November 30, 2023

Thursday, 21 September, 2023 • 5 pm Israel Time|10 am EST

Please note: This episode was recorded  before the events of October 7

In the face of rising antisemitism, many Jewish and Israeli families abroad are considering Israel as a destination for their children’s studies. In the latest episode of the Global Connection podcast, host Dr. Anna Sajecki talks with renowned diplomat, entrepreneur, and academic Dr. Ronen Hoffman about his involvement in launching the new Exploration, Leadership, and Innovation (ELI) program at Tel Aviv University — an immersive and academically rigorous gap-year program for Jewish students.

The ELI program turns the idea of a gap year program on its head, offering a college prep program for Jewish youth, anchored in academic excellence leadership training, immersive learning, and exploration, focusing on engagement with Judaism, Jewish culture, and the Start-Up Nation.

Global Connection Podcast – Episode #23 (Credit: The Lowy International School)

Dr. Hoffman studied political science at Tel Aviv University, worked as an information officer in the Israeli consulate in Atlanta, and served as a personal aide to Yitzhak Rabin. He coordinated the Israeli delegation to peace talks with Syria between 1992 and 1994 and founded the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, now known as Reichman University, in 1996.

Dr. Hoffman explains that the ELI program is “a great bridge for young people around the world to come to Israel and be with Israelis and experience Israel at Tel Aviv University.”

Drawing on his life experiences, he adds that people can get inspired by leaders – not necessarily political leaders, but leaders of all kinds. “I was inspired by [Yitzhak] Rabin for many of the decisions and choices that I’ve made in my life, in terms of the desire to teach leadership, the desire to even get involved in politics and international relations,” he says. The purpose of the new program is to help students “prepare themselves for the future, for university life and college life, and also for their role in their own communities.”

The program will start in Fall 2024, with admissions set to open this December. Students will have access to a variety of mentorship, leadership, and cultural workshops and activities, and will take for-credit courses across five key areas: Israel and the Middle East; Jewish Peoplehood; Entrepreneurship and Innovation; Environment and Sustainability; and the Best of Science and Human Thought. The curriculum is designed to span an entire academic year (10 months, August 2024-May 2025); however, students may apply for a single semester, either in the fall or spring (August 2024 or January 2025).

>> Learn more or apply to ELI through the program webpage:

The Global Connection Podcast

Sponsored by the Lowy International School at Tel Aviv University (TAU), The Global Connection reveals how TAU’s academic community and friends are engaging with this ever-changing world. Host Dr. Anna Sajecki interviews visiting scholars, international students, TAU professors, and others working on global issues and topics.

The Global Connection podcast can be found on Spotify and YouTube. Episodes are released weekly on Wednesdays.