Love, TAU International Style
To mark Tu B’Av, the Israel’s festival of love and the equivalent of Valentine’s Day, three happy couples tell their stories
The unique experience of attending Tel Aviv University as an international student includes meeting people from diverse backgrounds and exchanging ideas. With the backdrop of TAU’s beautiful campus, it isn’t surprising that some of these connections can sometimes develop along romantic lines.
From India to Tel Aviv
Kaveri Banerjee, 27 and her fiancé Krishnanad Padmanabhan, 29, are from two geographic extremes parts of India – Kaveri from Calcutta in the North, and Krishna from Kerala in the South. The two would probably never have met in their native land, but fate brought them to Tel Aviv University to pursue medical studies. They met and fell in love while living in the university dorms. “ “Krishna and I started dating and found we had much in common. We not only fell in love with one another, but also with Israel, with Tel Aviv and with Tel Aviv University,” says Kaveri.
Now, both studying for their PhDs at TAU – Kaveri in life sciences and Krishna in medicine – the couple plans to marry in early 2018.
From left: Krishnanad Padmanabhan; Krishna’s mother, Mrs. Jayanthi Iyer; Kaveri Banerjee; Kaveri’s mother, Mrs. Soumira Banerjee; and Kaveri’s younger sister, Ms. Sunetra Banerjee
Kaveri is doing her research in stem cell technology while Krishna researches a novel technique for understanding fundamental biological processes.
“The expertise that we are gaining here will be essential to our future careers,” says Kaveri. “We have facilities and resources here that we could only dream about,” she says.
When they decided to marry, it was important – although not essential – for them to get the consent of their families in India, so they travelled to India and the two families met in Calcutta. The families got on well and they’re looking forward to a week-long traditional Indian wedding next January which will be celebrated both in Calcutta and in Kerala.
After completing their PhDs at TAU, they plan to move on to another country, either for post-doctoral studies or to work in industry. “We both love travelling. We are open and will see where fate will lead us,” says Kaveri, adding, “but we plan to stay connected with Israel and with the friends we met here.”
Digging one another
Eli Itkin, 29, from Jerusalem and Erin Hall, 27, from the Connecticut, USA, met while taking part in archaeological digs at the TAU-led site of Megiddo in 2012. With a deep interest in Southern Levantine archaeology, and despite having no previous connection to Israel, Erin decided to do her MA in TAU’s International Program in Archaeology.
Eli Itkin and Erin Hall
Eli was also studying archaeology at TAU and the two found they had a lot in common. “Eli is attractive and funny and fun to be around and I think he thought the same about me,” says Erin. Erin is now doing her PhD in the Department of Archaeology and Near Eastern Studies at the Lester and Sally Entin Faculty of Humanities, while Eli is doing an MA in the same department. The two don’t have fixed plans for the future for now, beyond completing their studies, but meanwhile, they’re enjoying being together and sharing their common interests.
A benchmark romance
For Tal Widerman, 31 from Israel and his American wife, Shahar, 28, there’s a special place in Kibbutz Tuval in the Western Galilee. It’s a bench, now inscribed with their names where they chatted together while on a study tour from TAU International. Both Tal and Shahar were enrolled on TAU’s Sofaer Global MBA Program at the Coller School of Management. Despite being Israeli, Tal chose the Sofaer MBA because he wanted to strengthen his English business communications skills.
“For us, that bench amongst the greenery of Kibbutz Tuval was a special place,” says Shahar. “It was there that Tal proposed to me, and it’s where we go whenever there’s a special occasion. We’re planning to be there for Tu B’Av.”
The couple got married in Israel and Shahar made Aliyah. “My purpose in coming to Israel was to develop my professional and personal life,” says Shahar. “The Sofaer Program gave me the skills I needed for an international career in business marketing and I met Tal, my future husband. The Sofaer experience has changed the direction of my entire life and I am happy I made Aliyah,” she says.
“Shahar and Tal – the place where love began and strengthened”
Today, Tal is a marketing director at the hi-tech firm Visuality Systems, while Shahar is working in the marketing department of Philip Morris International.
TAU International is today the leading and most diversified international studies destination in Israel, with over 2,000 students annually from over 100 countries enrolled in study abroad, summer & language sessions as well as 16 full degree programs taught in English. Programs range from Middle Eastern studies and Cyber Security to diplomacy, disaster management and electrical engineering. The programs form an integral part of TAU’s drive to globalize its studies, share its know-how with the world, cement a love of Israel among the next generation of Diaspora Jewry and produce new generations of goodwill ambassadors for Israel.
Featured Photo: Tal and Shahar Widerman