Greetings By Fellows

Hoffman Program Graduation Ceremony - Class of 2017

2020 Speech on behalf of the fellows

Hozam Hardal

Yoni Yahav


HOZAM: President of the Hebrew University, Professor Asher Cohen, Harry, Silvya and Sue, Hanoch, Amalya, Roi, Lital, Yosepha and Tammy And all of you, Hoffman's of all generations who have joined us tonight to celebrate, once again and perhaps for the last time, the extraordinary contribution of this program to our greater academic community.


So, this is the end!

My name is Hozam and I'm a PhD candidate in Social Work.


YONI: I am Yoni, I'm a PhD candidate in the Arabic Language and Literature Department.

As the representatives of the final year of the program, we've taken on the daunting task of concluding and summing up the impact of the Hoffman Responsibility and Leadership program on our lives.

And thank you Pearl for putting these thoughts into words.


HOZAM: For the past three years, the Hoffman morning meetings have provided a space that is truly unique in Israeli academia. A space that balanced and embraced the tension between real life and intellectual pursuits. The kind of space where it's okay to share budding ideas and unfinished thoughts. The kind of space where you're encouraged to "create time" to get out from the lab or the library. To be in the present. To care for the society around you.


YONI: For all of us, it's been a space where we've grown as debutant academics, as aspiring social activists, and as simply young people. As our numbers gradually reduced, we were challenged to involve ourselves more with the contents of our meetings. We all picked up the phone and invited renowned experts to speak to us, and in the process we became a close-knit group of friends, spanning academic disciplines from the genetics of sesame seeds to pain receivers in the brain, from robot psychotherapists to radical settlers.


HOZAM: Amalya, Roi, Hanoch, Yosepha, Tammy and Lital, we wish to thank all of you for your immeasurable efforts that you’ve invested throughout these years. For us, you have been anchors through the turbulent waters of our PhD journeys.

Hanoch, thank you for your inspiring presence; for the talks on Einstein and the wisdom you've imparted in our meetings.

Roi, thank you for making sure that we didn't take life too seriously and for encouraging us to try, fail and try again.


YONI: Amalya, thank you for your trust. You've inspired us - not only to be better researchers and more dedicated academics - but also better human beings.

Yosepha, thank you for keeping us alert and on our toes, with your unique intellectual perceptiveness and special human touch.

Tammy, thank you for being there for us. We know these were a difficult past few months on your side; your support and dedication to the program are truly admirable.

Lital, all of us here know that the program’s unique atmosphere was often the result of your special way of running things. Thank you.


HOZAM: And though the program ends now, we're not just looking back to celebrate its achievements so far – and as a testament to these, just scroll through the zoom pages to see how many people it has impacted and look at the young academics joining us tonight literally from across the globe.


YONI: But also, this is a time to look further into the future. There is great potential in the community that has gathered here tonight, the Hoffman alumni community. Harry, Sylvia and Sue - you have sown the seeds. It's now up to us - the Hoffmans - to rally together and create a network which will continue what you have started.


HOZAM: For our sake and for all those who believe that academia should be at the service of society. In the name of the final Hoffman cohort: Good luck to us all!




Hoffman Program Graduation Ceremony - Class of 2016

2019 Speech on behalf of the fellows

Yinnon Geva

Keren Einat


Dear Hoffman family, Harry, Sylvia and Sue; Respected guests; Our beloved staff: Amalya, Yosepha, Roi, Hanoch, Lital and Idit; Past and present Hoffman fellows; Family and friends.

Is is an honor to speak on behalf of our cohort, and express gratitude for three wonderful years as Hoffman fellows. It is also a great responsibility, to try and sum up three years of encounters, experiences, and revelations. But since leadership and responsibility are the reason we are here, we'll give it a try.

At the first meeting of our second year came the question "what made you become a She leader?". Some people had a hard time answering it, but not me. I can pinpoint directly to the incident which made me a leader: suing my former employer.

After working there for a year, he refused to let me continue working unless I share the fact that I have a disability with all people with whom I come in contact. This demand came after the occurrence of some issues concerning my performance, caused, if I may theorize, by not receiving the accessibility adjustments that I needed. After settling in court, I remember asking myself – what's next? How do I continue promoting issues on behalf of my community, the community of people living with invisible disabilities?

A short while after that, I saw the publication for the Hoffman Program, which strives for academic achievements with leadership and social responsibility. I had seen it many times before, but after the aforementioned experience, I suddenly thought to myself, "Maybe".  

This is not an easy time for young researchers to make their first steps in academia. On top of the internal pressures of this career path, external pressures are mounting. The ideals of basic science, of freedom of thought, of a public debate rooted in founded arguments, are all under assault.

If we wish to position ourselves as the future of this institution, it is our responsibility not only to respond to these claims but also to understand their sources and seek answers close to home. To read between the cliched lines about the 'ivory tower' and ask ourselves honestly, what can we do to protect whatever is worthy of protection?

The Hoffman program is a crucial space for approaching this challenge. We challenge each other - using our different perspectives and life experiences.

