Josh Weixelbaum: Garnering Awards and Diplomatic Expertise

From the outset of his BIU academic career, Josh Weixelbaum has been making a name for

 himself as he adeptly “represents” eminent global figures and wide-ranging views. The US-born undergrad, who is enrolled in BIU’s new English-language BA Social Science Program, is an influential member of the Bar-Ilan Model UN Society, which is under the auspices of the Dean of Student’s Office and the School of Communication. He won “Best Delegate” role-playing as Chinese rep to the Security Council at Israel’s Model UN competition in Haifa last winter. At the 2012 Pennsylvania United Nations Conference, Weixelbaum “filled in” for President Barak Obama on the mock Secretary General’s Committee and earned first place for his creative, out-of-the-box ideas during debates on complex issues with so-called “world leaders.”


Weixelbaum says he was attracted to BIU because “I wanted to study at a university that is both highly respected academically, yet has a strong Zionist and Jewish character.” He is challenged by the “high level Jewish studies courses” which he takes and has come to “appreciate Israel in new ways, just seeing the many people on campus, speaking to different professors and learning about the country through interesting academic courses.”


Formerly from New Jersey, Weixelbaum came to Israel after high school to attend Yeshivat Hakotel in Jerusalem’s Old City. He later enlisted in the IDF, serving as a combat solder in the Givati Brigade’s Shaked Battalion, before enrolling at BIU in October 2011.


He opted for the Interdisciplinary Social Sciences program since “it helps streamline my studies by combining Political Science and Economics into a single major as well as exposure to other related subjects connected to the field, such as Sociology – which provides me with a unique context to learn about societal change, and how government and society interact. More importantly, studying in an English-language BA program allows me to succeed without compromising on a quality education simply because of a language barrier.” He and his 30 fellow participants from overseas take part in joint activities with local students to facilitate their absorption into Israeli society and campus life. In 2012/2013, BIU is offering three unique study tracks: Interdisciplinary Macro Social Sciences (Economics, Political Science, Sociology); Interdisciplinary Micro Social Sciences (Criminology, Psychology, Sociology); and Communication and Political Science.


Weixelbaum believes that a BIU degree is advantageous. “Bar-Ilan has one of the most reputable Political Science departments in the country,” he opines, mentioning that he has gained much from faculty who engaged him in lively debates which ultimately sharpened his rhetorical skills (especially useful in the Model UN). The University, he says, “offers connections that I likely can’t get in many places – for example, its numerous conferences and Ambassador’s Forum, which bring key diplomats to campus. BIU also offers an intimate atmosphere, even though it’s quite a large university, allowing me accessibility to important academicians, to join and excel at Model UN already in my first year, and to meet influential members of Israeli government and diplomacy via BIUMUN.”


Active in politics and advocacy, he says that at Bar-Ilan, he has “gained knowledge in diplomacy, learned how to polish and perfect my speeches, have begun to understand how to view conflict from opposing viewpoints, and in the process, made some great friends.”


Once he completes his BA, Weixelbaum plans to pursue a MA in Political Studies, and either join a Cadets Course in the Foreign Ministry or return to the IDF to serve in either the Spokesperson’s Office or the Foreign Relations Department. “After that, I’d like to serve Israel, either as a diplomat or in government. With the education I’m getting, and the connections I’m making, Bar-Ilan University should help me go a long way. “