Letter from Our CEO

September 2020


Dear Friends,

September brings with it several milestones and anniversaries, both public and personal, that make me aware of how quickly time goes. In a week we will be celebrating Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and with it, beginning the high holidays. This period is traditionally one of introspection, taking stock of one’s life, and spending time with family and friends. While the gatherings may be different this year due to social distancing, the opportunity for prayer, reflection, and resolution remains the same.

One year ago, this week, I officially assumed my role as CEO of this incredible organization. How proud and excited I was then and remain even more so today, to have the opportunity and responsibility to generate interest and support for Tel Aviv University (TAU), the largest university in Israel. I am proud to share that the Kantor Center at TAU was part of a group of 125 international organizations which pressured Facebook to adopt the international definition of anti-Semitism in order to better fight anti-Semitism on-line. As a result of the international definition written by Professor Dina Porat, Head of the Kantor Center, Facebook made a change to their policy, a first step toward increased enforcement.

How proud I am on my first anniversary to share that TAU recently inaugurated the Shmunis School of Biomedicine and Cancer Research. Thanks to the generosity of the Shmunis family, life-saving work and research including developing new pharmaceuticals and improving the quality of patients’ lives will be done at this new school. The Shmunis’ vision and support will enable researchers to work at the forefront of science and discover novel approaches, further positioning TAU as a center of excellence and strengthening Israel as a global leader in cancer and molecular biomedical research.

There have been so many discoveries and breakthroughs in research from TAU during my first year — from advancement in the early detection of Parkinson's Disease to Dr. Natalia Freund making strides towards a Covid-19 vaccine using antibodies. From the announcement of TAU being ranked a top 100 innovation university in the world to the inception of the undergraduate dual degree program with Columbia University, the first-of-its-kind program for an Israeli university in which students will earn a degrees from both TAU and Columbia. Each discovery is an example of how much the university and Israel contribute to the world. My team and I are fortunate to bring you the developments and innovations coming from TAU.

Six months ago, AFTAU, like many organizations, started working remotely. As we approach the half year mark, I am proud that we have been able to share TAU's work with you through weekly webinars. Over thirty webinars can be found in the webinar library. I invite you to search by topic and experience firsthand the wonders of TAU.

We will continue to share the best of TAU, featuring professors as well as alumni who are leaders in their fields. Next Thursday, September 17th, our webinar "Using Your Brain In Business" features Moran Cerf, a TAU alumnus in conversation with Professor Uri Ashery, Head of the Sagol School of Neuroscience. You can register for the webinar here.

I want to acknowledge that today is the nineteenth anniversary of September 11th, a day that forever changed how Americans viewed the world and a day that remains a time for reflection and remembrance. As the twin beams of light shine in the New York skyline this Shabbat evening, we remember those we have tragically lost and vow to bring more positive energy into the world by continuing to amaze and excite you with news from TAU.

Wishing you a Shabbat shalom and an early shana tovah tikateyvu. May you be inscribed in the Book of Life for a good year.

Jennifer Gross
Chief Executive Officer