Ubuntu is a word in Zulu and in other Nguni Bantu languages spoken around South-Africa which symbolizes the essence of being human. It roughly translates to English as "I am who I am because of who we all are". You cannot be a person without other people; Human existence depends on interconnectedness. The students in this group, the staff and the guests we have met turned me into who I am, And I helped to turn them into who they are.

Sitting here with us today is an incredible group of students, who volunteer in various projects. Members of this cohort are involved in initiatives such as: Promoting Justice and Transparency / Informativity, at the state level (Yael) and at the community level (Yinnon), promoting Palestinian-Israeli Co-Existence (Ohad), supporting a cleaner world (Mush), supporting disadvantaged students (Shayma; Ayelet), supporting Disadvantaged individuals, such as refugees (Tamar), people with invisible disabilities (Einat) and in mitigating family violence (Ido).

The heart of our Hoffman experience were the meetings that we held twice a month at the Australia Complex. In our time together we learned the importance of stories, both personal and collective. To give just a taste of the variety:

We met many social activists, from many disciplines. We learned about building dialogue between Palestinians and Jews, addressing crime in Arab society, mobilizing against ethnic discrimination, engaging with minority groups such as ultra-orthodox Jews and Immigrants from Ethiopia. Some well-established figures also talked with us, including a major newspaper editor, leaders of political advocacy groups and grassroots experts. We have also met many academics from a variety of fields, Including political science, life sciences, education, computer science, environmental sciences, sociology, law, public policy and economics. Public sector officials who sat with us include Senior Medical professors, Equal Opportunity Commissioners and Public transit officials. And from time to time we were the speakers on the other side of the table. At the annual non-conference we shared academic and personal knowledge. And each of our regular meetings opened with tips and insights from our own colleagues. We also ventured out of campus. We visited two major branches of government – the Knesset and the Supreme Court, but also visited spaces of conflict and ambiguity  in the eastern side of Jerusalem. We visited two important social initiatives – the ALEH- Negev rehabilitation village and a non-verbal communication workshop led by deaf counsellors. And of course, we met you the Hoffmans, in meetings full of joy and celebration.

The meetings were not always easy. The weight of structural injustices and social schisms that one can be exposed to in three years can truly be overwhelming. But it also provided us with perspective and inspiration. The stories of our colleagues and guests demonstrated that change can be achieved, even if the process is gradual and sometimes painfully slow. Our main challenge was and is to be inspired by these stories to pursue social change in our lives.

No less important was the experience of seeing ourselves through the eyes of our guests. Sometimes, we would sit down with admirable activists, eager to learn from their expertise, and quickly realize that they are equally excited to have been invited to speak in these halls. This humbling reflection not only emphasizes how privileged we are to be here, but also that leadership can assume many forms. It is our responsibility to seek for these unfamiliar encounters and challenge ourselves to see through other people’s eyes. 

We want to thank you, both staff and students, for organizing such a stimulating program. Meeting such a varied and inspiring group of people taught me that there are all kinds of leaders. Some leaders are politicians or heads of organizations.  Some leaders are activists on behalf of their communities – even if only online. Some leaders have the role of inspiring others to take action. Ubuntu - I am who I am because of who you are. Thank you for helping me understand what kind of a leader I can become.

As we have seen time and again, you never really leave the Hoffman family. However, on this special occasion, we want to express our gratitude as a group, one last time, to the people who brought us together. So in no particular order

Hanoch, our travelling patron. We were fortunate enough to get to know you and learn from your rich experience. Whenever you spoke the room stopped, and we opened our ears to listen carefully to your wisdom. Your insights and stories are always personal and humorous but with a clear moral point, and we are so lucky to have heard them from you in person.

Lital, you are the backbone of this whole operation. You've taught us the importance of commitment to people and place. Your presence around the table was invaluable, thank you for sticking with us even when your responsibilities took you elsewhere.

Yosepha, in discussions around the table and in one-on-ones with a cup of tea in hand, you are always a true educator. You challenged us to think critically about the world and ourselves, to broaden our perspective and speak up. Thank you for inspiring us to work through difficulties, in life as well as in academia.

Roi, at the edge of the table, often you sat and listened quietly, but with a keen eye open to point out what isn't said. Thank you for teaching us the values of curiosity and humility - both are so crucial in the path that we are pursuing.

Amalya, you've shown us what it means to be a true leader. Each and every one of us has experienced your genuine interest in our wellbeing and success. Thank you for demanding of us no less than the best we can be and do, for pushing us forward through these demanding years, for showing us that personal excellence is best nurtured with warmth, empathy, and dialogue.

Dear Harry, Sylvia, and Sue. It is our great honor and privilege to thank you here for allowing us to join the grand tradition of The Hoffman Leadership and Responsibility Fellowship Program, and proudly bear the title "Hoffman fellows". Three years ago we joined the Hoffman family and since then our lives have been rapidly expanding

We had discussions, we deliberated, we learned, we met our fellow Israelis from all around the country with its diverse society, we extended our horizons, we met colleagues, we made friends, and all that time, you were here with us.

