President’s Letter to the Technion Family

Dear members of the Technion Family,

I am writing this letter amidst an extensive visit to Jewish communities in the United States, where I have been meeting with hundreds of our supporters, as well as with Jewish and Israeli students and faculty. Due to the current situation, the events that were planned to mark the Technion’s centennial have taken on a different nature and have become a deeply moving experience. I have encountered solidarity, a deep sense of partnership, and a warm willingness to assist in any way possible. I have also met admiration for the Technion and all it represents; an institution with a glorious tradition and a clear moral compass, committed to an enlightened, inclusive, and pluralistic society, a cornerstone of the country’s security and economic prosperity, and the future of the Jewish people. The meetings with our supporters are very moving, and it is evident that the Technion is perceived in their eyes as a pillar of hope for better days ahead.

It’s hard for us to grasp this hope and trust in our daily routines, in our research labs, and in our classrooms, but as demonstrated on Sunday night, we bear significant responsibility in the form of the major success of the Israeli aerospace interception systems, many of which were developed by Technion alumni.

The days pass, seasons change, and Passover is here, and with it, spring is blooming. We’ve already finished a semester, and yet, nothing is normal. Half a year has passed since October 7, a painful six months for many among us whose lives changed forever on that day, and in the days that followed. As the holiday of freedom approaches, it is overshadowed by the six months of captivity of our loved ones -133 women and men, children and adults, Jews and Arabs, who were kidnapped by murderers and have not yet returned. We lost students and family members on the battlefield, and many others were injured; we will continue to support their families, to console, embrace, and strengthen them.

Approximately 3,500 students and academic and administrative staff from the Technion were called up for reserve duty. In anticipation of their return, we postponed the start of the academic year until mid-January, two weeks after other universities. Some are still serving, and many have been discharged and have already been called back to reserve duty in the coming months. Since the beginning of the war, the Technion has been conspicuous in its support of thousands of student reservists and in the extensive academic adjustments it has made to facilitate their integration into the academic year. With the assistance of our friends in Israel and around the world, we have been able to provide our students with a comprehensive and unprecedented package of support, including extensive financial assistance and comprehensive emotional support provided by psychologists, counselors, and social workers trained in trauma therapy. We have recruited dozens of mentors from the teaching staff, including retired staff members who have now joined the teaching effort. We have built an extensive academic support system that accompanies the student reservists and helps them bridge academic gaps. The challenges are great, but our commitment is deep, and we will continue to support and assist them and their families to the best of our ability so that no student is left behind.

As a cohesive community, we have faced immense challenges and we continue to deal with them, but now we must turn our gaze forward. The Technion has a unique responsibility, and it is incumbent upon all of us to contribute to the recovery of the State of Israel and to secure its future. The Technion is the primary source of trained high-end engineers, scientists, doctors, architects, and educators who will lead the Israeli economy forward, and we can be proud of the semester that, ended successfully last week, despite all the difficulties. The Technion is a hotbed of technological innovation in Israel. Here, ideas are born, and these must continue to flourish to assist the recovery of the Israeli economy and industry. We must fight the waves of anti-Semitism in foreign universities, support students and faculty there and strengthen collaborations with them. As importantly, we also bear a deep social responsibility – to continue to serve as an example of an inclusive, liberal, egalitarian, and tolerant society for all.

I wish you and your families a unifying and comforting Passover holiday, and to the Christian and Muslim members of our family, a meaningful spring holiday. On the eve of the Seder, we will contemplate the empty chair of Elijah the Prophet, and together as a cohesive and diverse community, we will hope for the swift release of all captives and the healing of the wounded. Our hearts will be with them and with all those who have lost and miss their dear ones.

Professor Uri Sivan