In the spirit of “love your neighbor as yourself,” Bar-Ilan University promotes social involvement and volunteering. The university supports many social projects and encourages faculty members and students to participate in community outreach and to play an influential role in bettering Israeli society.
Chief among Bar-Ilan’s social projects are its clinics, which offer the public free professional assistance and treatment at a nominal cost. The clinics operate within the Department of Psychology, the Continuing Education Unit at the Weisfeld School of Social Work, the Faculty of Law and the Department of Optometry.
The Psychology Clinic provides psychological therapies based on accepted therapeutic approaches. The clinic regularly treats individuals, couples and families who face various mental health challenges. Department staff members also work off campus, in cooperation with the Israeli Ministry of Defense, assisting former IDF veterans who suffer from head trauma at the Rehabilitation Center for Veterans after Traumatic Brain-Injury (TBI) in Jaffa.
Four therapeutic clinics operate within the Continuing Education Unit at the Weisfeld School of Social Work. They include:
- The Sex Therapy Clinic, which assists men, women and couples in dealing with sexual difficulties so that they may realize their sexual potential at their particular stage of life.
- The Sex Therapy Clinic for People with Special Needs, which assists men, women and couples with special needs with their relationships and sexuality, in order to help them to realize their sexual potential and improve their quality of life.
- The Couples and Family Therapy Clinic, which specializes in treating couples and families experiencing difficulties and crises in marriage, parenting and parent-child relationships.
- The Play Therapy Clinic, which employs play therapy techniques with children aged 2-10 to diagnose and treat various emotional and behavioral difficulties.
Treatment at these clinics are provided by graduate students under the guidance of the program’s senior staff. With their affordable treatment costs, the clinics are accessible to every patient. The Weisfeld School of Social Work cooperates with the Israeli Ministry of Defense, providing academic guidance to nine rehabilitation-occupational clubs for IDF disabled veterans nationwide.
The Faculty of Law operates eight clinics, in which third-year students, along with professional lawyers, offer free legal assistance and representation to people in financial need, in areas such as disability rights, women’s rights in family matters, environmental policy, civil law, mediation and dispute resolution, promoting equality of minority populations, and Jewish law. Along with their work in the community, students undertake to promote legislative proposals for disadvantaged populations.
The School of Optometry and Vision Science offers vision tests to the general public, free of charge, and special tests for people with poor eyesight and vision problems. The tests are administered by fourth-year optometry students, under close supervision of the senior optometrists on staff. The school runs a contact lens clinic and other specialized clinics. Glasses, contact lenses and special accessories may be purchased at the clinic store at discounted prices.
The School of Education runs the Otzmot “Empowerment” Program that integrates students with intellectual disabilities into three levels of academic studies. The projects give students with ID the opportunity to study in a university environment and to acquire theoretical knowledge on academic subjects that are relevant to them. Participants acquire strategies for learning and analyzing texts as well as receive considerable support from lecturers and their fellow university students. The project’s shared learning experience and unmediated encounter with other students on campus empower and help improve the self-confidence and quality of life of the participants in this project.
The Baker Center, founded by the late Prof. Pnina Klein, winner of the Israel Prize for Educational Research, operates within the School of Education, with the aim of improving the quality of care and education given to infants, toddlers and young children. Research carried out at the center in these areas serves as a basis for the counseling and guidance services provided on the premises. The training is focused on preventing developmental difficulties and advancing children with developmental delays, promoting gifted children, and improving quality of care and education provided to infants and toddlers in out-of-home educational settings.
The Hadad Center, which also operates within the School of Education, provides didactic and psychodidactic diagnosis in English and mathematics for school-aged and university students with learning disabilities. The center also offers remedial instruction in Hebrew and English, courses in learning strategies in Hebrew and English, and a language program for pupils with dyslexia.
The Azrieli Faculty of Medicine in the Galilee holds an annual “Teddy Bear Hospital” which invites young children and their parents to a friendly introductory encounter with medical services provided at the hospital and at medical clinics, in order to reduce fear of medical treatment. Medical students demonstrate on bears and dolls, what happens in the hospital wards and how various tests are conducted. In addition, the faculty initiates concerts for the general public.
Bar-Ian’s “Translation in the Community” course helps new immigrants, foreigner workers, tourists and members of minorities in sensitive situations, where a lack of proper communication might even be a matter of life or death.
The university runs a special dialogue program, organized by the Dean of Students, which deals with burning conflicts in Israeli society in order to bridge rifts between diverse sectors of society and to foster involvement, responsibility and social leadership among students.
The Division for Youth Activity at Bar-Ilan University cultivates and encourages interest in the sciences among highly motivated pupils. The division’s activity introduces participants to scientific frontiers and provides youth with mind-broadening enrichment, exposing them to research scientists in a university setting. During summer vacation and the school year, the division holds science classes for youth and scientific summer camps for pupils in grades 4-12 on the Bar-Ilan campus.