Shalem College
November 1, 2017

Shalem Announces $16 Million Challenge Grant from the Tikvah Fund

Shalem Announces $16 Million Challenge Grant from the Tikvah Fund
Mrs. Polina Liberman, member of the International Board of Governors, Mr. Roger Hertog, chair of the Tikvah Fund and president of the Hertog Foundation, Mr. David Messer, chair of the International Board of Governors, and Dr. Daniel Polisar, executive vice president of Shalem College at the Shalem College Inaugural Commencement on June 25, 2017.

As reported in today’s Times of Israel, Shalem College in Jerusalem has just received a five-year, $16 million challenge grant from the Tikvah Fund, the foundation established by businessman and philanthropist Zalman C. Bernstein and Shalem’s longstanding and most significant investor. The gift surpasses Tikvah’s previous grant of $12.5 million, designated for the college’s first four years, and makes for a combined total of $28.5 million—one of the largest sums ever granted to support the launch and ongoing operations of an Israeli institution of higher education.

“Shalem College aspires to become something unique in Israel: a true model of Jewish, Zionist, and Western learning, with the clear mission of educating leaders for the Jewish state,” said Tikvah chairman Roger Hertog. “We hope our matching gift will help attract and inspire an expanded donor base, as well as give Shalem the resources it needs to recruit top faculty in the key intellectual areas of the college.”

Since 2013, Shalem College has admitted fifty, carefully selected students each year for a four-year Bachelor of Arts program that combines an innovative core curriculum in the humanities and social sciences with a focused major in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies or in Philosophy and Jewish Thought. Inspired by the classical ideals of liberal education, and in the belief that a deep familiarity with the richness of Jewish civilization and Zionist thought should be at the center of learning at an Israeli college, Shalem was established to cultivate those characteristics required of leading citizens in a modern Jewish state.

Shalem has already made great strides toward the achievement of this goal—including the recruitment of five cohorts of exceptionally talented, service-minded students; the creation of a prestigious faculty of thinkers, scholars, and practitioners; the entrance of the first cohort of graduates into significant positions at leading governmental, research, educational, and cultural institutions; and its number-one ranking, for the second year in a row, in the National Union of Israeli Students’ Annual Student Satisfaction Survey. “These and many other accomplishments since the college’s founding,” Hertog stated, “encouraged our belief that the college is poised to play a pivotal role in Israel’s future, and that now is the moment to put the full force of our support behind it.”

Shalem Executive Vice President Daniel Polisar explained that the matching grant is intended to “take Shalem to the next level, by strengthening our core educational activities and inspiring new and existing donors to make significant investments in Shalem College.”

“This gift conveys Tikvah’s dedication to excellence, its commitment to the transmission of the best of the Jewish and Western traditions, and its extraordinary support for Shalem’s audacious vision of an elite college whose graduates will go on to help chart Israel’s future course,” said Polisar. Adding that the grant builds on the successful completion of Tikvah’s previous matching gift, Polisar concluded that “Tikvah now seeks to raise our sights, and we are proud and determined to meet the challenge.”

David Messer, Chairman of the International Board of Governors of Shalem College, expressed his hope that Tikvah’s gift would inspire existing partners to double down on their support, and new donors to join Shalem’s circle of donors at a significant level. “Israel needs a new generation of leaders who will bring to its existential challenges the kind of big-picture, ideas-driven, and historically nuanced thinking that is gained in large part through the study of the classics of the Jewish and Western traditions. That is why a college like Shalem is so essential for Israel and the Jewish people.”

“This extraordinary gift from Tikvah,” concluded Messer, “is therefore a challenge to all those who are passionate about the future of Israel. We hope they will take it up, and seize this unique opportunity to help make history.”