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Annual Gala of American Friends
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American Friends of the Open University of Israel held its annual Gala Celebration on November 10, 2015 at The Pierre Hotel in New York City. The event honored New York University President, John Sexton, and Linda and Michael G. Jesselson. Joining the honorees in addressing the assembly were Ambassador Danny Danon, Israel’s envoy to the United Nations, and Ambassador Ido Aharoni, consul general of Israel in New York. They were joined by Professor Kobi Metzer, President of The Open University of Israel. Likewise, Mrs. Ingeborg Rennert, President of American Friends of the Open University of Israel, and Chairperson, Mrs. Naomi Hass-Perlman, delivered remarks, followed by board members, Professor William Schwartz and Ms. Nina Rosenwald.  The vital role played by the Open University in Israeli society, strongly supported over the years through the generosity of the university’s American friends was cited by all. The event was a great success, and funds raised exceeded the successes of previous years.
 
Photo: Mrs. Ingeborg Rennert, President, American Friends of The Open University of Israel
 Access Optimization: Changing the Lives of Students
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Access Optimization, a project targeting students of Ethiopian origin and aiming to encourage their success was the highlight of this year's gala. Representing program participants was Tali Sisai, a third-year undergraduate student in Social Sciences and Humanities at the OUI. Born in Ethiopia, Sisai made aliyah in 1991 together with her family. Now a single mother of a 7-year old, Sisai also assumed responsibility for the welfare and education of her three younger siblings eight years ago, when they became orphaned. 
 
Sisai’s dream of higher education was deferred when college after college turned her away with the message that she would not be able to finance her studies. Then, a friend told her about a track at the Open University. She was unsure whether she would be able to meet the OUI’s rigorous academic standards. Nevertheless, Sisai registered, and soon discovered that Access Optimization offered services that met her particular needs and those shared by many students of Ethiopian origin. A community coordinator provided academic guidance and Sisai was helped with financial issues, learning skills, and was provided a supportive environment. The program also addresses the language issues and matters of bureaucracy which affect students still in the process of integrating
into Israeli society. 


Photo: left to right – Prof. Kobi Metzer, President ; Tali Sisai 
 
Congratulating Prof. Oren Soffer on the Publication of his New Book
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Prof. Oren Soffer’s new book, Galei Tzahal (IDF Radio, Hebrew) studies the history of communications issues in the Israel Defense Forces radio station. Soffer, who is Head of the OUI Department of Sociology, Political Science, and Communication, takes the broad social-cultural context of the issues into account, while examining the station's growing dominance since its inception, the changing conceptualizations of its audience, and gender issues. The book includes interviews with past station commanders and other senior personalities, who lend insight into topics covered in the study. 


Photo: Book cover
OUI Researchers in the Press

Dr. Netanel Fisher, OUI Department of Sociology, Political Science and Communication, provides considerable data from his research in an interview by Haaretz on the efforts made by Israel's government to encourage conversion among olim who are not deemed halachically Jewish.  
See:
http://www.haaretz.com/st/c/prod/eng/2015/08/not-jewish-enough/

OUI News

OUI technology and course development
make English language proficiency preparation accessible to all Israeli students in institutions of higher education. Read more: 
http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/University-students-to-be-able-to-study-English-online-for-free-439452