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Honoring excellence

Weizmann Institute bestowed eight honorary degrees in 2019


Special events

Date: November 5, 2019
Weizmann Magazine Vol. 17

The Weizmann Institute of Science bestowed honorary doctorates on eight distinguished individuals whose contributions to society have had a tangible and celebrated impact. The degrees of PhD honoris causa were conferred at a festive ceremony on November 12 during the 71st Annual General Meeting of the International Board.

The Weizmann Institute’s 2019 PhD laureates are:

President Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin, 10th President of the State of Israel. President Rivlin has devoted his life to connecting people around the world to the beauty and sanctity of Jerusalem. His rich career in public service includes seven terms in the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, two terms as Knesset Speaker, and two terms as Minister of Communication. President Rivlin has come to symbolize deep and respectful communication, something that has earned him his people’s respect, and their love.


Mrs. Rebecca Boukhris, Trustee of the Adelis Foundation. An accomplished international banker, Mrs. Boukhris has successfully advanced the mission of the Foundation’s founder, the late André Deloro: to support the State of Israel and the Jewish people. Supporting social and educational initiatives, the Adelis Foundation also provides critical support for the Weizmann Institute’s programs in physics, chemistry, and the study of disease.


Prof. Jonathan Dorfan, a particle physicist and the former President of the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University in Japan, led the design and construction of the B-factory accelerator complex and coordinated other projects at SLAC—the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center that enabled experiments leading to the 2008 Nobel Prize. A member of the Weizmann Institute’s International Board, and longtime co-chair of its Scientific and Academic Advisory Committee, Prof. Dorfan’s career achievements and institutional impact have made him a treasured leader of the world scientific community.



Mario Fleck, South American business leader and philanthropist who helped develop the Brazilian Committee for the Weizmann Institute and serves as its President. Under Fleck’s charismatic leadership, the Brazilian Committee became a community dedicated to supporting cancer research—a goal significantly advanced with the inauguration of the Weizmann-Brazil Tumor Bank, an on-campus facility providing critical resources for scientists seeking to advance studies related to cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and cure.


Mr. Alex Levac, a photojournalist, is an Israel Prize laureate who elevates the human condition by framing everyday scenes with humor and compassion. The self-declared “paparazzi of the anonymous,” Mr. Levac has created riveting images that document the joys and struggles of people around the world, and give a lasting visual expression to one of history’s most astounding accomplishments: the re-establishment of the Jewish people as a free nation in its ancient homeland.



Prof. Raphael Mechoulam, pioneering research scientist who discovered THC—the psychoactive ingredient of the cannabis plant—as well as the neural circuits that process THC in the brain. A Weizmann alumnus who earned his PhD at the Institute, Prof. Mechoulam’s high-impact findings were of foundational significance for today’ growing medical cannabis industry, and continue to drive important advances in the field of drug design.



Prof. Martha C. Nussbaum is a philosopher associated with the University of Chicago whose research encompasses everything from law, to divinity, to classics, to ethics, to cognitive neuroscience. Nussbaum is one of the founders of the Capabilities Approach—an acclaimed theoretical model designed to point out what people need to have in order to live a good and successful life. By championing the place of emotion in the establishment and understanding of human values, her work helps us understand divisions in society, and offers new strategies for overcoming them.


Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz is the first person since the medieval sage Rashi to have completed a full translation of and commentary on the Babylonian Talmud, and of the Bible, into modern Hebrew, as well as English, French, Russian, and Spanish. Internationally regarded as one of the greatest rabbis of this century and of the last, Steinsaltz—whose academic background includes university training in mathematics, physics, and chemistry—is an educator who founded schools, and, through his personal teaching, continues to promote spiritual advancement for every human being through the removal of obstacles to Jewish learning.