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Bequests to state of Israel contribute to continued academic research

President Reuven Rivlin with the twelve doctoral students who received a prize for their theses
 President Reuven Rivlin with the twelve doctoral students who received a prize for their theses. (photo credit: MARK NEYMAN/GPO)

Twelve doctoral students who are being mentored at various Israeli universities on Tuesday received grants of NIS 150,000 each on the basis of their theses on various research subjects. The grants were distributed at a ceremony at the President’s Residence by President Reuven Rivlin and former Jerusalem District Court judge Shulamit Dotan, who heads the bequests department at the Justice Ministry.

There are many Jews and non-Jews who make bequests to the State of Israel or leave part or all of their estates to the State of Israel.

The accumulated funds from these bequests are used for many social welfare and educational purposes, said Dotan, who emphasized that in an era dominated by hi-tech, studies in the humanities take on special significance.

All 12 grantees are engaged in researching subjects related to the humanities.

The funds, which are overseen by custodian-general Sigal Yaakobi, will be sent to bursars of the universities at which the grantees are studying and will cover the cost of their studies, as well as sundry expenses.

Former governor of the Bank of Israel Karnit Flug, who headed the nine-member committee that read the applications, said it was difficult to make final choices because there was so much interesting and varied material, much of which was interdisciplinary. It was particularly fascinating for her because she comes from a completely different discipline, she said.

Many of the doctoral students who submitted applications are engaged not only in research but also volunteer in their communities.

What interested Flug most in terms of the most frequent conclusions that came out of the different research projects was the desire for greater social solidarity, the need to restore public confidence in state institutions, and the extent to which public protest influences politics and the economy.
This is the third successive year in which these grants have been awarded with the goal of encouraging academic excellence and innovative thought.

Rivlin, whose flagship Israel Hope project calls for the social, educational and work-force integration of all sectors of Israeli society, saw part of that ambition realized among the grantees who included immigrants from Ethiopia, France, the US and Ukraine, native Israelis who are secular, and three haredim – two females and one male – who all have bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

The male haredi recipient, Yitzhak Trachtengut, is a father of seven children.

There were no Arabs among the grantees.

Rivlin based his address on Israeli sovereignty. After 70 years, he said sufficient time had passed for Israelis to take an in-depth inwards look at society and the nation, to ponder peace, to have a vision for the future, and to be accepting of the other.

“We have to  ensure that all people living under our sovereignty have equal rights,” he said.

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