A New Rector-Elect at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem


Professor Sarah Stroumsa

On Wednesday, the Senate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem elected Professor Sarah Stroumsa (homepage) as the next Rector (provost) of the Hebrew University. For the first time since its establishment, the Hebrew University has elected a woman to its highest post of academic leadership.

The situation of the Israeli higher education is complicated and constantly on the verge of a crisis. But this election is a reason for celebration for the HU, and is part of an ongoing change in the Israeli society as a whole.

Leah Goldberg, 1946

Professor Leah Goldberg

 On this occasion, I would like to dedicate to Sarah and to the HU community a poem entitled “Rainbow”, written by the poet Leah Goldberg.  Leah Goldberg was an important scholar and a professor at the Hebrew University, and she is most famous as one of the greatest Hebrew writers of modern times. It is a poem for children, which I also regard as a metaphor of academic and other quests. To further celebrate the event (and in the tradition of Ehud Friedgut’s translation contest of a limerick on Konigsberg’s bridges and Euler), I am announcing an open contest for translating the poem into English. Please email me your translations or post them directly here. (You can find a very rough literal translation below.)




בשמיים ראיתי קשת,
היא עמדה ממש מול הרחוב
ורציתי אליה לגשת
ולראות אותה מקרוב.
והתחלתי ללכת, ללכת,
ועליתי על ראש גיבעה.
אך ככל שהרחקתי לכת
הקשת לא קרבה:

 עופי, עופי, יפת כנפיים!
עופי, עופי אל המרום,
אל הקשת אשר בשמיים
ומיסרי לה בירכת שלום.

 היא עמדה במרום רקיע
כמצויירת על עננה,
אז ידעתי שלא אגיע
ושלחתי אליה יונה.
בשמיים יונה וקשת,
בשמיים הדרך פתוחה
וטיפות ראשונות של גשם
מבשרות שנת שלום וברכה

עופי, עופי, יפת כנפיים



To get started here is a literal translation:


In the sky I saw a rainbow.

She stood just across the street

and I wanted to go to her(*)

and see her up close.

And I started going and going,

and climbed to the top of a hill,

but the further I went

The rainbow did not get any closer.

Fly, fly, you with the beautiful wings!

fly fly to the sky,

to the rainbow in the sky and

give her my blessing.

She stood there on the top of the sky

as if painted on a cloud,

and then I knew I will not reach her

and I sent her a dove.

In the sky – a dove and a rainbow,

in the sky the road is open,

and first drops of rain

signal a year of blessing and peace.

Fly, fly, you with the beautiful wings! …


(*) In Hebrew “to her” (“el-lea”), also sounds as “to Leah”.

The rainbow was gone the next minute.

A rainbow picture on Izabella Laba’s blog.

This entry was posted in Poetry, Women in science and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to A New Rector-Elect at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem

  1. anon says:

    very beautiful; i dont know hebrew but i am relying on the translation……thanks for the poem and other wonderful stories on the blog ….although i could never hope to understand the kind of combinatorial mathematics that you do this blog and some others provide a lot of fun and information …….

  2. Hi! I programmed an attractive online calculator that find the greatest common divisor(GCD) between two numbers. I will be happy, if you add the link in your blog. I hope that you and your visitors will enjoy!



  3. Pingback: The Beauty of Mathematics « Combinatorics and more

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