With your ever personal involvement and yearly visits, both you personally and the leadership program you inspired, allowed us to strive for excellence and inspirited us to realize the responsibilities that go hand by hand with our self-development. We are who we are because of who you are. We are now prepared.

Though moving forward, we stay together and carry on the mission and values you granted us, responsibly leading for a better society.

Sincerely yours,

The 10th Hoffman cohort, class of 2016

Ayelet, Ido, Mush, Ohad, Shayma, Yael, Tamar, Yinnon and Einat.




Hoffman Program Graduation Ceremony - Class of 2015

2018 Speech on behalf of the fellows

Aniv Mnn

Yonatan Dayan



Dear Hoffman family, Harry and Silvia, Su and Arne, Hoffman family members and friends,

President of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Prof. Asher Cohen, former presidents, Prof. Menachem Ben-Sasson and our admired Prof. Hannoch Gutfreund, our own distinguished Prof. Amalia Oliver and Prof. Roi Baer, our dearest Dr. Yosefa Tabib, Lital, Idit, honorable guests.  

 Throughout the process of writing these words, we were led by one main massage that we wished to convey, that is the substantial value of this program. It was born out of our full understanding, and hence – gratitude, for the abundance of resources that were invested so that this wonderful thing called "The Hoffman Leadership and Responsibility Program" could, in fact, come into existence, and endure.

But how can one convey the extent of 'value', when only a small fraction of it can be quantified? How can one measure things like thoughts, revelations, contemplations, learning, growing, or even friendships? We could fill a whole book of those just sharing our own personal experience, not to mention that of the other 130 'Hoffmaniers', which could keep us here for 10 more years…

Instead, we decided to use our very personal perspectives in order to reflect on what this program had achieved, and what fruits might it bear in the future. This is the product of a prolonged conversation with had with one another and with ourselves.

Throughout my being part of the Hoffman program I probably learned as much on myself and the world than I did over the course of my Ph.D, on the social, cultural and philosophical aspects of society, which, in many cases, gave birth to horrible faults in conjunction with wonderful bursting good.

The interactions with my fellow Hoffmaniers encompassed personal and professional dimensions, which, in fact, were intertwined most of the time. Hence, my predictions of future scenarios follow a similar pattern. For instance, my dear friend Vered is an expert in the field of children education and teachers’ training (whom I promise you – I would never have met had it not been for Hoffman). I will probably give another lecture as part of Vered’s volunteering activity running the ‘parents’ “training” program’ –an informal gathering of parents aimed at exposing them to knowledge concerning educational, psychological, medical and scientific aspects related directly or indirectly to their own children.

Robert, who became my good friend at Hoffman in Mt. Scopus campus, turned out to be my neighbor at the Hadassah Ein Kerem campus, where we never met! His intriguing and important research, focusing on the underlying mechanisms of pain, is close to my heart and he and I are very likely collaborate scientifically (probably when we’re old enough to have our own labs) studying the underlying mechanisms of pain and how those can be targeted medically.

Lastly, the person standing next to me, who also turned out to be the bravest dad, has inspired me time and time again when he spoke up with his calm eloquent manner, expressing eye opening ideas.


When I was asked to point at a certain characteristic of the Hoffman experience which was of a novelty in my eyes, I replied that never before did I fully experience a partnership in a community whose creators and leaders invested such a great deal of concern for the sake of gender equality, and not merely in the strict numeric sense. For what they have created is an atmosphere, a local climate in which women's voices are not only heard, and well heard, but experienced, experienced and felt through their most variant, vibrant, demanding and powerful reverberations.

If I had to predict future scenarios involving interactions with fellow Hoffmaniers, I would say that these are as unpredictable as the interactions which unfolded with the person standing next to me. Never could I imagine to meet in a PhD program a person expressing the same levels of fascination with fermentation and the wonders of natural yeast. Neither could I foresee the advantages of having close and candid interactions with a caring companion who happens to be an expert in the field of Epilepsy. The unpredictability of potentialities such as these, are the predictable attributes of future interactions between open-minded companions coming from very different sets of professional as well as cultural backgrounds, namely, between Hoffmans.

We hope that we have convinced you of the immense value this program has been granting us with. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Yonatan and I represent only two out of the whole of interactions this magical platform has been allowing in the past decade. And seeing that numbers were mentioned (sorry, couldn’t help it), come to think of it, each Hoffmanier has gotten to know his own class of about 11 other people; This, plus 48 other people from the two classes above and below, yield a total of 59 interactions per person.  so a rough calculation of the total number of interactions between Hoffmaniers in the past decade, yields a number close to 7,800 (!)

Furthermore, if we add all the guests, who have honored us over the years with their presence and voices, who represented different populations, stories, narratives, notions and ideas - all derived from this country, we expand the boundaries of knowledge and learning by multiplying it by the dozens…and we haven't even mentioned the quantity of hours of volunteering, in different organizations, fields and places, which, by using a very rough calculation, sums up to a total of approximately 60,000 hours. Each, we believe, has made a difference to the people it served.

