Each week Jspace brings you an in-depth look at a Jewish organization from around the world.

Tel Aviv University is not only a top world ranking university in research studies, but the school is an integral part of the city of Tel Aviv’s culture and development. The university is home to 30,000 students studying in 125 schools and departments and has more than 1,200 international students studying in its international school. With more than 2 million people served in TAU’s 17 affiliated hospitals it is safe to say the TAU impact is felt by many Israelis.

Jspace recently spoke with  Barbara Schreibman, vice president of marketing and communications at American Friends of Tel Aviv University, to find out how the American Friends of Tel Aviv University works to strengthen the school.

Why and how was your organization founded?

Unusually, we came first.  Our American Friends of Tel Aviv University organization was founded in 1955, predating the official founding of the university by five years.  At our inception, supporters were dedicated to ensuring that the modern city of Tel Aviv would have a high-qulity institution of higher learning to nurture Israel’s greatest natural resource — her brainpower.

How has it evolved over time?

As the university has grown in depth, stature, and influence — TAU is now the largest and most sought-after university in Israel — our donors’ aspirations for it have grown as well.  Throughout our history, they’ve consistently been Jewish and committed to strengthening the State of Israel, and over time, that passion has broadened to include fostering pioneering scholarship and breakthrough research.

What is the main focus today?

American Friends are dedicated to continuing the very positive trajectory of growth and distinction TAU has enjoyed.  Currently ranked with the top 100 universities in the world by most measures, they are determined to see TAU among the top 50, achieving an ever more meaningful presence on the world stage.  They often work with the university to develop highly personal, custom-tailored projects that align with their interests, achieve measurable effects, and expand human knowledge.  They want their support to be meaningful — to matter — and it does.

How does this work line up with Jewish values?

Tel Aviv University’s mission rests on three legs — education, research, and community-building.  In addition to advancing knowledge, a core Jewish value, TAU helps benefit Israel’s social future, too, opening the doors of educational opportunity to all.  And TAU faculty and students are part of the fabric of daily life in Tel Aviv, reaching into the community through innumerable avenues of service — from social welfare programs to legal clinics, from dental care to community theater, and from adult education to urban renewal.  With each encounter, the underlying goal is to improve, enrich, and “mend the world” — and what’s more Jewish than that?

.ORG Connection: Tel Aviv University has had two Oscar-nominated films and is number one in research output among Israeli universities.