Rothberg International School

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The Rothberg International School (Hebrew:ע"ש רוטברג  בית הספר לתלמידים מחוץ לארץ, Beit ha-Sefer le-Talmidim mi-Chutz la-Aretz al shem Rothberg; abbreviated RIS), is a school for international students at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. It offers programs for undergraduate students, graduate students, summer courses, researchers and new immigrants. The school is housed in the Boyar Building on the university’s Mt. Scopus campus. It hosts approximately 2,500 students from 90 countries on an annual basis.


The Rothberg International School (Boyar Building)

The Rothberg International School began at the initiative of Samuel Rothberg, an influential American businessman and Zionist who was heavily involved in the development of The Hebrew University. It started in 1955 with twenty-one students from the United States. [1]

The program continued during the 1960s and expanded to include summer courses and an intensive summer Hebrew language program. The Preparatory Program for New Immigrants (Mechina le-Olim) was established in 1965. The events of the Six Day War in June 1967 led to an increase in the number of overseas students at the Hebrew University, particularly from American students who wanted a study abroad experience.[2] Several international programs at the university such as the One Year Program, the Preparatory Year Program, the Hebrew Ulpan (language course) and Summer Courses were consolidated into the School for Overseas Students in 1971.[3] The school became the first academic unit to relocate from its Givat Ram campus to the Mount Scopus campus.

In 1981, the school was renamed The Rothberg School for Overseas Students

Academic programs[edit]

The Rothberg International School has undergraduate, graduate, non-degree and short-term programs, in addition to the Mechina (Preparatory) program.

Undergraduate Studies[edit]

The school offers a Division of Undergraduate Studies for those pursuing a bachelor’s degree outside Israel. There are also programs in Dance, Art and Design, Arabic, Music, and internships in Technology and Innovation. There is also a program developed with Harvard University.

Graduate Studies[edit]

The Division of Graduate Studies currently offers five graduate degree options in Jewish Studies, The Bible and the Ancient Near East, Israel Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, Non-Profit Management and Leadership. Graduate students may join a non-degree program and choose from any of the courses offered in the graduate division.

Mechina (Preparatory Program)[edit]

The Preparatory (Mechina) Program is for students from overseas not yet able to enroll in an undergraduate degree program in Israel. Mechina students are either in the process of becoming Israeli citizens or have recently immigrated to Israel. It is the largest academic preparatory program in Israel.

Historically, the student body of the Mechina program has reflected the immigration trends in Israel. When Operation Moses (1984) and Operation Solomon (1991) brought Ethiopian Jewish immigrants to Israel, the Mechina had an increase in Ethiopian students. In 1991, with the 1990s post-Soviet aliyah, four times the number of students from the Former Soviet Union enrolled than the previous year.[4]

List of Provosts & Vice-Provosts[edit]


Name Start End
Prof. Yehoshua Arieli 1971 1973
Prof. Hillel Matthew Daleski 1973 1976
Prof. Mordechai Abir 1976 1979
Prof. Zev Klein 1979 1982
Prof. Haim Beinart (interim) 1982 1983
Prof. Zev Klein 1983 1985
Prof. Amnon Shiloah 1985 1989
Prof. Immanuel Etkes 1989 1993
Prof. Michel Abitbol 1993 1999
Prof. Menahem Milson 1999 2002
Prof. Steven Kaplan 2002 2004
Prof. Jaime Kapitulnik 2004 2007
Prof. Yonata Levy 2007 2010
Prof. Mimi Ajzenstadt 2010 2015
Prof. Malka Rappaport Hovav 2015 2017
Prof. Noam Shoval 2017


Name Start End
Dr. Avraham Avi-hai 1971 1973 Mr. Israel Ro’i 1973 2001
Ms. Liba Maimon 2001 2002
Mr. Shimon Lipsky 2002 2014
Dr. Jonathan Kaplan 2014 2019
Ms. Yafit Sherer 2019

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ Avi-Hai, Avraham (July 11, 2007). "Appreciation: Remembering Sam Rothberg". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved June 30, 2021.
  2. ^ "900 Americans to Study at Hebrew U. – Largest U.S. Student Contingent Overseas". JTA. July 31, 1968. Retrieved June 30, 2021.
  3. ^ "School for Overseas Students Bulletin '73-'74". The Hebrew University of Jerusalem: 33. 1973.
  4. ^ "The Russians Are Coming". Focus: Newsletter of the Rothberg School for Overseas Students. Spring 1991.

External links[edit]