But the truth is, that in terms of each one of our own worlds, the real number of 'value' is infinity.

On this note we would like to finish with a quote by Ayn Rand (from Atlas Shrugged):  

"Then she understood that what she needed was the motion to a purpose, no matter how small or in what form, the sense of an activity going step by step to some chosen end across a span of time…..A circle, she thought, is the movement proper to physical nature, they say that there's nothing but circular motion in the inanimate universe around us, but the straight line is the badge of man, the straight line of a geometrical abstraction that makes roads, rails and bridges, the straight line that cuts the curving aimlessness of nature by a purposeful motion from a start to an end".

Thank you for allowing us to move towards our goal with your generosity and vision, for allowing us to learn and mostly, to do.

Hoffman Program Graduation Ceremony - Yosepha Tabib

Address at the Hoffman Ceremony, 2017


Dear Sue, Harry and Silvia Hoffman who unfortunately were unable to be with us here, President of the Hebrew university Prof. Menachem Ben-Sasson, my colleagues in the program – Prof. Amalia Oliver, Prof. Hanoch Gutfreund, Prof. Roy Bar, Lital Mayers – and last but not least, dear fellows and graduates.

The last time I addressed this forum was as a doctoral fellow, when I spoke on behalf of the fourth class. At that memorable occasion, I described the Hoffman Program as a kind of Beit Midrash, whose focus of study and discussion was Israeli society with all its diversity and complexity, and whose learning and research methods were inspired by havruta, or peer religious learning.

Today, I am happy to once again address this forum, this time after having accompanied the program over the past three years, next to Amalia, Hanoch, Roy and Lital. I have been involved in the program this way or another for six years now, and each time anew I am fascinated to learn about the complex interface of scholarship and leadership, research and community, criticism, social change and responsibility. In my words today, I would like to address that interface, which is being increasingly challenged in Israeli public life in recent years, as illustrated by the heated debate around the academic ethical code that constrains the political aspect of the linkage between academy and society.

Those who know me know that I am also active in third-sector and particularly feminist organizations. I have worked in a few political women’s organizations and consulted them on social projects, and today I am a board member in the Dafna Izraeli Fund that supports feminist organizations. Over the years, both within and outside Hoffman, in Israeli academia and the third sector, I have been studying the various aspects and manifestations of the desire for social change – from the immediate sense of doing good unto others to the more critical sense of challenging power relations and offering alternative to the existing social orders. What they all share is responsibility. Responsibility is a multifaceted term. In its narrowest sense, it has to do with caring for the other, or in the present context, our responsibility for the place we live in and the environment in which we operate. In Hebrew, the words other (אחר) and responsibility (אחריות) are related. In English, when the word responsibility is deconstructed and then reconstructed, we obtain the expression “ability to respond”, indicating another important sense of the term: the ability – some would say the obligation – to speak up, to make a stand, to respond, to act.

I believe many of you would agree that much of the program’s strength lies exactly in that. The Hoffman table is home to fellows who are not only academically outstanding, but also speak up, make a stand, respond and act in a variety of social areas – identity, culture, education, nationality, gender, etc. And although each and every one of you fellows is ultimately a private individual, your social activities bring to that table the voices of diverse groups in Israeli society: Jews, Arabs, secular, religious, Mizrahi, Ashkenazi, LGBT, people with disabilities, migrant workers, African refugees, within and behind the line – and I must have forgotten some groups. Thus, the Hoffman Program, despite its closed structure and particular characteristics, operates as a microcosm of Israeli society.

What is interesting and unique to it is that its fellows are engaged in the most intensive stage of academic research.  Familiar to all doctoral students, this stage requires us to focus on ourselves, and it could be expected that precisely at this stage we would shed our other responsibilities and devote ourselves to our PhDs. In fact, the precise opposite occurs. Hoffman fellows are here not only by virtue of academic excellence, but because they choose, every day, to respond, to act and to change from within the academic sphere, without for the moment compromising on the quality of their research.

Over the past six years, I have been exposed to significant social activism, pursued with gentleness and modesty, which I find amazing. I owe the privilege of being here to Prof. Amalia Oliver, Prof. Hanoch Gutfreund, Profs. Roy Bar and Lital, who brought me back, and enabled me to respond as well. I don’t know how often people get the opportunity to work with such intelligent, sensitive people who are not only fascinating as individuals, but constantly assume the responsibility to act for a better society within and outside the academic sphere. And if this is not leadership and responsibility, then I don’t know what leadership and responsibility are.

