The announcement this week that publisher Mortimer Zuckerman is launching a $100 million program to promote scientific collaboration between the U.S. and Israel is welcome news on several levels.
Most basically, The Zuckerman STEM Leadership Program will advance scientific research by providing scholarships and educational programs to foster cooperation between top American and Israeli minds. It will welcome graduate students and post-doctoral researchers from America to work together with the finest researchers at Hebrew University, the Technion, Tel Aviv University and the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel.
Zuckerman, publisher of The Daily News and other media companies, is a former chairman of the Conference of Presidents of major American Jewish Organizations with a long history of support for Jewish and medical and scientific organizations.
The added benefit of the new program, scheduled to begin in the fall, is its engagement of emerging Jewish leaders in their scientific fields in the U.S. and Israel at a time of concern about a drifting apart of the two societies. Polls show that significant numbers of young American Jews feel less identified with the Jewish state than their parents and grandparents. So programs that foster cooperation and deeper understanding are praiseworthy.
That’s why we look forward to the opening next year of the joint Cornell-Technion University campus on Roosevelt Island, which will focus on applied sciences and engineering. And we were encouraged to see that the once highly touted Israel-Diaspora Initiative, first introduced two years ago as a major effort by the government of Israel and the Jewish Agency to develop Jewish identity around the world, appears to be back in business. Created to partner with diaspora donors, the project was bogged down by bureaucratic woes in Israel, causing several major funders to pull out. Amy Holtz of Philadelphia, president of Jerusalem U, an educational program for diaspora Jews, was named CEO this week and hopes to mend fences. We wish her luck, and applaud these and other efforts to engage and inspire the next generation of Jews here, in Israel and around the world, through their hearts, souls and brains.