Ono Academic College | Higher Education Accessible to All

“The first time I experienced the many shades of multicultural Israel was at Ono,” says Yehonatan Shiman. Colorblind for all his 29 years, he “first saw different shades” when studying at Ono Academic College near Tel Aviv

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Yehonatan Shiman
Yehonatan ShimanCredit: Ono Academic College
Wendy Elliman
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Shiman’s play on words succinctly makes his point. “It was the first time that l was part of a community that included not only Jewish Israelis like myself, from places like Ramat Gan, but also Israelis with special needs, Muslims and Arabs, immigrants from Ethiopia, Russia and beyond, Druze and Bedouin, secular, observant and ultra-Orthodox Jews – a student body that reflects Israel’s entire population,” he recalls. “And, as a brand new law student, I couldn’t help but be aware that all of us, different as we are, live under Israeli law, equally governed by it and equally protected by it.”

Revital Steiner, 24, from a religious family in Herzliya, graduated from Ono’s Law School last year. “From my first day there, I knew the College was the right place for me,” she says. “I loved its embrace of diversity, I enjoyed its wonderful teaching, and I took full advantage of the many opportunities it sent my way.” Among those opportunities were international seminars which she attended at Yale, NYU and Fordham Universities in the US, WIPO in Switzerland and the University of London in the UK. Through Ono’s Shalom Comparative Research Center, headed by Prof. Shlomit Yanisky Ravid, she took part in discussions about labor law, intellectual property law and legal challenges posed by new technologies. “I even presented papers at some of the seminars, which gave me a chance to see how it feels to be a law lecturer!” she smiles.

Excellence and inclusiveness

Founded in 1995, Ono Academic College has campuses in Kiryat Ono, Jerusalem, Haifa, Netanya and Or Yehuda. It is Israel’s largest private college and its fastest growing institute of higher education, with over 16,000 students in its undergraduate and graduate programs and some 36,000 alumni in a spectrum of disciplines – Law, Accounting, Business Administration, Advertising & Marketing Communications, Health Professions (speech, occupational and sports therapy), Humanities & Social Sciences, Education, Music and Arts & Society.

The Ono Academic College Credit: Ono Academic College

Ono brings together academic excellence, inclusiveness and education-based social reform. “We make higher education accessible to communities and individuals who don’t believe they have a home in academia or don’t think that further study is for them. Higher education, valuable in and of itself, thus takes on additional meaning: it becomes a way of fostering social integration and shrinking economic and cultural gaps in Israeli society,” says Ranan Hartman, Founder and CEO of Ono Academic College.

In order to live up to this aspiration, Ono offers a range of programs and scholarships, many supported by the very active organization Friends of Ono Academic College. Its ‘Students Mentor Students’ program pairs students of different abilities – and often of very different backgrounds – in which the stronger students help the weaker. ‘Seeing Far’ trains youth on the autistic spectrum for jobs in Israel’s military and civil workplaces, while ‘Kfir’ is a unique academic degree track for students with autism. Ono’s Center for Academic Accessibility is tasked with assuring that students with disabilities are not barred from obtaining academic degrees. The program for Ethiopian-Israelis provides extra tutoring and personal counseling, promotes leadership skills and encourages aspiration toward prestigious careers.

A gender-separate ultra-Orthodox track offers a support system, pre-academic preparatory programs and suitable course schedules. In the coming years, Ono plans to merge its ultra-Orthodox and secular streams – a first in Israel – on a new campus in Savyon, near Kiryat Ono, paving the path toward a more tolerant and inclusive society, equipped to meet the social challenges of the coming decades. 

Revital SteinerCredit: Ono Academic College

Ono’s teaching faculty is one of the keys to its excellence. The teaching staff, graduates of leading universities inside and outside Israel, is diverse and dynamic. The instructors are innovative scientific and social researchers with keen business and political minds, whom national student surveys have ranked as the best in Israel for six years in a row. Aiming to guide their students toward a seamless transition from college into the Israeli workforce, the curriculum they design includes not only theory, but also hands-on learning and practical application, innovative thinking and leadership skills.

 Impressive career opportunities

Both Revital Steiner and Yehonatan Shiman are very grateful for the experiences they enjoyed as students at Ono. “During my law studies at Ono, I had the opportunity to be involved in other things which helped improve my skills and further my interests,” says Steiner. “I did legal work for Lenovo Computers, and worked for Ono’s Center for Health Law, Bioethics and Health Policy under Prof. Gil Siegal, editing the Center’s journal and researching the issue of medical malpractice during pregnancy.” By the time she completed her first degree, she had published two academic papers and lectured on her research project, ‘Between Paternalism and Autonomy with an Emphasis on Inherent Irrationality.’

Dr. Dina Nir, head of Ono’s MBA Program, (left) with two of her studentsCredit: Shlomi Mizrahi, Ono Academic College

Since graduating last year, Steiner has completed a legal internship with the Elrom, Rom, Salomon & Co. law firm and is about to take her bar exam. “I’m doing the bar because I want to be licensed in Israel, but I see my future in academic law,” she says. “My goal is to be a professor of law, researching and teaching, hopefully in my favorite area – civil liability, especially in the medical and healthcare fields.” Next year, she begins an LLM at Northwestern University in Chicago. “Ono guided me and supported my application. They’re well known to leading North American universities and they helped me every step of the way.”

Yehonatan Shiman also credits Ono with his successful career. Today he is a Doctor of Law and an associate at the top Tel Aviv-based law firm Gornitzky & Co. Moreover, for the past 18 months he has lectured in tax and corporate law at his alma mater, Ono’s Faculty of Law. He was, he says, honored when Ono’s Law Faculty Dean Prof. Yuval Elbashan called to ask if he would teach at Ono.

“When I graduated, my professor suggested I go for a PhD (‘You’re not married, you have no mortgage’), and that was how I ended up at the University of Virginia Law School,” Shiman recalls with a smile. He not only received an LLM there in 2016 and a Doctor of Juridical Science degree in 2018, but Virginia also brought him together with Natasha (now Na’ama) Pereira, a descendant of Portuguese conversos, who formally converted to Judaism a year ago, and who will shortly become Mrs. Shiman.

“People think of law as an obscure set of rules, but for me it’s all about stories, and I love stories and finding out how they end,” he says. “I’ve specialized in corporate law, which resembles nothing so much as a shoot-out, involving a bunch of different people and all the tensions between them! Practicing law during the day and – for the past year and a half – teaching it at Ono in the evenings is an extraordinary opportunity.”

Whereas Shiman originally enrolled at Ono in Accounting but switched when he realized that law was his future, Steiner wanted to be a lawyer since she was a young child – “perhaps six years old,” she says. “My father discouraged me. He told me that law isn’t a profession for women. But for me, law is endlessly fascinating, both in itself and as a tool with which to impact our surroundings. I look at all that I learned at Ono, and put it together with the opportunity those years gave me to form friendships with people from very different backgrounds and faiths – friendships that I’m sure will persist through my life – and I consider myself supremely fortunate.”

“My path started at Ono,” agrees Shiman. “The College turned out to be an inspired choice for me. Ono recognized my passion and helped me take advantage of its intellectual buffet, its playground of ideas with the many possibilities that they offer.”

For more information about Ono Academic College, visit www.ono.ac.il