Participants of the Israel Alumni Beth Midrash: Meron HaCohen (Class 10), Tsvia Efrati (Class 2), Shmuel and Hagit Porat (Class 10), Yaron Charka (spouse Class 22), Kobi Goldberg (Class 23), Yitzhak Avigad (Class 6) and (not pictured) Deb Housen-Couriel (Class 12)

Alumni of the Wexner Israel Fellowship launched a Beit Midrash. We gathered at the Foundation’s office in Jerusalem and even a non-objective observer could note two signs of how successful it was. First, the learning was scheduled for an hour and a half. Though we started fifteen minutes late, in good Israeli fashion, we had to force ourselves to stop after two hours. Second: true to Wexner form, there was a wonderful spread waiting for us. Although, we were so engrossed, that by the end of the evening, it was barely touched!

Meron HaCohen (Class 10) and Deb Housen-Couriel (Class 12, and the Director of the Israel Fellowship Program) provided the push for the Beit Midrash, and Meron led the learning at our initial meeting. Our first study session related to the weekly portion and dealt with Jacob’s and Joseph’s dreams and how they reflect the personal development of the dreamers, their personal aspirations and individual circumstances. Alumni from the earliest and most recent classes attended, both secular and dati (religious).  We all benefited and enjoyed the different perspectives.

Though details are still being worked out, our Alumni Beit Midrash will meet once a month and will be self-sustaining; participants will be responsible for leading the study, with occasional guest teachers. We also discussed learning together with alumni of the Wexner Heritage Program and the Wexner Graduate Fellowship who living in Israel, including the Heritage group's already up-and-running Beit Midrash. 

Yitzhak Avigad, WIFA (Class 6), currently lives in Jerusalem and works at Cisco as a product manager. At the time of his fellowship Yitzhak was working at the Israel Foreign Ministry, having already served in Malawi and Mexico, and specializing in foreign aid to the Third World. He left foreign service in 1997 but continued to be a lay leader even as he joined the private sector. He currently mentors an Ethiopian and an Arab engineer in their professional careers and has been in charge of the children’s educational activities in his synagogue in Jerusalem for the past ten years. He has also taught astronomy, which is another passion of his). Yitzhak be reached at