Tel Aviv University says 1 in 3 student reservists are women

Gavriel Fiske is a reporter at The Times of Israel

Carmel Cohen, 26, a third-year theater arts student at Tel Aviv University, in an undated photo. (courtesy TAU)
Carmel Cohen, 26, a third-year theater arts student at Tel Aviv University, in an undated photo. (courtesy TAU)

A full 34 percent of Tel Aviv University students who were called up for IDF reserve duty after October 7 are women, “a major change in women’s contribution to the war effort compared to the past,” the university says in a press release.

TAU, with nearly 30,000 students, is the largest university in the country. Of the 6,657 students called up for reserve duty, 2,228 were women, the university says. Like the other major universities, the majority of TAU’s mobilized reservists were discharged in late January to return to their studies. Of the more than 2,500 students who were not released, around 29% are women.

“The moment I was called up I didn’t think twice. I reported to the Home Front Command and served for about three months,” third-year theater arts student Carmel Cohen says.

“Every day we helped civilians impacted by the war, and it felt great, everyone doing all they could for the army and the country. These are hard times for us, and we try to help as much as we can. I recently returned to TAU, and I want to realize my dream and become an actress who makes people smile. Of course, whenever I’m called up again, I will go.”

Most of the women reserve soldiers study in the departments of medicine, engineering and life sciences, according to data provided by the university.

Like all the universities, TAU has organized a series of scholarships and benefits for returning students, including grants of up to NIS 9,000 ($2,500).

The academic year for Israel’s universities was scheduled to begin on October 15, but after the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war was delayed until December 31. Some 360,000 reservists were called up after October 7, out of whom around 100,000 were enrolled university students.

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