Amram Sherby

Last summer, Operation Protective Edge had a visible impact on the Bar-Ilan campus, as hundreds of students and faculty were called off to reserve duty right in the middle of summer finals.

Sargent (res.) Amram Sherby, 26, a student of Communications and Political Science, spent 32 days sitting in a hot, cramped tank on the outskirts of Gaza. His mission as tank driver was clear: secure tunnels that had been dug from Gaza into Israel and ensure that no one came crawling out of them.

Just two weeks before the Operation began, Amram participated in a Taglit Birthright trip as a representative of Israeli student life, volunteering for a program run through the Bar-Ilan Student Union. The personal connections he made during this trip kept him strong during that long month in the tank.

"That experience gave me a new perspective on how foreigners view Israel,” he says about the Taglit program, which was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Bar-Ilan just last month. “I gained a new appreciation for Zionism, especially as a student of Bar-Ilan University and son of Olim from the US.”

Over the course of those 32 days, serving under constant rocket fire, Amram received endless messages and calls from family, fellow students at BIU, and from his new friends. "Everybody, the guys from Taglit, my friends back home, my brothers in arms, we all knew we weren't just fighting for the state of Israel. We were protecting the future of the entire Jewish people. Those calls and messages gave me the support and encouragement I needed to make it through."

Amram returned to finish his exams after the ceasefire was announced. "There was total acceptance. Fellow students who stayed behind were extremely respectful and appreciative.” Now more than ever, Amram is certain: “Bar-Ilan is the perfect fit for me. Here I have been given the opportunity to learn in a religious environment that also provides endless opportunities for students to learn and grow- even outside the classroom, while always remembering our duty of protecting our own."