrew University is the only Israeli university that is included on the Shanghai Ranking”. In addition to these practical considerations, however, Gavriel also offers a more emotional reason: “The guys here are amazing. Every day I realize how right I was to decide to study here, including in terms of my classmates.” There’s nowhere else like the Hebrew University!
A second hearing: Although Gavriel already has a rich professional life, he admits that the combination of work and studies is a challenge: “It’s hard to cope with studying and working at the same time.” The result is that Gavriel does not spend most of his time in the university or the Faculty, but he is still famous among his peers. “I miss quite a lot of classes but somehow everyone still knows me.” One reason may be that Gavriel founded the sarcastic website “Arrogant Legal Geniuses,” which presents humor from the legal world and has already won some 3,300 “likes.”
Who am I? Guy Ziv
The facts: Guy came to study law at the Faculty in order to fight for justice, but soon found that he was mainly fascinated by the philosophical side of the subject. He now plans to continue to a master’s degree in law. He is also studying in the Department of Political Science.
Why law? “People always told me that I enjoy arguing, and I was always attracted by the idea of fighting for justice. When I was growing up I often felt that I had to struggle for something I believed was right, so it was only natural to study a subject that can help me do that.
The studies aren’t easy – I would describe them as challenging. On the other hand, when you get a good grade you really feel you’ve achieved something, and it’s rewarding to cope with those kind of challenges. Some of the courses have provided me with tools for explaining myself, stating my case, and formulating my position. Those are the course I liked most – the ones that touch on the philosophical principles behind law and policy.”
A second hearing: “Over the past year I have volunteered in an organization called The Sky’s the Limit,” Guy tells us. “The organization works with young people at risk from disadvantaged neighborhoods of Jerusalem. The method is to give these young people the feeling that they can improve their own lives and their surroundings by themselves. We don’t want to help them directly, but to lead them through a process of empowerment, according to the motto that you shouldn’t give someone a fish but rather a fishing rod. The counselors help the children to develop their verbal skills and self-confidence. At the end of the year the children plan and implement projects to help their own communities. This year, one of the groups came up with a plan to screen movies for the community. I received a scholarship in return for volunteering in the project. I didn’t work as a counselor but I managed the project’s online presence to raise awareness, maintain our relationships with international charities, and make new contacts. One of the things I liked about my involvement in the project,” Guy continues, “is that there were lots of opportunities to implement and learn more about subjects we studied at the Faculty. It’s a really hands-on experience and it gave me new perspective about the more practical side of things and how issues are reflected in the real world.”