The Faces of Bar-Ilan University

The Faces of Bar-Ilan University

The Faces of Bar-Ilan University

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Shiri Taron and Alex Solodukhin Shiri Taron Solodukhin and Alex Solodukhin

Meet Shiri Taron Solodukhin and Alex Solodukhin, married parents to newborn Refael, who are both students at BIU’s Azrieli Faculty of Medicine in the Galilee. Shiri, 30, is a 5th year (pre-residence) medical students, and holds a BSc in Biomedicine and an MSc in Neurobiology from the Hebrew University. She grew up in Netanya, and during her pre-clinical studies served as research exchange coordinator for the students’ union and a doctor’s assistant in the Galilee Medical Center and Mazor Medical Center. “Becoming a doctor was something I thought about for several years." 
Michael Manchik

Michael Manchik:
Spurring on Urban Revival in Lod

BIU alumnus Michael Manchik first came to the city of Lod as a student volunteer in a community outreach project. Today, he is working in the local youth center,encouraging Lod’s youngsters to pursue higher education and breathe new life into their hometown.

Michael Manchik’s leadership skills and charisma first came to fore when he was a combat soldier and commander in the Israeli Navy. He later developed an interest in social activism while preparing teens for army service in the framework of the Aharai! (Follow Me) organization. Read more >>

Jonathan Milgram Jonathan Milgram

Meet Jonathan Milgram, 27, a third year student in the International B.A program at BIU. Jonathan was born in Philadelphia, and moved to Boston when he was in high school. The Milgrams were always a very Zionist family, participating in various Bnei Akiva groups, and by the age of 7, Jonathan knew that he would make Aliyah one day. Wasting no time, upon finishing high school, Jonathan made Aliyah and joined an Ulpan on Kibbutz Yavne. After completing Ulpan, he worked on Kibbutz Alumim, before enlisting into the IDF Nahal Infantry Brigade. Read more >>
Miriam Schachter Miriam Schachter

Meet Miriam Schachter, a graduate student at BIU's School of Social Work and an academic mentoring coordinator at Bar-Ilan's unique Academic Mentoring Project for accompanying and supporting students coping with mental disabilities (details about joining the project at the end). Miriam, a married mother of two sons, also voluntarily organizes lectures for Russian speakers on Judaism and Zionism. "I remember the day I made Aliyah as one of the happiest and most exciting days of my life," she says, "but it was not long before I experienced a crisis. I felt lonely after having left my friends and family behind, as well as my studies in university (she was a third year student in Clinical Psychology) and the job I loved very much - the director of the Jewish Agency's youth club. I came to a new country where I didn't know anyone ". Read more >>
Dr. Ron Piran

Dr. Ron Piran:
Improving Treatment for Diabetics

At BIU’s Azrieli Faculty of Medicine in the Galilee, Dr.Ron Piran is working on a new treatment method that could improve the condition and quality of life of diabetic patients. “Diabetes is a condition where thebody does not produce enough insulin because of beta-cell destruction,”explains Piran. “Since insulin is the substance that allows glucose entry into the cells, they are deprived of food and energy. A side effect is an increase in blood sugar levels. In extreme cases, this may cause gangrene of certain organs,arteriosclerosis, renal failure, strokes and more.” Read more >>

Dr. Ofer Limon

Dr. Ofer Limon:
Optometric Examinations Through a Novel Application

The technology developed by Dr. Ofer Limon provides vision solutions for 2.5 billion people around the world. Six Over Six, headed by Dr. Ofer Limon - a graduate of all three Faculty of Engineering degrees - is based on a breakthrough technology which performs full optometric testing by means of a software application alone. "We developed the technology thanks to a different kind of observation of optics and physics than what has been accepted up till now, and out of a deep understanding of optics and years of experience working alongside optometrists," he said. Read more >>

Prof. Zohar Amar

Prof. Zohar Amar:
Ancient Health Remedies

Modern medicine relies on ancient sources as well as traditional health remedies. However as time goes by, these health remedies are slowly disappearing, and along with them – a grand tradition of healing and a nurturing way of life. Prof. Zohar Amar of the Martin (Szusz) Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology has been amassing and examining these ancient remedies for two decades, thus preserving this extensive knowledge for generations to come. Read more >>

