CJN Article: "New CFHU Exec Urges Investment In ‘Human Resources’"
by Sheri Shefa
May 3, 2012
Elan Divon, the newly appointed executive director of Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s (CFHU) Toronto chapter, said he hopes to communicate that an investment in Hebrew U is an investment in Israel’s future.
“I’m trying to mobilize people’s love and passion for Israel toward investing in a place that is, in many ways, a big part of Israel’s success as a country,” said Divon, who follows Jenifer Lev into his new role with CFHU, a non-profit organization that raises awareness and funds for the university.
Divon comes to CFHU from UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, where he served as a senior campaign consultant.
The experience he gained elevating UJA’s profile and raising funds translates well to his new position.
“What I’d like to do is try to make the connection in terms of how we brand the university,” Divon said.
“What separates Israel from our neighbours is certainly not our natural resources, it’s our human resources. And to invest in human resources, you have to invest in universities, and there’s no better way to do that than to invest in Israel’s number 1 academic institution.”
Hebrew U, founded in 1918 by some of the greatest Jewish minds of the 20th century, ranks as one of the world’s leading research universities. Eight Nobel Prizes have been awarded to Hebrew U faculty.
Although Divon is not a Hebrew U grad himself – he obtained masters degrees from Brandeis University and Harvard University – he does have a very personal connection to the institution.
“I wouldn’t be sitting here today, literally, if it wasn’t for Hebrew University because my parents met there. They’re both alumni,” he said.
“They had met before then. My dad was injured in the army – he got a bullet in his leg – and my mother was a nurse, but they lost contact and they met again at a Hebrew University discotheque about a year later.”
Divon added that his grandfather also taught in the faculty of medicine at the university.
As an accomplished scholar himself, Divon said he is proud of the importance Hebrew U places on higher learning, innovation and thinking outside the box.
He hopes he’ll be successful in relating that message to Jewish young professionals in Toronto.
In fact, the first major event running under Divon’s leadership, featuring entrepreneur Ben Casnocha, is geared specifically to Jews between the ages of 20 and 40.
The May 16 event, titled The Start-Up of You!, will be led by Casnocha, a technology entrepreneur who founded his first startup when he was just 14 years old and has been named by Business Week as “one of America’s top young entrepreneurs.”
His lecture will be based on a new book he co-authored with LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, titled The Start-Up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career.
“He’s a young guy, a young entrepreneur… I think he’ll talk about how to get people to think like an entrepreneur,” Divon said.
“This is really catered to young professionals. We want to do more events and programs that are going to bring value to young professionals and tie into what Hebrew University is about.”
Divon said he also has ambitions to foster more ties between educational institutions and other Canadian agencies, such as the Canada-Israel Industrial Research and Development Foundation.
“There is a lot of great research and development and innovation that is happening in Canada, and we think that if we can bring together some of the great minds that we’ve got here in Toronto together with the great work going on at Hebrew University, we can really take things further and do even greater things.”
For more information, visit www.cfhu.org.