Letter from Our CEO

November 3, 2023


Dear Friends,

"We are not alright." Those emotional and powerful words were spoken by New York City Mayor Eric Adams at a rally in support of Israel on October 13th. I believe that sentence encapsulated how we are feeling now and how we will likely feel for the foreseeable future.

While we may be not alright, we are resilient. Israeli society and her supporters around the world have come together to do everything possible to support Israel, such as providing financial support, sending supplies, volunteering to help with agriculture on the kibbutzim in the south, or Israelis opening their homes to displaced families and feeding soldiers. The Tel Aviv University (TAU) community, like Israel, is strong and has already mobilized. I would like to share with you a few of the incredible things the University is doing to support the war effort.

During a webinar briefing, The PTSD Fallout from the War with Hamas, Professor Yair Bar-Haim, a world-renowned expert on PTSD and the Director of the Center for Traumatic Stress and Resilience at Tel Aviv University, estimated that there will be more than 30,000 new cases of PTSD and trauma that will need to be treated. Professor Bar-Haim's computerized intervention program to mitigate PTSD is currently being used by all IDF soldiers as part of their training. He is now working in cooperation with the IDF and Israeli government to quickly open a clinic to provide immediate treatment for soldiers and civilians. In addition, Professor Bar-Haim has been tasked with managing the psychological care for the hostages. The directive is to treat at least 1,000 patients this year but the goal is to be able to serve 4,000 patients. The only challenging factor is funding. If you want to ensure treatment for the maximum number of people, both soldiers and civilians, please donate here.

In addition to establishing the TAU Emergency Fund, to provide funding for critical mental health services and financial support to the over 5,000 students who are serving in the reserves, as well as other needs, the University has:

  • Opened campus dorms for displaced families from the south and north and is providing housing free of charge.
  • Worked with a group of international students who have formed a task force to combat the social media disinformation campaign and share factual information.
  • Teams of students from the Faculty of Medicine have collected medical supplies and equipment for the IDF and are volunteering in hospitals.
  • TAU is hosting a kindergarten — moved from Tel Aviv because it lacked a proper bomb shelter — at the campus library.

A team of Tel Aviv University researchers led by Dr. Michal Kahn from the School of Psychological Sciences has begun an important intervention program to help 500 children from the most severely attacked communities deal with the nightmares caused by the October 7th invasion. The team is distributing 500 DreamChanger devices to children who were victims of the attacks. The DreamChanger, which looks like a television remote, emits a calming blue light and has a button that kids can press to "change their dreams." According to Dr. Kahn, the underlying therapeutic rationale is to foster the children's sense of control and leverage their capacity for imagination by putting the power in their hands. The goal is to be able to distribute DreamChangers to every one of Israel's children who are in need.

Students who are serving such as Ori, a medical student, or Nathanel, a law student, are why we work to keep Tel Aviv University and Israel strong. They are the future, and we must help ensure they are able to continue their education after they are release from service. In case you didn't see it, United Against Terrorism was a moving exhibit mounted by TAU's student union and TAU to honor the victims of the October 7th attack on Israel. The group used the 1,000-seat Smolarz Auditorium on TAU's campus to display pictures of victims who were abducted, murdered, or missing on October 7th. The exhibit puts faces with the names of victims and drives home the scale of the loss.

Tel Aviv University is the largest research university in Israel, but that is not our current focus. We have pivoted to help people — soldiers and civilians. It is with your help that TAU can amplify its contribution to the war effort. So while it is true that with war in Israel we are not alright, we are resilient and doing all we can to help.

Praying for the safe return of the hostages and peace in Israel. Wishing you a shabbat shalom.

Jennifer Gross
Chief Executive Officer