Autumn 2003


Honorary Doctorate Conferred on (l.-r.)
Moshe Idel, Itzhak Zamir, Endel Tulving , and Eliezer Rafaeli

The Israeli recipients of the University’s Doctor of Philosophy Honoris Causa degree all had a first about them.  But that the renowned psychologist Endel Tulving of Canada was rated 36 was nothing at all to be ashamed of; the opposite, in fact.

The honorary degree conferment ceremony this year took place as part of the opening

 ceremony of the University’s 31st annual board of governors meeting on May 25.

        Tulving was rated 36th in a list of the one hundred—99 actually—most eminent psychologists of the 20th century.  Considered perhaps the world’s leading memory specialist—which allows him, after all, to share “a first” with the Israeli honorees—Tulving spent his career at the University of Toronto after emigrating from his native Estonia . Presently he occupies the Tannenbaum Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience at the well-known Rotman Research Institute of Baycrest Center, Toronto . The University of Haifa cited him for “his profound and wide-ranging scientific contribution to the advancement of psychological science, … and his insightful theoretical and experimental research into human memory….”

One of the world’s foremost experts in kabbalah, Prof. Moshe Idel is the first graduate of the University of Haifa to have won the Israel Prize.  Idel, who holds an endowed chair in Jewish Thought at the Hebrew University , noted that he had started his academic studies in the very building where the ceremony was being held, then quipped, “I hope this high degree doesn’t leave me on a pedestal.”  He received recognition for “his in-depth and wide-ranging scholarly contribution to the study of kabbalah in particular, and to the advancement of Jewish Studies in general….”

        Retired Justice of the Israeli Supreme Court Itzhak Zamir was the first Dean of the University’s Law Faculty, which he helped establish. He thanked the University for the opportunity it gave him to help establish the Faculty, which he reminded the audience, “is celebrating its bar-mitzvah, has an innovative curriculum, and was engaged in research, especially in areas neglected by other universities.”  Prior to his appointment to the High Bench, Zamir had served as Attorney-General of Israel .  He is Israel ’s leading expert in the field of administrative/public law.  His citation acknowledged “his special contribution to Israeli administrative law and imparting to it a firm basis; … his determined and courageous activity to establish the rule of law; and … his contribution to shaping legal education….”

        Eliezer Rafaeli was the first president of the University of Haifa .   He now holds a degree from the institution of which he is Life Chancellor.  Or as he put it, “Dreams do come true—the dream to build a university that is unique…Now my dream honors me.”  Rafaeli, who had held Labor Movement and Histadruth posts in Israel and the United States, was among those who in the early 1960s established the University Institute of Haifa, which became the University a decade later.  The University formally paid tribute to “his contribution to the establishment of the University of Haifa and to its development; …[and to] his commitment to societal and national goals in serving as director-general and as president of the University and in the framework of his activity in public service in Israel and abroad.”

        Tulving reminded the audience that it has never happened that one country with a democratic government has made war with another.  “Why do so few people know this,” he asked.  “Why are children not taught this?”

        The psychologist’s advice: “Go and tell this fact to others.  Find two others and commission them to tell two people each.”  And so on.  “Make sure,” he said in parting, “your children know this before they learn to read and write.”


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