Ivan Bonamassa Ivan Bonamassa

Meet Ivan Bonamassa, 29, a Ph.D. candidate in Professor Shlomo Havlin’s laboratory at the Department of Physics. Born in Puglia, Italy, Ivan was always interested in science, and was curious to find out “how the world works”. He completed his BA and MA in Physics and Theoretical physics respectively, at the University of Salento in Lecce, Italy. As an undergrad student, before ever hearing of Bar-Ilan or knowing much about Israel, Ivan was already fascinated with Prof. Havlin’s work. “He’s very famous in his field and has had a huge impact, especially with complex systems.” After learning more about the research and innovative technologies developed at Bar-Ilan and the world famous professors, and impacted by Havlin’s work in particular, Ivan decided to apply for a position in his lab. Read more >>
Prof Yuri Rassovsky

Prof. Yuri Rassovsky:
Using Martial Arts to Improve Social Behavior

How do the martial arts improve cognitive skills and behavior, and even reduce violence and aggressiveness among youth? That’s the subject of an intriguing neuropsychological study conducted in the sports lab of Prof. Yuri Rassovsky, Head of the Clinical Rehabilitation Division in Bar-Ilan University’s Department of Psychology. “Neuropsychology focuses on understanding the brain-behavior connection and aims to use this understanding to help people,” he explains. “In order to explore the impact of martial arts on mental, emotional and physical wellbeing, the sports lab enlists students who are athletes and certified fitness instructors to explore a broad spectrum of topics related to this phenomenon.” Read more >>

Jennifer Brenis

Jennifer Brenis

Meet Jennifer Brenis, 22, a second-year undergrad student in Communication and Educational Administration. Jennifer grew up in a Zionist home in Cleveland, Ohio, and attended a Zionist school and summer camp. "There were always Bnot Sherut (National Service girls) and "Shlichim" (Jewish Agency emissaries) from Israel working with our community." says Jennifer, "Bnei Akiva and Israel were a part of my life since childhood". While she had always toyed with the idea of making Aliyah, it was at a shiur (Torah lesson) in Camp Stone the summer before her gap-year in Israel that Jennifer decided she would make Aliyah at the end of that year.

Prof. Amir Leshem

Prof. Amir Leshem:
Breaking the Net

What do Facebook and Twitter have to do with fighting terror or curing epidemic diseases?
Prof. Amir Leshem presents the study of social media and its unexpected contexts.

Prof. Amir Leshem has spent the past year delving into facebook, twitter, and other social networks. No, he has not neglected his academic research for recreational pastime. In fact, Leshem, who is an expert on communication networks, signal and data processing, is working – he is currently studying the dynamics of social networks, and their implications on other realms – from genetic research to fighting terror. “Using a well established sociological model for opinion dissemination in social networks. My team and I are trying to identify the influencing factors in social media, and their level of influence,” Leshem explains. “From a marketing perspective, identifying the influential factors will enable advertisers to target them as opinion leaders in their circles. Read more >>

Aditya Mukherjee

Aditya Mukherjee

Meet Aditya Mukherjee, a 19 year old law undergrad from Kolkata, India. After completing his second year of law studies at the Jindal Global University in India, he decided to participate in BIU's "Identity Based Conflict-Resolution" summer program, which focuses on the various conflicts over collective identity that are about in the world today. Studentsfrom around the world have the opportunity to learn from leading scholars and practitioners about local, national and international conflicts and how to engage them. Read more >>

Prof. Zvi Mark

Prof. Zvi Mark:
The Healing Power of Hasidic Stories

Hasidic stories can do more than fascinate the reader. They can inspire and foster introspection, encourage emotional growth, and even heal. "The connection between bibliotherapy and Hasidic literature is very natural, and today there's greater awareness among therapists that if you want to reach people, you need to speak their 'language,'" says BIU Hebrew Literature Prof. Zvi Mark academic head of BIU's new diploma studies program, The Healing Power of Hasidic Stories. "It's difficult for a person to talk about something very painful in a direct way but through stories, he's able to express his perspective without discomfort," explains Mark, incumbent of the Chair for the Study of Hasidism and the Teachings of Rabbi Levy Yitzhak of Berdichev, founded by Levy Yitzhak and Yehudit Rachmani. Read more >>

Magda Korakhashvili Alumni Success Story:
Magda Korakhashvili

Meet Magda Korakhashvili, 24, a recent graduate of BIU's International MBA Program. Magda was born and raised in Tbilisi, Georgia. After graduating high school, she moved to Vienna, where she studied business administration at the Lauder Business School, while simultaneously completing a Law degree on line from a Georgian University. During her time in Vienna, she became involved in the European Union of Jewish Students, an organization that seeks to strengthen Jewish communities and European society through Jewish student activism and advocacy. Her involvement in the organization led her to open a branch in Georgia and become a local representative of EUJS. Read more >>
Dy Eyal Hendel

