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Hebrew University receives a mighty grant

by michael May 10 2008
Municipal news


Imagine it green.


 Prepare to insert all the puns you want about planting seeds for the future, because Jerusalemite is going to resist the impulse: the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's agricultural school, which is in, um, Rehovot (probably because there's little decent farm land in the scrubby, rock-strewn hills of Jerusalem), has just received a $15 million grant from an American foundation. The Staten Island Advance, a newspaper with the enticing slogan "Everything Staten Island," has the scoop:

The Robert H. Smith Family Foundation pledged a $15 million challenge grant to transform the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's Faculty of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Quality Sciences in Rehovot, Israel.

The gift will be the cornerstone of the university's and American Friends of Hebrew University's "Feeding the Future through Sustainable Agriculture" campaign, a $51 million reorganization and expansion plan that will broaden and accelerate the University's cutting-edge interdisciplinary research in plant and animal sciences, biochemistry, nutrition and environmental studies.

In recognition of the Foundation's generosity the Faculty will be renamed "The Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Quality Sciences." American Friends of the Hebrew University (AFHU) is launching a $15 million fund-raising campaign, seeking support from other American philanthropists and foundations.

This can't be anything but a positive development; the kibbutzim, the breadbaskets of Israel, are flagging as the founding generation passes away and their best and brightest leave home to make a grab for the shiny gold ring of capitalism (leaving an increasing amount of agricultural labor to foreign workers), meaning that a reassessment and rearrangement of Israel's agricultural system may be inevitable. Meanwhile, there still remains a whole lot of desert that nobody has bothered to get a-bloomin'. Hopefully the revitalized Hebrew U agricultural program will inspire more Israelis to tap into the vein of affection and respect for working the land that runs through the Zionist narrative.

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