Summer 2012

The Open University: A Family Affair

Please meet the Ben-Aharon family. Mother Ora, 32 year old son Eldad and 30-year old Ariel. A typical family? In some ways yes. But, in other ways no. The Ben-Aharon family just graduated together from the Open University, after having spent the past few years sharing notes, encouraging and helping each other succeed in their study tracks.

Like all students, the Ben-Aharon family of Jerusalem exchanged study notes and were stressed before exams. But, when most students stopped talking about academic goals at home, these three continued their discussions around the Shabbat table. That's what happens when a single family graduates with academic degrees, together.

Ora and her two sons, Eldad and Ariel, simultaneously completed their degrees at the Open University. Over the past few years, they shared the same classroom, helping each other whenever possible. "This was a very special family experience," Ora, a nurse at Kupat Holim and the Early Childhood Center, summarizes. She also remarks that their experience at the Open University helped strengthen her connection with her children.

Eldad agrees that this was an extraordinary time. "We traveled to classes and spent quality time conversing over many a cup of coffee," Eldad recalls. During the course of his undergraduate studies, where he also earned a teaching certificate, Eldad worked as a counselor at a dorm school. Today he teaches history and citizenship at a school in Jerusalem. Ariel, who works at a rehabilitation hostel, earned his Master's degree in sociology.

Eldad succeeded in overcoming his ADD problems, largely thanks to the support and help given by Ora and Ariel.

But the boys also helped Ora. "When we began to write our seminar papers, I was a little lost and had no idea where to begin," Ora recalls. "Eldad encouraged me all the time: he made sure to round up examples of other papers to help me get started and organized. Then when I finished, I helped him."

As the family graduated together, they all agreed that "they will miss this special time they had together at Open University."

Prof. Hagit Messer-Yaron commented at the graduation ceremony, "It is a great privilege for me to stand at the head of such a special university, where a single family – in some cases two, and in other cases, three – generations graduate together."