Nearly 30 years to the day after an Israeli diplomat was gravely wounded in an assassination attempt in London, an English-language program bearing his name has produced a new cadre of graduates who are considering careers in public service.
On June 3, 1982, Israel's Ambassador to Britain, Shlomo Argov, was shot in the head by Palestinian assailants as he attended a dinner in London. Argov was permanently incapacitated and was hospitalized in Jerusalem for 21 years until his death in 2003 at the age of 73.
Thursday night, at a reception at the Lauder School of Government at the IDC-Herzliya, five four-member teams of Argov fellows in leadership and diplomacy presented summaries of their "capstone" projects - comprehensive solutions they are proposing to problems facing Israeli society and the Jewish people.
Amitai Fraiman - a 25-year-old Jerusalem native, and the son of an English and civics teacher from Boston and a university lecturer from New York City - laid out an argument for a community-based structure of elected rabbinic leaders that would replace Israel's Chief Rabbinate.
This summer, Fraiman has been accepted to a Tikvah Fund-sponsored academic seminar in Jewish philosophy for exceptional students at Princeton University entitled "Jewish Thought and Enduring Human Questions."
"I am interested in education and working together with religious and non-religious groups," says Fraiman, a former tank commander in the Israel Defense Forces. In the future he says he might consider getting involved in Israel's political sphere, or in its social-action movement.
Six program cohorts have produced 125 graduates from 21 different countries - with nearly half coming from Anglo backgrounds, according to Dr. Alisa Rubin Peled, who directs the program. Alumni usually move on to major graduate and fellowship programs before securing positions in the public, private and nonprofit sectors both in Israel and abroad.
"We try to help students acquire the knowledge, tools and skills necessary for working towards meeting the many challenges that Israel faces in today's complex global environment," says Rubin, a native of Rockville, Maryland, who has continued to develop the program since its inception in 2006. Core courses in the program include public speaking, writing and communications.
Yoav Susz, a 27-year-old native of Israel who grew up in London, will begin his internship with an Israeli corporate law firm in the fall. With three years of experience in the field of Israel advocacy, he says the Argov program has him considering a career in politics or diplomacy. “It’s been inspiring and it opened up my thinking in new ways,” says Susz. “It has given me a push in the right direction.”
Lily Seguin, a 23-year-old immigrant from Montreal, Canada, plans to pursue a career in international development. As part of her capstone project, she attempted to measure the sense of affiliation that Israel’s Druze and Bedouin communities feel toward Israel. She conducted a survey and proposed specific solutions aimed at heightening their sense of belonging on several levels and at different stages of life.
“I think my father’s legacy lives on with these students,” says program founder Gideon Argov, president and CEO of Entegris, a Boston-area global technology firm, who attended last night’s reception. “I think he would be very proud.”
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now