On its way from Los Angeles to New York, on its third stop, to be exact, I had the chance to attend the One Day University in Palo Alto, California. It was billed as “All the best of college ---and no homework! Since I had not been to a university for some time, this sounded very interesting and so, combined with the possibility of finding out “Who Are You, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi?” I decided to attend. Living in Palo Alto temporarily, it was not difficult to find my way to the Taube Koret Campus, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto, CA 94303 for two presentations the evening of Tuesday, January 29, 2013. (As a part of a seven city tour of the U.S., Tel Aviv University’s “One Day University” comes to Chicago/NYC on Feb. 4/Feb. 7. For more information, visit onedayu.org. )
Entering the all-purpose room that was set up for the lectures, people were mingling and enthusiastically conversing on many topics. Before the two presentations by Tel Aviv University professors, there was a video demonstrating the virtues of the university and touting its achievements and contributions to the world, a convincing argument making contributions to the university.
Dr. Yechiel Elkabetz spoke about stem cell research in his talk entitled, “Why is Stem Cell Research Taking So Long to Change Everything? “ His talk began with the nature of embryonic stem cells, what is generally known about how they behave and his groundbreaking research that studies human embryonic stem cells at the very moment they begin to differentiate and turn into nerve cells — an exciting scientific first.
Recruited by distinguished institutions around the world, Dr. Elkabetz chose to establish his state-of-the-art Laboratory for Pluripotent and Neural Stem Cell Biology at Tel Aviv University, his triple alma mater. While doing post-doctoral work at New York's Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research, he realized he "wanted to do more than watch what happens inside an individual cell. I wanted to zoom out to the big picture and examine the process by which cells become the type of cells they are. This was quite technical but the slides were great. Many audience members questioned him after the talk.
I was intrigued by the fresh and new to me perspective from the point of view of Egypt’s vulnerable neighbor presented byDr. Mira Tzoref offered her presentation, “Who Are You, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi?”, I listened, transfixed. This was an explanation that was very different from anything I hear on the radio or on TV. She spoke about the fact that Morse was virtually unknown abroad before winning Egypt's presidency in June 2012, Time magazine just named Dr. Mohamed Morsi the most important politician in the Middle East. She offered insights about the Muslim Brotherhood as well.
Dr. Mira Tzoref is a research fellow at TAU's Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, Dr. Tzoreff specializes in the socio-cultural history of modern Egypt, politics (especially the religion-state relationship), women and gender relations in Muslim and Arab societies, and youth in the Middle East. A frequent speaker in the region, her research has been featured in numerous books and journals, including The Decline of the West, the Rise of Islam? Studies on Civilizational Discourse (2010). Her upcoming book, Youth in the Middle East — A Rebellious or a Conservative Generation? is currently being edited for publication. Dr. Tzoreff holds a B.A., M.A. cum laude, and Ph.D. from Tel Aviv University.
The presentations continue: Los Angeles, CA — January 27, 2013,Las Vegas, NV — January 28, 2013,Palo Alto, CA — January 29, 2013,North Miami Beach, FL — January 30, 2013, Coral Gables, FL — January 31, 2013, Chicago, IL — February 4, 2013 and New York, NY — February 7, 2013.
For more information on Tel Aviv University, go to:www.aftau.org
Photos: Courtesy of One Day University and B. Keer