Dr. Ayal Hendel
Developing Therapeutic Genome Editing to Correct Genetic Disorders

For children suffering from sickle-cell anemia, cancer and immune diseases such as the "bubble boy" syndrome, the prognosis is bleak: pain, severe discomfort, difficulty in pursuing a normal lifestyle, and an uncertain future. But novel research underway in Dr. Ayal Hendel's Genome Editing & Gene Therapy Laboratory at BIU's Mina and Everard Goodman Faculty of Life Sciences may now offer promise and a new lease on life for countless youths. Read more >>

Natan Ben Hamou

Natan Benhamou

Meet Natan Benhamou (24), a second year undergrad in Political Studies and Criminology. Growing up in Paris, Natan knew from a young age that he wanted to make Aliyah. "The second intifada and the growing antisemitism in France made me realize that there is no better place for a Jew than Israel," he says. He served as a combat soldier in the Artillery Corps and participated in Operation Protective Edge. "This was a turning point in my life,” he says of this experience. "It was my first time on the front line, and it was very difficult, especially because I was alone in Israel. Read more >>

Dr. Achia Urbach

Dr. Achia Urbach 
Identifying Gene Causing Kidney Tumors

An important link between the Lin28 gene and Wilms Tumor has recently been identified by Dr. Achia Urbach, a senior lecturer at BIU’s Mina and Everard Goodman Faculty of Life Sciences. Wilms Tumor comes about due to the improper development of the kidney during the fetal stage, and is the most common form of kidney cancer in children. Dr. Urbach conducted this research during his Postdoc at Boston Children’s Hospital right before joining the Bar-Ilan University faculty. Read more >>

Noa Leah Cohn

Noa Leah Cohn

Meet Noa Leah Cohn, a doctoral candidate and researcher at BIU’s Department of Jewish Art, the only department of its kind in Israel. Born and raised in a religious family in Netanya, she now lives with her family in Jerusalem, where she manages an art gallery. Cohn says she always liked art but she fell in love with Judaic studies, and specifically Judaica and Jewish art, while studying at Midreshet Lindenbaum after high school. She decided to combine her two passions and study Art History and Jewish Thought at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.


Sarah Hasenson

Sarah Hasenson


Meet Sarah Hasenson, 26, a PhD candidate at BIU’s Mina and Everard Goodman Faculty of Life Sciences, studying Biology. Sarah grew up in in a Zionist home in Stockholm, Sweden. Throughout her childhood she was involved in Bnei Akiva, as well as the Chabad of Stockholm. She came to Israel for a gap year program in 2009, touring the country and experiencing different aspects of the Israeli culture. At the end of that year, she made Aliyah. “I grew up in a small community of Jews in Sweden,” Sarah explains, “I wanted to feel part of the community here in Israel.”


Dr Joseph Keshet

Dr. Joseph Keshet
Disease, Distress & Quality of Relationships: All in the Voice

Beyond words, volumes may be learned from the human voice: Is a cry for help genuine or fake? Does a person unknowingly suffer from a vocal cord disorder? What is the relationship between spouses, or the compatibility of a therapist and patient?  

BIU computer scientist, Dr. Joseph Keshet, a foremost authority on voice analysis, has developed sophisticated systems and software to address such questions and tap the vast potential in this exciting frontier field. Read more >>

Dr Eyal Yaniv

Dr. Eyal Yaniv
Head, Gradute School of Business Administration

The Head of BIU’s Graduate School of Business Administration, Dr. Eyal Yaniv, is considered one of Israel’s internet pioneers, and is also the co-founder of of Haaretz Group (now Walla). Dr. Yaniv returned to BIU after completing his post doc at Harvard Business School.  Having acquired three degrees in Computer Science and Psychology at BIU, in the mid 1990’s Yaniv ventured into the business world. He headed various divisions at IAI and IBM, before delving into internet entrepreneurship. “When internet bandwidth began to evolve, I founded “Nonstop”, a company providing ADSL high-speed Internet and infrastructure services.” Read more >>


 Ami and Samara Yunger

Meet Ami Yunger (24), a third-year undergrad student of Economics and Business Management. Originally from Montreal, Ami was raised in a Zionist home, joined Bnei Akiva and attended Moshava summer camps. After graduating high school in 2010, he came to Israel for a Yeshiva gap year program. Early in the program, he took part in a memorial trip to Poland with his Yeshiva and it was there that he decided to make Aliyah. "I wanted to be where I felt I belong, to feel like I was part of something important," says Ami. And part of belonging was joining the IDF. In 2012 he enlisted in the Combat Engineering Corps and not long after made Aliyah. " This is where I want to be. The place that you can feel is really yours. Here you can make a big impact even by doing the smallest things."