A final word to the fellows whose cohort I have accompanied from your interviews as candidates to your graduation. As you venture out into society as Hoffman alumni, I wish you all the best in whatever role you choose to play, whether in academia, industry, teaching and society in general. Having seen the fruits of your labor, I can say in Hebrew:

יגעתם ומצאתם – תאמינו. ותגיבו




Hoffman Program Graduation Ceremony - Class of 2014

2017 Speech on behalf of the fellows

Itay Sisso


Good evening,

I was asked to say a few words about the program, the journey we took together if you will, "and make it personal" they added, "and not too long… you are not the only speaker". "You should be fine" I thought to myself, "you're a Hoffman. Hoffmans like to talk… Right?", well, maybe I myself am not such a good example for that. But Hoffmans do like to talk, argue even. Sometimes it even seems that's most of what we do – argue, preferably using fancy words. I mean don't get me wrong, people here ARE doing some amazing stuff, socially, academically… We are academics at the end of the day, so criticism is in our blood. We understand it. John Wooden, a famous American Basketball coach, once said – "Whatever you do in life, surround yourself with smart people who'll argue with you". So sounds we are doing it right right place then.

But Hoffman is much more than that of course. As Mishi said yesterday – Hoffman is a clear outlier when it comes to reducing the other to mere stereotypes. Hoffman is a celebration of diversity - cultural/national/theological/sexual/recial and what have you. Muslim, Christian, Jew, Atheist, Sefaradic or Ashkenaz, Straight or Gay, Male or Female, Black, White, Brown, Purple – we welcome all. Well, as long as you're not right-wing.

Participants' diversity is not the only place where Hoffman makes alleged opposites work together.

Hoffman is receiving a generous support, and giving to society.

Hoffman is condescending ivory tower academy, with mother Teresa's empathy and compassion.

Hoffman is throwing accusations in inflammatory discussions, and apologizing on the Sunday evening e-mail.

Hoffman is mathematical rational rigor, and abstract philosophical contemplations.

Hoffman is a James Joyce's Ulysses, along Albert Einstein's General theory of relativity.

In two words - Complementary Opposites.

I tried to capture another two opposites of the Hoffman experience in the following free verse poem I wrote. Now, it might sound harsh and cynical at the beginning, but please wait till the end, there's a catch ;)



The only thing people do in Hoffman is argue.

So don’t try to tell me that

We are the proof that people from various backgrounds can truly listen to each other

Because at the end of the day

"You can never make two ends meet".

It's naïve to believe that

We can make a difference. That we are all future leaders, respectful, kind and peace loving.

After three years in Hoffman, I truly think that

Nothing really changed, and tomorrow morning we wake up to the same cynical reality

And even if

There IS hope,

It won't come from us because it takes true leaders.

It's not true that

It's all in our heads


True peace and wellbeing can be attained

Only among similar people.

It's not true that mutual respect exists

I'm sure you can agree that

The reality


Our attitude -


We should give up on

Peace and harmony.

Embrace this state of mind -

We all have an aggressive nature.

Always remember this, and don't try to convince me

We can make a change.


And now – read from bottom to top…


-Hoffman Program Graduation Ceremony - Class of 2014

2017 Speech on behalf of the fellows

Roni Mikel


I would like to welcome Professor Menahem Ben Sasson, president of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Sue Hoffman, who honored us with her presence here today; Harry and Sylvia back home in Australia; members of the academic management of the Harry and Sylvia Hoffman Leadership and Responsibility Program; program fellows; friends; and families.

Good evening.

In the summer of 2013, twelve of us received the exciting call from Lital, who told us that we were accepted to the three-year Hoffman Leadership and Responsibility Fellowship program. It was at the end of my first and very lonely year of my PhD, and it made a big change for me. I arrived at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem after spending the previous five years at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, where I studied for my undergraduate and graduate degrees in politics and government. The transition to Jerusalem was not easy. Going from a very small and nurturing department to a strange and unknown place was a great challenge, and I spent most of my first year of research traveling between the Mount Scopus Library and the South African archives. However, my situation completely changed in October 2014, when I became part of a great and unique community—the Hoffman’s.

As in any community, even in our small one, we shared many moments of happiness and joy along with moments of personal sadness and pain. Many of us got married and established families over the last three years, and unfortunately, some of us have lost loved ones. As a community, we were there for each other in the celebrations as well as the difficult moments. Additionally, we closely followed the professional academic successes of our fellows, and there were many.

During the past three years, we all worked very hard to become doctoral-educated scholars. We have accomplished a great deal because of the people who have supported us financially, emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually. Of course, we are referring to our family and friends back home, but we are also referring to our Hoffman family—Harry, Silvia, Sue, and Joshua—and to the academic management of the program—Professor Amalia Oliver-Lumerman, Professor Hanoch Gutfreund, Professor Roi Baer, Dr. Yosepha Tabib-Calif, and the wonderful Lital Myers, who provided us with this home in which to grow.

The program gave us an opportunity for social involvement in addition to our academic activities. Our group sessions were not easy but nevertheless important. They were a mirror of the complex reality of the Israeli society, and we had some very heated discussions over issues of social justice, which most of the time were not over as the sessions ended. Most of the sessions left us with questions regarding our own identities, aspirations, and roles regarding social change, and it enriched us with a mixture of insight and aptitude.

