Winter 2001-02

University Attracts a President’s Wife


What does one do after being First Lady of the Land?
Study at the University of Haifa, of course.

Reuma Weizman, wife of Israel’s past President, Ezer Weizman, decided to continue her higher education, and enrolled this year as a first-year degree student in the University’s Interdisciplinary Studies Department.
The 76-year-old former First Lady explained that she is a graduate of the Kibbutz Teachers Seminar, but that was before the establishment of the State.  She had never been a university student, however.
Since her and her husband’s retirement last year, she continued, she had wanted to do something for herself. “And that something for me is to learn,” she said emphatically.

Asked how the former President felt about her going back to school, she replied that she had solicited his opinion.  “He said only one sentence,” she related, “and that for me was everything: ‘I’m proud of you.’”
Her presence in the hallways on the first day of classes in late October caused no unusual stir.  Indeed local reporters covering the start of the new academic year were surprised to come across her between classes.  She made it clear that she wanted to be just another one of the students.

Though she has hosted presidents and prime ministers, she had butterflies in her stomach when setting out on her first day as a student.  She did not know how she would fare when it came to such technical matters as finding one’s way around the library, photocopying articles, and so forth. 
“But there was this nice young student sitting beside me, and he said he had a little free time,” she said.  “So he accompanied me to where you take out the articles, and he helped me a lot.  I also learned some tricks.  Like you have to come with coins for the drink machines.
“All that is nice,” she continued.  “But the serious thing is to pass the exams.”
Among the courses Reuma Weizman is taking are “Jews and Poles in the New Era” and “Jewish History from the Patriarchs to the Kings.”  As she remarks, “I decided to fill in gaps in my education.”

This is not Reuma Weizman’s first connection with the University of Haifa.  As reported in Focus, several years ago in her role as the President’s wife, she lent her support to the University’s Representation in the Community program.  Aimed at adults, the program enables those who cannot commute to Haifa to prepare themselves for university-level studies in their hometown. The program, since expanded to other locations, began operating initially in the development town of Or Akiva, which abuts the Weizmans’ own town of Caesarea.


… And a Mayor, Too

If past status is no barrier to studying at the University, present standing apparently is also no obstacle.  The mayor of the small town of Nesher, located just down the mountainside from the University’s Mt. Carmel campus, also began his studies here this year.  Mayor David Amar is enrolled as a regular B.A. student.  His major is—what else?—Political Science.

The local press speculated that the 59-year-old mayor wanted to acquire an academic degree to enable him to quality and be better prepared for a possible government position or office.  The head of the opposition party in the Nesher council said the town’s grants committee would give serious consideration to any application for a scholarship that Mayor Amar would submit.


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