(JNS.org) Israeli President Reuven Rivlin formally opened the academic year at Jerusalem’s Bezalel Academy praising the 111-year-old art institution’s diversity as an example of his vision of “Israeli Hope.”
After meeting with students, alumni and lecturers, Rivlin reflected on the growing diversity of Israel and the importance of bringing together the country’s communities.
"Israel's society has been undergoing far-reaching changes in recent decades,” Rivlin said. “Today it is made up of four groups – secular, Modern Orthodox, Arab, and ultra-Orthodox – each of increasing parity in size though each with very different world views. The separate education systems in which they learn only widens the divides between them.”
Founded in 1906, the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design is considered the birthplace of Israel’s art culture. This year, the school will host 2,000 undergrads and 200 graduate students at its Jerusalem campus.
“Our students and the communities they represent in more than 106 towns throughout the country are growing,” said Bezalel’s President Professor Adi Stern. “A decade ago there were only 16 Arab students throughout the academy, and today we are proud to have over 100 students from this demographic, close to half of them coming from east Jerusalem. We have an unimaginably popular and innovative program specifically catered to the more than 150 orthodox women studying art and architecture at Bezalel, the first and only program of its kind in the world.”