Hermina Shiff – Exporting AHAVA Products with Love

A proud alumna who holds a BSc in physics and also completed BIU’s diploma course in international sales, Hermina Shiff speaks Spanish, German, Russian, Ukranian, Polish and Romanian, in addition to English and Hebrew. But after 17 years as export manager for Israel’s most famous cosmetics firm, Schiff is also proficient in the language of love.


“AHAVA means love in Hebrew, and at AHAVA Dead Sea Laboratories we export products people love to 25 countries,” says Shiff, who was born in the Western Ukraine and immigrated to Israel as a teenager. “It helps that I can move easily from one language to another.”


The descendant of Vizhnitz Hassidim, Shiff chose Bar-Ilan for its academics, as well as for the vibrancy of Jewish life on the BIU campus. One member of the Jewish community, in particular, caught her eye.


“As the only woman studying physics, I used to hang out with friends in the chemistry department,” she says. “That’s where I met my husband, Avner, a native Israeli. He started out tutoring me in chemical subjects, but a different kind of ‘chemistry’ soon developed!  Avner was called up during the Yom Kippur War, but we married on the steps of the Chief Rabbinate while he was on 24-hour leave. He wasn’t discharged until the following May.”


After working as a chemist for Israel Military Industries, Shiff’s husband passed away eight years ago, at the age of 57.  The couple’s daughter, Shlomit, has carried on the BIU connection, graduating with a degree in economics and logistics in 2005.


“Just like my experience as a student, my daughter has made wonderful friends at Bar-Ilan,” Shiff says. “The training we received from the university formed the basis of our future success.  That’s why I’m so proud to see BIU still going strong – and growing – on its 60th anniversary.”