Bar-Ilan in Yom Kippur War, 1973


During this horrific time, we reflect on the Yom Kippur War and the impact it had at Bar-Ilan.

When war broke out in October 1973, 30 Bar-Ilan students and faculty members were called to the front lines on the Syrian and Egyptian fronts. Many fell in the Golan Heights and Sinai.

Those remaining on campus volunteered for various war efforts, including sending hundreds of Psalms books to soldiers at the front, visiting the wounded, comforting the families of the absent and captive, and filling in for teachers deployed to various schools.

Due to the prolonged war, the opening of the academic year 1973-1974, which was supposed to begin in late October 1973, was postponed.

Students returned to campus on 23rd December, but many remained absent due to the state of readiness in various sectors. Bar-Ilan lecturers visited IDF units, delivered lectures, and provided books to the recruits. Lecture transcripts were also sent, and recorded films of study materials were distributed.

When the recruits returned, Bar-Ilan organized a special summer semester to help them catch up. It provided senior advisors in various departments to help them overcome the gap in their studies.

Prof. Yosef Tabori established a unique initiative from the Talmud department, who, beyond the call of duty, gathered about ten students for a course on “Introduction to Talmudic Literature.” The participants were recognized for their achievements by the Dean of the Faculty of Jewish Studies and the Humanities. Thus, an extension of Bar-Ilan was established in Eretz Goshan.

For wounded soldier students, the university mainly enlisted the help of English department staff who volunteered in hospitals and rehabilitation centers, providing lessons. For those emotionally or mentally affected by the war, Prof. Ben Lefin, the director of the School of Social Work, initiated the establishment of “Eran”, emotional first aid, which also assisted the Ministry of Defense in caring for families of the missing.

On 4th January 1974, Bar-Ilan held an evening of commemoration with approximately 1,500 students, faculty members, and bereaved families. The rector, Prof. Kadari, addressed the significance of the date, which marked the memorial ceremony – the Tenth of Tevet, also known as the general Kaddish Day:  “Even with a gap of 30 years, the shadow of the great tragedy accompanies us. If anyone sought to forget it, the Yom Kippur War and its aftermath reminded us of the unique existential situation of the people of Israel in all its severity.”