Professor Sydney Engelberg, 67, of Hebrew University was surprised when he learned a photo of him holding a student’s baby had gone viral.
The mother of the baby posted the picture on social media after the professor offered to hold her crying child so she could remain in the class on organizational management. Her original post has gotten over a million views and many positive comments.
The professor was dubbed “Professor of the Year” and “Most Valuable Professor,” among other complimentary titles.
“This is a professor who truly cares about the education of his students. Seriously,” someone commented.
“This is awesome. Way to go professor,” said another commenter.
Engelberg’s daughter, Sarit Fishbaine, posted the picture on her Facebook account, where it got nearly 50,000 likes.
“My dad just loves kids and loves babies, he has five grandchildren, so he just takes the baby,” Fishbaine said. “He’s the one that’s in motion, he’s walking around the class. So he just takes the baby and continues teaching.”
Engelberg, a father of four, grandfather of five and professor for 45 years, has been pleasantly surprised by the reactions around the world. He encourages students to bring their infants to class and lets mothers breastfeed during class.
“The reason is that education for me is not simply conveying content, but teaching values,” he said. “How better than by role modeling?”
His family is amused by the reaction. “He’s gotten love letters,” Engelber’s wife, Fredi Siskind Engelberg said, adding her husband has gotten many calls from radio and TV stations. “He’s pretty blasé about it, and we just find it all very funny. I think it must have happened on a no-news day.”
Nor is Engelberg the only professor who supports students with young children. The Israeli Student Union said the social media explosion following the incident was “the sweetest trend,” and posted pictures of other professors with their students’ babies during class.
“Israel is a very familial society, and it is not at all strange for young mothers to bring children to classes. Babies are often brought to weddings or formal occasions, and during school holidays it is not uncommon to see children running through the halls of office buildings or university departments,” Jonathan Kaplan, vice provost at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said.