Being an Historian, I was fascinated by the ways in which the issue of history and memory came up again and again during our sessions of the past three years. When we talked about the history of the Ethiopian Jews in Israel, or about the Yemenite Children Affair; when we talked about the disengagement from Gush Katif; when we talked about politics in the academia; even when we talked about the memory of the Holocaust, different and sometime conflicting narratives emerged from the speaker's stories, but also from our own discussions and experiences. This preoccupation with opposing narratives emerged in almost every discussion, is not a coincidence. As an Israeli, and even more so as a historian of South Africa, I learned in first-hand the importance of providing tangible evidence of memory for individuals, communities, and states.

In September 2014, a research report titled "Nation Formation and Social Cohesion: An Enquiry into the Hopes and Aspirations of South Africa," was launched by the Nelson Mandela Foundation. The report stated that the greatest challenges facing South African society is the eradication of historical and emerging inequalities and contended that the attainment of social cohesion depends critically on a sense of belonging that is related to material conditions of life and an overarching common identity that recognizes diversity.

Post-apartheid South Africa is in a particular moment of rapid change and as a result, many hegemonic concepts, including the idea of history and of factuality, are being questioned. While Colonial and apartheid era historical sources are situated under constant critique, the newly freed memories seek not just to be recorded, but also to be honored or commemorated. I chose to be a historian because I believe that the essence of social justice lies in acknowledging different narratives and memories.  The post-apartheid challenge is not only to give an authentic voice to non-white segments of the South African society, but also to give back the control over their own histories. This is relevant not only to South Africa, but also to all individuals, communities and nations, and to Israel in particular. The Program gave us a unique and rare opportunity to give voice to neglected parts and silenced narratives within the Israeli society, and although we have not always been able to give a platform to the various sides of every issue, dealing with these complexities has played a significant part in promoting social justice in our own community. 

In his autobiography, Nelson Mandela stated, "I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.” 

I would like to thank the Hoffman family for providing us with a community and a platform to actively promote social justice in our own ways. We will be forever grateful for this amazing experience.

Amalya, Roe, Ysepha, Hanoch and Lital, thank you all for believing in us. Your support and inspiration will be cherished in our hearts forever.

As for my fellow PhD students from the Hoffman Fellowship, I wish us all good luck on our academic paths. Our long walk is not ended; it is only the beginning. Let us continue to work for a better and just society.

          Good luck to us all.



Hoffman Program Graduation Ceremony - Class of 2013

Speech on behalf of the fellows

Saleh Khawaled, 2016


Good evening

Well, I wasn’t quite sure of what should I say to you today, and I figure that the best thing to do is to tell you a Hoffman story, my story and the story of each one of us during the last 3 years.

4 years ago, I got an invitation to come to an interview for this program: The Harry and Sylvia Hoffman Leadership and Responsibility Program. I did know at that time that the focus of this program is unique and different from the other PhD fellowship programs. Instead of just looking into our grades and academic achievements, we were asked to talk about our contribution to the society we live in, and our real life beyond the academic world. Do not get me wrong, our academic achievements were not neglected at all.

At that interview, I met Amalya for the first time (among the other interview committee members), asking me about my work, research and volunteering. To tell you the truth, I came to the interview already doing some volunteering that might be called a project, though I was not sure that I really fit the program requirements or not.

A few weeks later, I got a phone call from Lital, telling me the good news: you are in, congratulations. You will be receiving an email with the details about the next year meetings, and I was like …. O.K. …. Meetings ….. Schedule (will see about it). At that point, I did not know what to expect, what are these meetings about and mostly who are the people that I will be meeting with.


Coming from Hadassah (The Hebrew University medical campus) all I had in mind is everything about the human body, structure, physiology and diseases (especially cancer – my main research). Fast enough I realized that this is not the dictionary I will need around here, another dictionary is needed: the Har Hatsofeem dictionary (to be honest with you sometimes I did not even understand the words, גנטרפקציה, would be a great example).

For me this was already an achievement, meeting other people, discussing new stuff, not mentioning any more DNA, proteins or even cancer. Instead, we talked about daily issues in the Israeli society in quiet and non-quiet days as well.

Too fast, I found myself waiting for these Sundays on which I moved to Har Hatsofeem, flipped the CD inside my brain and did not talk any more molecular biology.

Life was not that bright all the time, as we had our conflicts inside the group, while dealing with hot topics such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the structure of the Israeli society or even dealing with problematic guests. These conflicts did not tear us apart (as we are a highly heterogeneous group), instead we became stronger and more united, as we learned together how to listen, respect, argue and put some limits when needed.

For me these 3 years can be divided into 3 main steps: the first step was to understand what leadership and responsibility means, the second was looking for such leaders in our society and having them to tell us the story of their success. Finally, becoming one and dealing with the highly complex issues of our close environment.


Meanwhile each one of us did his part of making this world a better place, by volunteering in different places, by building new programs or by looking for answers along with others for problems around us. We had successful moments, but faced some failure as well. We learned from each other and listened to each other stories to improve our own work and experience.

I feel grateful, for getting the opportunity to be a member of this community.

