Druze Studies The University has opened a new study cluster, Druze Studies, the first program of its kind offered in Israel and perhaps anywhere in the world, according to Dr. Kais Firro, a Druze scholar in the Middle East History Department who heads the cluster. Some 60 students, half of them Druze elected to take the cluster, which includes an introduction to the history of the Druzes in the Middle East and various aspects of their life and culture, especially in Israel. The innovative study cluster is offered in the General Studies Department.

The Continuing Education department of the Faculty of Education also offered a first-time course relating to the Druzes, Leadership and Educational Initiatives in the Druze Community. The purpose of the two-year course is to prepare a group that will assist in bringing a positive educational message to this community as well as to assist in the personal development of leaders.

Musical Notes Dr. Oded Zahavi, who heads the music cluster in the General Studies Department, won the Golden Quill award of the Israeli Society of Musicians and Composers for his “Concerto for Viola and Orchestra.” Veteran Israeli composer Joseph Tal presented him the award at a ceremony in Jerusalem. That was in October. In November, two of his compositions had their world premier, one in Tel Aviv and the second the next day in Jerusalem. Both pieces had been commissioned by the respective orchestras that played them. In January, Zahavi became the first Israeli composer to have an orchestral work played in an Arab country, his “Elmaleh” being performed in Aqaba, Jordan, by the Kirov Opera House orchestra.

Letter from Russia Teachers appreciate appreciation. Dr. Judith Kais, who heads the Faculty of Education’s Continuing Education unit, received especial satisfaction from a letter of appreciation she received earlier this year. The unit not only provides in-service courses for the nation’s teachers but also prepares textbooks on various subjects. The letter-writer expressed her thanks to Kais and to Dr. Paul Enoch for Look and Listen, a textbook for learning Hebrew. The letter came from Briansk, Russia, and was penned entirely in Hebrew. She was so happy to be studying Hebrew, the writer said, that she decided to send Kais and her co-author a New Year’s greeting in the form of a poem, all in Hebrew. The nearly three-page verse composition used words and expressions from the textbook. “Thank you so much for the studies/Be well, to 120,” the writer concluded her note of gratitude, in poetic form, in Hebrew. Kais, who has never met the student, is greatly appreciative.

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