Dr Amos Danielli

Dr. Amos Danielli: Rapid and Accurate Diagnosis for Heart Attacks

Since joining BIU's Faculty of Engineering in 2014, Dr. Amos Danielli is exploring new medical applications for the novel technology he developed, which can help shorten diagnosis time for heart patients. Each year, over 10 million people visit emergency rooms in US hospitals with symptoms of chest pain. About 8-9% of these patients have actually suffered heart attacks, though most of them cannot be diagnosed with simple clinical evaluation and an electrocardiogram test. Typically an accurate diagnosis can take six to nine hours after the onset of symptoms — and longer if stress testing is required. Read more >>

Sarit Lapp Sarit Lapp

Meet Sarit Lapp (22), a first-year undergrad in Communications and Political Science. Sarit was brought up in a religious-Zionist family in Ohio. Though her family made Aliyah when she was 6-months old, they returned to the States when she was seven. "We always intended to move back to Israel, and when I graduated high school, we decided it was the perfect time to do so." Upon their return to Israel, the Lapp family settled in Modi’in. "I always wanted to join the army," she shares, “but I had just moved back, and wasn't fully fluent in Hebrew, so I was a little intimidated.” Instead, Sarit joined the one-year overseas program in Midreshet Yeud. "This year gave me time to acclimate and to grow religiously, allowing me to feel more prepared for whatever challenges may come my way."
Dr Moshe Dessau

Dr. Moshe Dessau
Head, Structural Biology of Infectious Diseases Lab, School of Medicine

Research at Dr. Dessau’s lab focuses on viruses common in developing countries. His long-term research objective is to detect biological processes indigenous to those viruses and parasites, in order to develop groundbreaking treatments. Dr. Dessau uses structural biology and biophysical techniques to study the function of viral proteins on the atomic level. Dessau says structural biology analyzes biological processes using the laws of physics and chemistry, and enables scientists to understand these mechanisms in an atomic resolution. Read more >>

Netanel Kleinman

Netanel Kleinman 

A second-year undergraduate in English Literature with a minor in Classics, Netanel Kleinman (25) is originally from Barnet, a suburban borough in North London, England. Growing up, Netanel was involved in Bnei Akiva, later attending Yeshivat HaKotel in Israel. He ultimately served in the artillery corps as part of his Hesder-Yeshiva program and came on Aliyah. Regarding his college major, he says, "I decided to do the same degree as I intended to do in England -- English literature." After researching the programs offered by Hebrew University and Bar-Ilan University, he was drawn to the one at Bar-Ilan. Netanel was impressed by the warm reception of the department when he inquired about the program. "They were incredibly friendly and eager to help. They are a lovely department." Read more >>

Prof Daniel Sperber

Rabbi Prof. Daniel Sperber:
Finding Meaning in Prayer is Explored

For most people, it is extremely challenging to find meaning in prayer. Rabbi Daniel Sperber, who recently spoke in at the Young Israel of Scarsdale about this issue, said that this is because “we are trying to understand the infinite — the incomprehensible.”

Rabbi Sperber, professor emeritus of Talmud at Bar-Ilan University and past Israel Prize winner, explained that part of the problem comes from the contradictory nature of our prayer, which should be more personal in nature yet has become increasingly standardized. “Prayer should come from the heart or spirit. Ideally, it should be formulated by what we feel at the moment.” Read more >>

Deena Felsenthal

Deena Felsenthal

Meet Deena Felsenthal (22) a first-year student in Social Work, originally from Los Angeles, California. Deena attended a religious girls' high school before coming to Migdal Oz Midrasha for a gap year program, planning to go back to the US to pursue an academic degree. "I didn't intend on staying in Israel," she reveals. "I was accepted to Stern College, but it was important for me to experience Israel first. A month into my stay, I made up my mind to make Aliyah." At first, her parents were shocked. "But when they realized I was really serious about making Aliyah, they supported me fully."


