From medicine to high-tech: How the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s unique partnership with Israel Defense Forces is bettering the world


Since the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks against Israel, the students and faculty at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have been focused on their continued mission of making the world a better place.

Yishai Fraenkel, vice president and director general of the university says the campus communities of the 100-year-old institution are experiencing a range of psychological and emotional challenges. There are those who have lost friends or family members or have suffered physical injury themselves. Still, they strive for a sense of normalcy.

“We are not stopping. We are not halting or looking for excuses,” says Fraenkel. “Hebrew University is one of the most important civilian institutions in Israel, and we want to continue offering a world class education and world class research.”

While their academic offerings cover a broad spectrum of disciplines from social sciences to medicine, the university’s partnership with the Israeli military has resulted in multiple programs that have been advancing research and development on a global scale for decades.

“We have three major programs done in collaboration with the Israeli military: Havatzalot, Tzameret and Talpiot,” explains Fraenkel. “These military programs are very important because this is an army to protect democracy, which is very precious.”

Havatzalot: Training future military intelligence leaders

More than a decade ago, the Military Intelligence Division established a program to recruit members of the Israel Defense Forces with the potential to excel as officers in the field of intelligence. The program has been at Hebrew University of Jerusalem since 2019.

“Havatzalot is a three-year program that allows young students who are also cadets to complete a double-major bachelor’s degree with a combination of Middle-Eastern  studies and one other science like mathematics, computer science, economics and sometimes philosophy,” says Fraenkel. “They finish their training, and they serve basically as the backbone of Israeli intelligence.”

Troops who join the program graduate with the rank of lieutenant and then join the Military Intelligence Unit for at least six years.

Tzameret: Elite military medicine that save lives

Serving as a military doctor is not for the faint of heart, and admission to the Tzameret program is highly competitive. Candidates for the program must meet rigorous cognitive ability and physical fitness requirements. While participating in the program, students are allowed to defer their military service and later give five years as military doctors in the IDF.

One of the main objectives of the program is to increase the number of career military physicians. The more highly trained doctors in the field, the better for anyone in need of critical care. The program is in its tenth year. As of the 2023-2024 academic year, the total number of new military physicians in training, including those that have already finished training, exceeds 850.

Like many of their other programs, Tzameret has a global reach. Up to 20 students in their sixth year of study are selected to participate in a one-month exchange program with other military-oriented medical programs around the world.

Talpiot: Cultivating the next generation of leaders in defense and technology

When you think of Talpiot, think of it as training people who develop technologies like the Iron Dome. The Talpiot program is likely the most prestigious academic and military program in Israel, selecting exceptionally talented individuals from across Israel for training in science, technology and leadership.

“Talpiot takes those extremely bright scientific minds, those who excel in mathematics and physics so they can apply their talents to the development of military technology,” says Fraenkel. “Many graduates of this program go on to have a successful military career and later make their way into civilian life as successful entrepreneurs. They’re idea generators.”

Though these three programs might be the most well-known, you’ll also find programs like the Institute for Research in Military Medicine where research and development in the areas of post-traumatic stress disorder, combat casualty trauma and forensic medicine (or identifying victims) takes place.  Additionally, the six-year-old Bina Elite Dentistry Track allows student-soldiers to maintain rigorous combat training standards. The Bina cadets serve as critical dental officers as needed.

Solidarity across an ocean

These programs, Hebrew University and the wider community are receiving critical support through the We Are One campaign, a special initiative organized by American Friends of Hebrew University along with the international chapters of the organization.

“First and foremost, the We Are One campaign shows the solidarity of people throughout the world,” says Fraenkel. “Secondly, given these hardships as a university, the campaign makes it possible for us to continue our mission. We’re not just pursuing life, but the fullness of its potential.”

Resources from the initiative support a wide range of immediate community needs from mental health services and legal assistance to hosting displaced individuals and funding unique scholarships for reservists called to duty. The initiative is also looking at rebuilding the future with programs promoting mental health, a shared society between Arabs and Jews and even agricultural innovation.

Show your solidarity with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem by giving to the We Are One campaign. Learn more or donate at

— Hailey Childers for American Friends of Hebrew University

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