Prof. Reuven Cohen, Dr. Rachel Levy-Drummer, Chen Shevelov, Dr. Shai Gul, Prof. Miri Faust, Prof. Uzi Vishne, Prof. Moshe Lewenstein, and Prof. Ron Unger
Math Department Alumnus Honored for His Contribution to the Community
Date: 2017-02-06 Hour: 7:54
The outstanding initiative of a former Bar-Ilan University math student has earned him recognition from the Council for Higher Education (CHE) – and the administration of Bar-Ilan University.
Dr. Shai Gul had just completed his doctoral thesis in the Department of Mathematics, under the supervision of Department Chairman Prof. Uzi Vishne, and was in the process of looking for a job. But the premise that every individual deserves an equal opportunity to receive an education stood at the forefront of his mind, and he began to search for potential students.
Dr. Gul assembled a group of Israeli Arab women – from the cleaning personnel at the University – who were eager to learn. "I started by teaching them percentages, and then I realized that they didn't know multiplication or even addition," said Gul at a meeting with University Rector Prof. Miri Faust, Academic Secretary Dr. Rachel Levy-Drummer, Faculty of Exact Sciences Dean Prof. Moshe Lewenstein, Prof. Vishne, Prof. Reuven Cohen, of the Department of Mathematics, and Prof. Ron Unger, of the Mina and Everard Goodman Faculty of Life Sciences, celebrating his recognition from the CHE -- the 2016 Prize for Special Contribution to the Community. "Some didn't know how to hold a pen or hadn't received a very basic education," added Gul, who, with a group of volunteers, taught the group during their work breaks.
University President Rabbi Prof. Daniel Hershkowitz, who was unable to attend the gathering, called in to congratulate Gul on his honor. "Like me, you are a mathematician, and I appreciate mathematicians," said Hershkowitz. "But above all you are what we look for in a human being. I wish you continued success as a role model for many in your efforts to foster connections between the educated and less educated," said Hershkowitz. Referring to a news item broadcast on a popular Israeli television program that focused on Gul and his math students, Prof. Faust recalled seeing the women boarding a bus in their village in the darkness of early morning in order to come to work at Bar-Ilan. She praised Gul for recognizing that the women deserve the right to study. Gul thanked Prof. Vishne for his abiding support of the initiative.
The classes have come to an end, but Gul's efforts allowed the women to achieve basic mathematical knowledge, and he remains in touch with them until today. The lives of some have changed completely as a result. One woman is studying to become an assistant kindergarten teacher, while another is completing her matriculation exams and wants to study for a BA.
Today Gul and his wife, Chen Shevelov, have expanded the operation by opening a non-profit organization called Eretz which provides educational opportunities for various sectors of the Israeli population, including Russians and Ethiopians.