When asked by Professor Uriel Reichman, Founder and President of IDC Herzliya, to head up the Raphael Recanati International School (RRIS), I was humbled and proud that he had selected me for such an important mission. Having left Columbia University in 1969 to finish my BA in 1971 as a lone student at the Hebrew University and after graduating, becoming a lone soldier in Sayeret Tzanchanim (reconnaissance unit of the IDF paratrooper brigade), I had come full circle and was now being given the invaluable opportunity to make a difference in the lives of these students. Like myself and many ESRA members who had left the ease of their home countries, many had joined the IDF and were here for their love of Israel.
Having begun with 30 students in the RRIS, we have come a long way. Today, almost 20 years later, the RRIS has over 2000 students from 90 different countries and it pleases me greatly that over 40% are comprised of students from English-speaking countries. We believe that the secret to our success is to not create unnecessary hurdles for these youngsters such as language barriers and culturally biased entrance exams. We have worked hard in refining and sensitizing ourselves to the needs of our international students by doing away with bureaucratic hurdles "made in Israel" and providing the opportunity of completing degrees in English, all taught by world-renowned lecturers, many from Ivy League universities. In addition to this, we prioritize a high level of care and attention from our RRIS team, who provide a "home away from home", helping students to adjust to their new environment in Israel.
Those who wish to remain in Israel also have the opportunity of learning Hebrew on campus, so by the end of their studies, they have the tools to be employed in Israel. Indeed, we call ourselves the largest academic absorption center in the country. Those who wish to return to their home countries, go on to become great ambassadors for the State of Israel and provide future leadership for their communities. Today, we have thousands of graduates worldwide, offering our alumni an amazing array of networking opportunities. But it gives me great satisfaction that a significant number of these students choose to remain in Israel, after completing their degrees, thus fulfilling our Zionist role, as ambassadors for Israel. Their economic, social, strategic and Zionist impact on our country is priceless. Furthermore, of our 2000 international students more than 300 are former lone soldiers and over 100 International school students joined the IDF upon graduation.
The spirit of IDC Herzliya is its Zionist approach. The university was created to do good for the State of Israel and create a future cadre of leadership. The humanistic values are those of Herzl, Jabotinsky, Ben Gurion and Begin. These are values which strive for a Jewish and democratic State, by the people for the people with the minority in mind. It is a Zionism of freedom and responsibility. IDC Herzliya is a great believer in entrepreneurship, free enterprise, capitalism, but at the same time is very sensitive to those in Israeli society who are in need of our assistance.
Our philosophy is that our students are our partners, and this is strengthened by our small intimate classes which allow the students to get to know each other and the staff. IDC Herzliya receives no funding from the government of Israel and everything which has been accomplished to date has been through hard work, determination and a love of Zionism.