Bar-Ilan Returning Scientist Co-Authors Study Published in Nature Methods

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  • Israel's 19th Knesset Replete with Current and Former Bar-Ilaners

    Date: 2013-02-12 Hour: 11:22

    "The truth?  I was excited.  Very excited.  Yesterday was the swearing in ceremony for the 19th Knesset.  When I said the words "I commit", I thought of all the events that led me to this moment, and about all the people who have put their hopes and their faith in me.  I felt the weight of the responsibility that is now upon me and my partners in this journey.  My commitment to you begins today.  Through hard work and patience we will succeed in bringing about a more just and equal society."

    Such were the moving words expressed on her Facebook page by Adv. Karin Elharrar, of the Bar-Ilan University Faculty of Law, who, along with two additional distinguished Bar-Ilan academics -- Dr. Shimon Ohayon, of the Churgin School of Education and Dr. Aliza Lavie, of the Department of Political Science and School of Communication -- are now official members of the government of Israel. Their new status as members of Knesset (MKs) was determined in the recent Israeli elections.

    The vibrant and articulate Karin Elharrar MK, who until now has directed the legal clinics at Bar-Ilan University, was a leading voice in the social justice protests that gripped the country a year-and-a-half ago.  Specializing in the rights of Holocaust survivors, the handicapped and pensioners, she has been active in promoting government legislation to advance the rights of the disabled, in addition to bringing about fundamental change in government institutions on various issues, such as employment of personal assistants in special education and national insurance payments of disabled child benefits.  She founded a movement to fight poverty and a program providing free legal assistance to disadvantaged populations. During her graduate studies, Elharrar interned at two leading US NGO's dealing with the rights of people with disabilities: The American Association for People with Disabilities (AAPD) and Mental Disability Rights International (MDRI). Adv. Elharrar MK is a member of the Yesh Atid Party.

    Dr. Shimon Ohayon MK, deputy director of the Churgin School of Education, also serves as director of the Aharon and Rachel Dahan Center for Culture, Society and Education in the Sephardic Heritage, established over a decade ago to promote and preserve the heritage of Jewish Sephardic communities.  Under Dr. Ohayon's direction, the Center has led an extensive program of activities in the academic and educational spheres. 

    Born in Morocco, Dr. Ohayon immigrated to Israel with his parents at the age of 11.  As an emissary for the Jewish Agency, he brought a variety of different groups to study, volunteer, and settle in the State of Israel.  In his new role he hopes to improve the status of teachers in Israel, address poverty among Arabs and Haredim, and strengthen Jewish identity.  In fact, his office walls are "lined with awards for his work on enhancing Jewish identity", according to a profile of him in The Jerusalem Post.  Dr. Ohayon MK is a member of the Yisrael Beytenu Party, which merged with the Likud Party prior to the elections.  Outside Bar-Ilan he serves as chairman of the Moroccan Immigrants' Organization.

    It was particularly fitting that on the morning of her swearing-in Dr. Aliza Lavie MK, author of the international bestseller "A Jewish Woman's Prayer Book", distributed copies of the prayer said by the prophetess Deborah, in the Book of Judges, to all 27 female MKs.

    Dr. Lavie explained that women traditionally recite the prayer upon assuming positions of leadership.  "Over 3,000 years ago, in the days of Deborah the prophetess, it was a strange phenomenon to see a female public leader, and in Jewish history, few women held public positions over time," Lavie told The Jerusalem Post, which profiled her in its "Meet the MK" series.  "Now there is record number of women in the Knesset, and we cannot ignore the positive trend.  My prayer is that, together with female MKs, we will faithfully represent Israeli women and act together to promote their status in society," she added.

    Dr. Lavie's research focuses on communications, multi-culturalism, and the place of women in Judaism, while her public activity involves issues of society, gender, and Jewish culture.  She is a senior lecturer at Bar-Ilan University's School of Communication, and serves as director of the School's Center for Media and Religion, which seeks to expand public discussion on the way in which media and religion influence one another.  Dr. Lavie is a member of the Yesh Atid Party.

    In addition to Elharrar, Ohayon and Lavie, an impressive roster of additional party leaders, government ministers and MKs have studied at Bar-Ilan University.  They are:
    Tzipi Livni, Chairman, Hatnua (The Movement) Party (Law)
    Yair Lapid, Chairman, Yesh Atid Party (Hermeneutics and Cultural Studies)
    Zehava Gal-On, Chairman, Meretz Party (Working toward completion of requirements to enter doctoral program in Gender Studies)
    Lt. Gen. (res.) Shaul Mofaz, Chairman, Kadima Party (Economics and Business Administration)
    Gilad Erdan, Minister of the Environment (Law)
    Tzipi Hotovely MK (Law)
    Rabbi Shai Piron MK (Lecturer, Faculty of Law)
    Gila Gamliel MK (Law)
    Avraham Michaeli MK (Law)
    Nissan Slomiansky MK (Physics)
    Nachman Shai MK (Political Science)
    Ofir Akunis MK (Political Science)
    Meir Sheetrit MK (Political Science, Sociology)
    Yifat Kariv MK (Sociology)
    Maj. Gen. (res.) Elazar Stern MK (Economics and Land of Israel Studies)
    Ibrahim Tzartzur MK (English Literature)
    Pnina Tamano-Shata MK (Academic Preparatory Program)
    Michal Rozin MK (Academic coursework towards PhD)