Brookes University Scholarship for Israeli Student
The Sam Zuckerberg Israel Scholarship is a unique and transformational scholarship which brings an Israeli postgraduate student to study on a one year masters course at Oxford Brookes University. What makes it unique is the connection between the scholar and the Jewish community in Oxford who set up and originally funded the scholarship. Members of the community and their friends provided the funds to set up the scholarship, pay the fees and living costs. The scholars deeply appreciate this and engage with the community as well as the local Jewish student life. What makes the scholarship transformational is the success that scholars have had over the years in changing the perception of Israel and Israelis on campus among their peers, the wider student body and the university as a whole.
Elad Almog: International Hotel and Tourism Management
"I learned how people from other cultures think about globalism, and how closely related is their perception of Israel and Israelis to their willingness to collaborate with us. Today I'm about to submit my PhD thesis and am working with the public sector to help shape tourism policy in the Dead Sea region. I believe a global perspective will help shape the future development of Southern Israel. Without my time at Brookes, this approach would not have been possible."
Yasmin Haj Amer: English Teaching as a Foreign Language
"English is the language of the world..... it has to be the language of the Bedouin student as well. Coming to the UK and studying at Oxford Brookes (gave me) the chance to meet great and intelligent people. The Scholarship changed me. ... allowed me to see another community which allows everybody to talk freely and allows a woman to talk freely about her ideas and opinions. When I returned home I convinced other Bedouin girls to fight for their right too ... to study at university."
Anya Shani: Business Management, (first SZ Scholar)
"Little did I know just how much my time and studies at Oxford Brookes would lay the foundation for my future in Israel.The interaction at Brookes with people from different cultures and religions from all over the world directly impacted my role today as Director of Culture and Events at the Jerusalem International YMCA."
Yael Vitelson: Human Resource Management
What makes this scholarship exceptional is the support from the Oxford Jewish Congregation who make me feel I have a home from home. The Scholarship has changed my life. Following my studies, I secured a job at Check Point, a leading cyber security company, as an international recruiter. The options that are now open to me are numerous. I would like to thank the Sam Zuckerberg donors for investing in me and helping me recognise my potential. I hope that one day I'll be in your seat and help students achieve their aspirations."
After her year was complete, Yael and another student were jointly awarded the Oxford Brookes CIPD Student Prize for 2016/17. This prize is in recognition of her overall performance on and contribution to the HRM programmes at the Business School. It recognises the significant roles she played in shaping and supporting the experience of her fellow students last year, her role as class representative and also her overall high standard of academic performance.
Yeshar Koach Yael!
Elel Eshed: Business Management & Marketing
"I am the only Israeli postgraduate student at the university and when I meet a new classmate the second thing I say after telling my name is that I am from Israel. Thanks for making me feel welcome, for the amazing Rosh Hashanah, Shabbat, Yom Kippur and Succot meals and all the social meetings at the university."
Auren Renford: International Hotel and Tourism Management
In an article in Brookes Alumni magazine, "Observe", Auren says that studying for his Masters at Brookes "was an amazing opportunity for a once in a lifetime experience" and that "Oxford Brookes is one of the best universities for learning about hospitality." He says that "the international vibe of Oxford was one of the best features of studying at Brookes." Auren with his wife Ortal, were like everyone else affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Thankfully it didn't prevent Auren from completing his course, though it did bring his otherwise happy time in Oxford to an early end. Auren returned to work at his previous company in Be'ersheva where as well as managing Airbnb's he is also managing a new hotel. He says, "I could not have afforded to live and study in the UK. It was a dream and without the scholarship would have stayed a dream. The scholarship changed my life."
A Brief History of the Scholarship
Back in 2009, members of the OJC began hearing how the Jewish students at Oxford Brookes University (OBU) were finding that the image of Israel was much misunderstood by their fellow students. Following discussions with the university, it was suggested to set up a scholarship to bring an Israeli student to Brookes with the idea that they would also be able to provide opportunities for presenting Israel on campus, and would encourage Arab-Israeli dialogue on campus and in the city. Subsequently, Sandra Dwek and Isaac Garson, both members of the Oxford Jewish Chaplaincy board, launched the initiative to set up the “Oxford Brookes University Israel Scholarship”.
Dr. George Blumberg from OBU and Adam Sterrie from the OJC council were co-opted onto a working group and fundraising duly started amongst the OJC members, family and friends. Contact was established with Ben-Gurion University and the search also began for the first recipient. In 2017 Phyllis Levicki joined the working group to assist and advise on fundraising.
As the work grew, news spread and there was even a mention in the House of Lords during a debate on water in the Middle East by Baroness Ruth Deech.
Thanks to the generosity of donors, enough funds were raised to select the first recipient to start in September 2012. However, with the economic climate becoming ever more challenging, the long term future of the scholarship seemed in doubt. Then in 2013 during a conversation between Professor Raymond Dwek and past chairman of the Board of Governors of BGU Roy J. Zuckerberg, the scholarship was mentioned. Upon hearing about both the transformational impact it was having and the unsure future, Roy asked if he could support the scholarship by giving a donation in memory of his late father Sam Zuckerberg z”l. The scholarship officially became known as the “Sam Zuckerberg Scholarship” and Anya Shani, who arrived at Brookes in September 2014, became the first recipient to receive the scholarship under its new name. The generosity of the donation has eased the burden of fundraising for the scholarship greatly although there is still a funding gap that needs to be filled.
More about the Scholarship
The scholarship is for post-graduate students from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) in Israel. It is intended to fund talented students from a range of disciplines in which Brookes has particular expertise. Students are selected on the basis of merit, academic ability, personal qualities and financial need; and the terms of the scholarship are sufficiently flexible to permit this.
The scholarship also contributes to “understanding between Israel and the Diaspora” as well as making a huge difference to the lives of the recipients. During the year, each recipient gains a much better understanding of Anglo-Jewish culture as well as British and student culture. They are also exposed to the British media and intelligentsia. By the end of the year, they have a much deeper and nuanced understanding about life in England which they will be able to share when they return to Israel.
Supporting the Scholarship
The scholarship began with funding from members of the Oxford Jewish Congregation and their friends. We now have been given a huge boost thanks to the generosity of Roy J. Zuckerberg, but we still need to raise a significant amount each year to keep the scholarship going. Please help us reach our target by donating and by telling people you know about the scholarship so that they can donate too.
How to Donate
To donate online please visit: www.brookesalumni.co.uk/isf
If you tick the box for Gift Aid, the government will donate the tax it took from you according to the size of your donation. Roughly speaking, for every £10 you donate, the government will donate a further £2.50. If you would like further information before contributing, you can contact Sandra or Isaac of the SZ Scholarship working group.