Following a complex process that lasted several weeks, the Rhodes Scholarship selection committee has chosen two Israeli scholarship recipients for the year 2021: Eden Amare Yitbarek from Reichman University and Eli Zuzovsky from Harvard University. The two will begin their studies at Oxford in October 2021.
23-year-old Eden Amare Yitbarek was born in Israel and raised in Ethiopia. She graduated from IDC with honors with a Bachelor's degree in Government, Diplomacy and Strategy. Eden worked as a research assistant for the American Presidential Rhetoric Project and volunteered as a teacher and mentor at an elementary school for children of refugee and immigrant children in Tel Aviv. During her studies, she made the Dean’s List twice, was granted the “Israel at Heart” scholarship, and was selected for the Argov Fellows Program for Leadership and Diplomacy. In 2018, she interned at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. Eden is the first student from IDC Herzliya to receive a Rhodes Scholarship, and she intends to pursue a Master's degree in International Development at Oxford.
The Rhodes Scholarship for graduate studies at Oxford University is one of the most prestigious academic scholarships in the world, and Oxford, by all international indices, is ranked as one of the best universities in the world. The scholarship (named for Cecil Rhodes) has been around for over a hundred years, beginning in 1903, and is awarded to outstanding students from all over the world. Former Rhodes scholars include renowned academics, intellectuals and politicians, including former United States President Bill Clinton, former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, former Canadian Prime Minister John Turner, the Obama administration's National Security Adviser Susan Rice, astronomer Edwin Hubble, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, Nobel laureate Howard Florey, former basketball player and New Jersey senator Bill Bradley, and more.
In 2016, the Rhodes Trust announced that the scholarship program was expanding to accept applicants from other countries, including Israel (two scholarships for two students each year). The prestigious scholarship is awarded for two years of postgraduate studies in any field the student chooses to study at Oxford, and includes registration fees, tuition, living expenses, flights, housing and more. Students have the option of extending the scholarship for an additional year. The conditions for applying for the scholarship are rigorous and include, among other things, excellence in undergraduate studies, English at a high academic level, and being between the ages of 19 and 27.
This is the fifth cycle of the scholarship program in Israel since it began in 2016. Doron Weber, National Secretary for the Rhodes Scholarships in Israel and chairman of the selection committee, said that the group of candidates for this year's scholarship was exceptionally outstanding, and that the committee was deeply impressed by winners Eden and Eli’s personal journeys and their extraordinary moral character, academic excellence, and powerful example in speaking for underrepresented groups in Israeli society.
Weber added that the key criterion in selecting students for the Rhodes Scholarship is academic excellence alongside leadership ability, and that the Trust sees the candidates as those who are likely and deserving to be in senior leadership positions in the future. About 40 candidates applied for the scholarship this year, 12 of whom were selected to be interviewed in the final stage of the meticulous selection process. Ultimately, the two exceptional candidates were chosen following two days of discussions and interviews.
The selection committee is comprised of senior academic figures and Rhodes scholars who are in influential positions in Israel and around the world. The committee members in the current cycle are chairman Doron Weber, Dr. Nadine Trachtenberg, Ms. Sarah Kass, Prof. Hossam Haick, Amit Kumar, Winston Churchill, and David Karl.
The second winner of this year's scholarship is Eli Zuzovsky, 25, a film and literature student at Harvard University. He is the features editor of The Harvard Advocate, the oldest student culture magazine in the United States. He has won several awards during his time at Harvard, including the Phi Beta Kappa honor society, the John Harvard Scholarship, and the Artist Development Fellowship.