I feel grateful for a unique PhD experience, way beyond just doing research

I feel really grateful for meeting you guys and mostly for being a Hoffman

As Amalya said to us: once a Hoffman, always a Hoffman


Thank you Amalya, Hanoch, Roi Yosepha and Lital for believing in me and in each one of us

Thank you Dear Harry, Sylvia and the Hoffman family for making it possible for all of this to happen

Thank You all 


Hoffman Program Graduation Ceremony - Class of 2013

Speech on behalf of the fellows

Nachumi Yaffe, 2016


Thank you all for coming and celebrating with us today. Thank you Menechem Ben Sassuen the current president and Menechem megidor the former President for honor us with your presence. (and stress  me :-)

 A few weeks ago I was with Shulamit Pinchkover, an Hoffman alumni  in N.Y., we were at a Shabbos table and she had other Israeli guest, and one of them said something on Moroan Machol. I commented something in return [I don’t even remember what  ] so he gave me a nasty look and asked, Are you truly an Ultra-orthodox woman? I said “yes of course, born & raised,” so he asked me, “for g-d sakes what do you have to do with Moroan Machol, how do you even know about him at all?” Than Shlumit and I looked at each other and said, “Hoffman”.

I grow up in a Hassidic family and lived in Yerushlyim almost all my life. When I decide to go to university I managed to reduce my anxiety by telling myself that it is not going to such a strange world after all, Jerusalem is a mixed city, I meet secular people in the street and at the mall. I thought of myself as a very open minded, well rounded person. I read literature, sneaked in some movies & even knew ABBA, I thought I was  well acquainted with the secular culture, oh, little did I know.   

 And … I arrived to the mountain hit reality and realized I don’t even have the same l language as the other students. I was literally missing words to explain my world to people. They all spoke israelit, and it turns out I was speaking Haredit, close but not the same. I felt lost.

 And I was very fortunate, very very fortunate to get in to Hoffman. Hoffman was my chance to understand the Israeli society, and more than that, a chance to feel part of it.

I realize that I am describing my own personal journey, but from talking to people I know that a lot of us feel very much the same. In many ways, we all are strangers to each other. The Israeli society is divided, communities are separate and stigmatized so we tell our self that we knew them but this is an illusion, and normally we don't get a chance to discover we were wrong. University was an opportunity for me to realize that I don't know. And Hoffman was my chance to do something about it.

 In my native terminology Hoffman is a Yeshiva, it's a beit midersh. Harri and Selvia, I know you have a school in Perth, Carmel, but you also have a yeshiva, small one on one of the mountain of Yerushlym. 

If I try to compere this Yeshiva to other Yeshivot, one similar example comes to mind this is the yeshiva of Shem Vever, Yeshivat shem Vever was the yeshiva that Avraham Avino want to learn and the place to which Rievka wend to consult when she had an inner struggle and the yeshiva in which Yaakov studies for 14 years. There is a historical debate where this Yeshiva was located and what they were learning but what's stuck with me is the name of the Yeshiva, Shem Vever, which their literate meaning is Sham- name. and Ever- oppose, or across like מעבר לנהר ישבו אבותינו.

To call something by its name is to relate to it, and to identify it. I think that in many ways this corresponds to what we were doing in Yeshivet Hoffman, we were trying to call  reality & things by their name, and to understand what's Ever, what is the price of being across the street  , the Ever, to try monthly cross the street and see how it looks like from there.

In Yeshivat Hoffman we tearing apart the alienation we have to the other Israeli citizens and communities, and to ourselves. In Hoffman we call it by name, we argue, we care, we really care

I feel privileged to had this great opportunity. A place where I can get closer to other Israeli segments and communities. An opportunity to get to know people like Moroan Machol, Ziva Noy, Harv Rimon and many many more that I didn't even know I don't know.

 I want to thank Harry and Sylvia for this rare opportunity to get close and to be part of the Israeli society,and to get to know myself better. I want to wish you lots of נחת from your family, and from your Yeshiva graduate.

I want to thank to Hanoch for the inspiration you give us. The special stories and insights you shared with us, and the young spirit you bring along. It's really something to live up to. אויף אונז געזאגט

Amalya, for the endless thought and time you put in this program, for the wisdom and sensitivity you lead this ship, always keeping a balance. Embracing us all as children  

To Yosefa, for the graceful way you handle us. For the great ideas you have, and personal touch that you relate to every single one of us.

Lital the a truly אשת חיל how she makes everything happen, smoothly, never miss a detail Making sure each of us is happy and visible.

Finally, my colleges in the present and the past for being such an important part of my personal journey. I want to wish us lots of luck, may we publish many articles, they should all get into AAA journal, and may we all continue to care, My we will continue to fight the alienation the inner and the outer  May we have the courage to call  reality by name.



