In March this year, IDC Herzliya found itself in the middle of a major, developing pandemic. Amidst great uncertainty, under the leadership of Prof. Uriel Reichman, president and founder of IDC Herzliya, we went from frontal to online teaching, taking every possible measure to maintain the safety of our students, while working for our continuing renowned academic excellence and to ensure the viability of our institution. Prof. Uriel Reichman issued a special reassuring announcement.
“I strongly believe that in every crisis there is also hidden opportunity. I have no doubt that if we are adaptable and demonstrate creativity, we will also learn and grow from the current predicament,” Prof. Reichman said. “IDC Herzliya has done everything possible to maintain the safety of our students, while continuing to prepare for continued academic excellence and ensure the viability of our institution.”
Thanks to a dedicated management, IDC Herzliya managed to find the opportunity within this crisis. IDC’s professors and lecturers adapted and demonstrated a high degree of creativity, with a smooth transition to online lectures, and seminars. A concerted effort was made by a core group of staff and students to put IDC’s courses online very quickly. Prof. Arik Shamir, dean of the Efi Arazi School of Computer Science, and a group of 150 computer science students volunteered to assist IDC’s professors and the Computer and Information Systems Department to make the transition as smoothly and as quickly as possible. Shamir and the students helped the technicians in their work and taught the teaching staff how to operate the system.
The transition to online learning launched with the Hebrew track on March 29, quickly followed by the Raphael Recanati International School (RRIS), which began straight after Pesach.
At the RRIS, communication with students and parents immediately became more frequent. Some students needed to quarantine in the dormitories and this needed to be managed, while IDC reassured anxious parents around the globe.
RRIS counselors and staff made themselves even more available than usual for support. During this period it was my pleasure to be in personal contact with hundreds of our students and their parents who were stranded outside of Israel, together with our international students who remained in Israel.
The RRIS Campus Life Department set up Zoom sessions to connect with international students and share stories of life in lockdown, and students joined in from around the world, including from the United States, Spain, Russia, Sudan, Kazakhstan, Zambia and Taiwan.
The RRIS continued its planned B.A. and M.A. Information Sessions for prospective students interested in enrolling for the 2020-2021 academic year, moving those sessions online, showing an impressive surge in attendance and registration.
As well as holding online lectures for current students, which were successfully conducted via Zoom and were recorded for students to view afterwards, various IDC facilities quickly began operating online. Various student-led initiatives were launched, one being the “Door to Dor” (“generation” in Hebrew) project, initiated by IDC students Ben Segal and Lior Avisar from the Baruch Ivcher School of Psychology, together with fellow student Maya Klien from the Harry Radzyner Law School, who worked with Taglit-Birthright Israel. The project successfully connected volunteers with elderly people and others confined to their homes around Israel.
The volunteers delivered groceries, medicines and postal packages to the doors of those who requested assistance, and in many cases remained in touch with them and returned, often more than once, to check on their welfare. The project brought the volunteers closer to their communities while making life easier for people unable to go out during the coronavirus crisis. Around 6,500 people signed up to the project as volunteers, including many IDC students.
During this time, we published this first digital edition of the Herzliyan Magazine which sets out to chart life during the coronavirus period and how IDC Herzliya did not miss a beat in dynamically handling the situation. Please click and make sure to press on all of the links which will lead you to fascinating talks, lectures and experiences not to be missed.
We hope that in years to come, the younger generation will be able to reflect back, and see for themselves history in the making at IDC Herzliya.
Jonathan Davis is the Head of the Raphael Recanati International School & Vice President for External Relations