Prof Yehuda Lindell

Prof. Yehuda Lindell

Prof. Yehuda Lindell is a researcher at BIU’s Department of Computer Science, specializing in cryptography, secure protocols and theoretical foundations. Lindell focuses on questions of feasibility and efficiency, which enable coding and protecting personal information in internet systems, and on secure protocols, which provide an effective and discreet calculation of data without revealing its source or contents. Lindell explains: “A primary aim of my research in this area is to demonstrate that secure computation has potential for real-world use, and many real-world problems can already be solved today.” Read more >>



Student Spotlight on: 
Leora Jaffe Steinman and Noam Steinman

Meet Leora Jaffe (22), who just completed her BA in Political Studies and Jewish Studies. Growing up in a modern orthodox family in Cleveland, Ohio, Leora attended the local Jewish school and was involved in the Bnei Akiva Youth Movement. "After high school I came to Midreshet HaRova for a gap year, and planned to return to America for college, where I was already enrolled at Brandeis University. After that I was planning to make Aliyah.” Read more >>

Prof Yona Amitai

Prof. Yona Amitai:
Is Desalinated Water a Health Hazard?

Underscoring the risk of consuming desalinated water devoid of magnesium, BIU Prof. Yona Amitai, a public health expert, recommends adding the mineral to drinking water in order to thwart fatal heart disease.

Warning: Consuming desalinated water may be hazardous to your heart!

That, in fact, is the conclusion of a joint Israeli study conducted by researchers from BIU and Sheba Medical Center (Tel Hashomer). Read more >>

Prof. Avi Bell

Prof. Avi Bell:
From Tax Laws to Warfare – Anything but Boring

Prof. Avi Bell has never shied away from controversy. The professor in the Bar-Ilan University Faculty of Law has written on hot topics such as the infamous Goldstone Report and the implications of the Levy Commission’s report on the status of building in Judea and Samaria. Originally from Chicago, Bell has been at Bar-Ilan since 2002 and, despite such high profile papers, he jokes that most of his work is actually on “really boring stuff” like land planning and property tax law. Hardly. For his participation in a project being run by the Kohelet Policy Forum where he is a research fellow, Bell is looking at the unique situation in Israel where, unlike anywhere else in the West, nearly all of the country’s land is owned by the state. Read more >>

Miriam and Ben Yablom

Ben and Miriam Yablon

Meet Miriam Yablon (22), a first year student of English Literature and Linguistics. Originally from Colorado, Miriam first arrived at Bar-Ilan to join the Israel Experience Gap Year Program, which, she says, made a huge impact on her life: "It helped me answer some spiritual questions by spending time here and learning from exceptional teachers." Though the program offers both secular and religious classes, Miriam decided to focus on Torah Studies, where she became more committed to the Jewish heritage: "The Shabbatonim were a stepping stone in helping me shape my beliefs and values, and the classes were enriching and fascinating." It was at the program that she met Ben Yablon and the two were married in 2014. Read more >>


Dr. Amit Tzur:
Finding the Humor in Good Science

Cell biologist and BINA faculty member Dr. Amit Tzur has never been shy about declaring his faith in the redemptive power of basic science, and he has a healthy sense of humor. An expert in cellular growth and proliferation, Tzur recently declared that his most recent research – related to the post-transcriptional modifications of proteins – may help redeem mankind from “shame” generated by one of the most successful scientific endeavors of all time. “At the end of the Human Genome Project, we learned that humans have only about 25 thousand genes, which was downright embarrassing,” Tzur says. “I mean, are we really only four times more complex than bacteria?” Read more >>

Batsheva Joffe

Batsheva Joffe


Meet Batsheva Joffe (21), a first year student in psychology and art at BIU. At thirteen Batsheva made Aliyah with her family from South Africa to Beit Shemesh. In high school, she majored in both biology and art, and after graduating she spent a year at Machon HaMikdash in Jerusalem for Sheirut Leumi (national service), giving lectures in English to Jews and non-Jews from all over the world.

When the time came to attend university, Batsheva already had a direction in mind. "Art has always spoken to me," she shares. "It's at my core, but I never thought of pursuing it as a degree." That changed, however, when Batsheva was urged by her high school art teacher and mentor to compete for the scholarship offered by Bar-Ilan University in affiliation with Chemed. Batsheva won the competition and the scholarship. Read more >>

Dr Rafi Haddad

Dr. Rafi Haddad

Despite remarkable technological advances, cures for diseases and other developments, science has yet to find a way to quantify and qualify odors. Animals have already gotten the hang of it. Ants build roads, dogs can track people, drugs and other substances, parrots can identify fellow parrots, all based on their sense of smell. Dr. Rafi Haddad, who joined BIU’s Gonda (Goldschmied) Multidisciplinary Brain Research Center following a post-doc stint at Harvard, is working on revolutionizing our ability to measures smells, as head of BIU’s Neural Circuits, Neural Coding, Neural Computations and Olfaction lab. Read more >>

Last modified: 19/02/2018