Friday, June 02, 2023

From charedim to Ethiopians to everyone in between, JCT has proven since 1969 that Israel can be the land of opportunity for students from any background.

(Courtesy of JCT) The Jerusalem College of Technology (JCT), a leader in providing high-level science and technology education to religious students in Israel and beyond, celebrated its 50th anniversary at a festive ceremony last night.

The event, which took place at the college’s Schloss Plaza in Jerusalem, featured remarks from Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion and Prof. Yaffa Zilbershats, chair of the planning and budgeting committee of the Israeli Council of Higher Education. The two leaders extolled JCT’s parallel legacies of inclusion and academic excellence, in which the institution has empowered its students to obtain a high-quality education and subsequently employment in their fields of choice regardless of their gender, ethnicity or level of religious observance.

“In two weeks, we will mark 15 years since the passing of Israel Prize winner Prof. Ze’ev Lev, who established the Jerusalem College of Technology. Part of a long scion of rabbis, a Yeshiva student and a scientist, Prof. Lev decided to build his life upon two solid foundations—Torah and science,” Mayor Lion said. “By combining these two principles, he saw an exponential strength and established here JCT, whose 50th anniversary we are celebrating today. Prof. Lev was a man of actions and vision, but I doubt that even he would he have [seen] coming the rapid development and influence of this powerful institution and its impact on the integration of charedim into Israeli society.”

“JCT’s focus on the hi-tech professions is very much in line with our policy to train high-quality personnel for the hi-tech industry,” said Prof. Zilbershats. “The (college) has also developed the bio and health professions, bioinformatics and nursing, and I am sure this will continue to develop at JCT in the coming years...If you want to realize the idea of combining Torah and Science studies, (JCT) enables you to do it with a strong commitment to both Torah and science.”

Attendees listened to singer Aaron Razel perform while standing adjacent to where the school’s new Tal Campus for Women will be built. The 30,000-square-foot Tal building will become the permanent home to JCT’s enriching programs for women, which include nursing, computer science, electro-optics, industrial engineering, accounting and management, and a pre-academic mechina (preparatory) program for charedi and Ethiopian students.

“Our founder Prof. Lev would be proud of what we’ve accomplished over the past half century, which squarely aligns with his original founding vision for the college,” said Stuart Hershkowitz, vice president of JCT. “Sadly, many demographic sectors in Israel are pushed to the margins of society and lag behind in the workforce. At JCT, we provide these underserved communities with the tools they need to ensure they will have a seat at the table, not only for themselves, but for generations to come.”

JCT’s empowerment of underserved Israeli populations includes the following accomplishments:

The college’s charedi graduates attain an 89% employment rate, far exceeding the roughly 50% employment rate for charedi men in Israel as a whole.

53% of JCT’s computer science students are women, who account for 20% of female computer science students in all of Israel, bucking the stereotype about women’s relative lack of interest in science and technology careers; these 2,000 female students enjoy a 90% employment rate upon graduation.

Over 180 Ethiopian students have graduated from the Reuven Surkis Program for Students from the Ethiopian Community; 97% of these Ethiopian students have gained employment and more than 50% have gone on to pursue graduate studies.

Further, JCT has passionately followed Prof. Lev’s vision of addressing acute needs in the Israeli workforce. From JCT’s electro-optics engineering department, which is integral to the country’s defense sector and start-up scene, to its nursing program, the institution fills voids across various sectors in Israel’s economy that have well-documented needs for additional talent.

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