Hoffman Program Graduation Ceremony - Class of 2012

Speech on behalf of the fellows

Galit Agmon, 2015


The Hoffman family, Hoffman directors and administration, Hoffman fellows, dear guests, How would one summarize three years? The last three years were very intense, and the Hoffman program was definitely one of the foundations to be remembered from this period. I still remember the first meeting I came to I was shocked. The people around me seemed so impressive, smart, menacing even. What am I doing here? How do I fit in? As time went by I felt less and less out of place. The people here became part of my personal and social journey. The social journey relates naturally to running Common Ground, an organization to raise awareness to gender stereotypes in
education system. Founding and running Common Ground was one of the most significant and fulfilling things I have ever done. When I came to the Hoffman program, I had already started to plant the seeds, and the Hoffman program was a supportive and inspiring environment that helped the seeds grow to what they are today. I am proud of the place Common Ground stands in now with over 60 volunteers in two cities, a nonprofit organization approved by the ministry of education, taking its place as a leading educational organization in Israel. I thank the Common Ground team and cofounders, some of whom are sitting here today, and I thank my fellows at the
Hoffman program for believing in me and in Common Ground. And when I talk about a social journey, I am not speaking only about myself and on my behalf, but about each and every one of us, who found the Hoffman program to be the supporting pivot in our volunteering experience be it tutoring children, broadcasting Israeli stories, assisting new immigrants, or caring for the welfare of cows.
As a personal journey, I learned that I belonged, which is not a trivial thing to learn at all. It took me time to realize that the smart impressive people whom I remembered from .that first meeting I am actually part of them. We all belong. Thank you for that as well
But other than this journey, there are two fundamental values that I felt were prominent and stressed out in this program and I will take with me criticism and empathy. Sometimes it seems like the two are contradictory. Showing empathy means perhaps being less judgemental, while criticizing means perhaps alienating oneself from the emotional drive or state of the other. But this is not true, because both empathy and critical thinking complement each other as an integral part of compassion. Being compassionate is feeling for others with an active move to help. Without casting doubt and being critical, change to a better place can never be made. Without empathy
one cannot feel for the other or appreciate what has already been achieved by others. Being compassionate means both things.
I learned that there are many good people in the world, trying to make a change. Sometimes it works well, sometimes less. We should never take for granted our privilege to discuss and digest ideas, to have the time to consult, point at flaws and learn from mistakes. This is indeed a privilege which not all social entrepreneurs out there have, and it doesn't alienate us or make us less empathetic. Appreciating the good with the bad and learning from both that's a merit of being compassionate.
Another thing I take from here is the personal connections. The fellows of the program are truly wonderful people and wonderful friends. I do hope we keep in touch and meet again in future paths in life. And of course the heads of the program. Amalya, Roi, Hanoch, Yosepha and Lital it's not just the sensitivity and professional care in which you run this program, it's also the personal touch that will not be forgotten phone
calls, personal meetings with each and every one of you, emails, and generally simply caring in the most basic and personal level, outside the biweekly hours. Thank you. The Hoffman family Harry, Sylvia, Sue and Josh (and David who is not here) without you all this would not have been possible. You are the basis of this group of people, empathetic people who care and feel for others, critical people who strive to make a change. Compassionate people. Thank you very much.


Hoffman Program Graduation Ceremony - Class of 2012

Speech on behalf of the fellows

Sheli Friedman, 2015


This year we have decided to honor you with gifts and souvenirs in the spirit of the program, the spirit of giving, helping the other and being social responsible persons and leaders for the weak, for the strong, for our country and in general.


To you, Harry and Sylvia, the initiators and inspiration of the program, we chose to give this Chanukia/ Menora – a symbol of light and miracles, shaped with Jerusalem most special landmarks.


The Menora, or Chanukia is composed of 8 branches and one "shamash". In accordance to the Hoffman program, the body and soul of this program are 8 magnificent people – Sylvia, Sue, Josh, David, Hanoch, Amalya, Roi, and Lital, all lit (up?) by the main  "shamash" – Harry, that made this all possible.    


This Chanukia, was purchased from the voluntary association "yad lakashish", "lifeline for the old", a non- profit organization empowering and supporting the elderly Jerusalem residents on a daily basis, as a donation from us, and was hand-made by them.


On the behalf of the Israeli leaders of the Hoffman program and our alternative mentors - Hanoch, Amalya, Roi, Lital and Yosefa – we gave a donation to the voluntary association for immediate help for holocaust survivors, a subject close to all our hearts.


For you - Sue, Josh, Hanoch, Amalya, Roi and Lital – we give special wines from Tulip Winery that is situated on the grounds of Kfar Tikva. The Winery integrates the production of quality wines with social responsibility and aspires to enable members of the community to develop and realize their potential. Kfar Tikva, “the village of the hope” is a kibbutz-like community, represents an innovative program for adults with developmental and emotional disabilities.


Kfar Tikva believes that each and every individual should be given the opportunity to achieve their potential, regardless of their limitation. Tulip Winery helps Kfar Tikva achieve its mission by employing adult residents with special needs and providing them the opportunity for inclusion in the mainstream workforce.

The residents take an active part in harvesting the grapes, bottling and packaging of the wine, and welcoming and receiving guests at Tulip Winery Visitor Center.


As Tulip Winery says “We label wines, not people&rdquo