Main Educational Activities

Since the age of 23, as a young graduate student at the Weizmann Institute, Haim Harari participated in attempts to improve science education in Israel. He was one of the founding members, in 1963 of the "Rehovot Group", led by the late Professor Amos de Shalit, which started the educational activities of the Weizmann Institute. In 1970, at age 29, he became head of the Department of Science Teaching at the same Institute. In 1972, he became the Dean of the Feinberg Graduate School of the Weizmann Institute, overseeing the education of almost one-third of all science Ph.D. in Israel and serving in this capacity till 1978. He was chair of the Physics curriculum committee of the Israeli Ministry of Education (1973-1978) and two decades later (1995-1998) Chair of the Board of the National Science Teaching Center, established by the Ministry.


In 1974, together with a graduate student in Computer Science (Rony Attar), he established a program of recruiting university students as "tutors" or "mentors" to children from low socio-economic backgrounds. The program was started by Attar and Harari with a handful of volunteers and eventually led to a nationwide project with 25,000 undergraduates, serving as tutors to more than 25,000 children. Every student participant receives a stipend, which covers almost half of the University tuition. Harari named the program "Perach", "flower" in Hebrew, but also the Hebrew acronym for a "tutoring project". Attar became the first director of the project and, for almost forty years, until 2015, Harari served as the Chairman of its National Council. The Perach program is operated from headquarters at the Weizmann Institute. "Perach" has been awarded the Israel Prize for 2008 for a major contribution to society and to the State. Over one million Israelis have been Perach tutors-mentors or have been helped by Perach mentors, since the founding of the organization.


In 1967, Harari became the first Physics consultant for two major series of Physics programs at Israel's Educational TV. Years later, in the 1990s, he initiated, wrote and appeared as an anchor in a five-part educational TV series, in Hebrew, on "100 Years of Science; How They Changed Our Lives". In addition, he has given, over six decades, numerous popular scientific lectures to the general public, in Israel and abroad.


In 1987 Harari initiated and led the establishment of the "Hemda" Science Teaching Center in Tel-Aviv. In that Center, most high school students from the entire city of Tel-Aviv, who choose the highest level of Physics and Chemistry, take their entire science courses, taught by Ph.D. or M.Sc. teachers, using first-class labs, equipment, and facilities. The center continues to flourish, catering to well over 1000 Physics and Chemistry high school students. Harari has served, for twenty years, until 2007, as Chairman of the Board of Hemda. A second branch of the same educational enterprise has been established in 2013 at the Weizmann Institute, by its President Daniel Zajfman.


In 1991 the Minister of Education of Israel appointed a national panel, headed by Harari, to chart a plan for advancing Math, Science and Technology Education in the Israeli school system. In 1992 the panel submitted a report, entitled "Tomorrow 98". It was adopted in full by three consecutive Ministers of Education and was largely implemented between 1992 and 1997. However, in 1998, significant parts of the program were abandoned by the then-new minister, who did not think that science education was a priority.


During the '90s, while serving as President of the Weizmann Institute, at the initiative of Dr. Moshe Rishpon, Harari made the decision and raised the funds for the establishment of the "Clore Garden of Science", an outdoor interactive science museum, and of the "Laub Youth Village" a dormitory center and recreation facility for 80 youngsters, used for science summer camps and school science visits throughout the year.


In the mid-'90s, together with the director-general of the Ministry of Education, Dr. Shimshon Shoshani and the chairman of the national lottery, Gideon Gadot, Harari initiated the model for the National Lottery Science and Art Centers ("Eshkolot Payis") in more than 60 towns in Israel. These centers now serve as focal points of numerous activities in science and art education.


In 1999 Harari established the "Davidson Institute of Science Education at the Weizmann Institute of Science". This is a separate Institute, on the Weizmann campus, dedicated to numerous educational projects for teachers, school students, and the general public, in Mathematics, Science and Technology. In 2007 the Davidson Institute has been expanded to include most educational field activities of the Weizmann Institute. The Davidson Institute operates more than 70 different programs in science education, involving several hundred thousand participants and employs approximately 200 people. Harari has been the Chairman of the Board of the Davidson Institute from 1999 to 2015.


In 2004 Harari was awarded the EMET prize for education for his contribution and innovations in science education.