"How many people do you have the privilege of being friends with for 50 years?"
Professor Emeritus of Journalism Edward Trayes fondly remembers his good friend and former student Yair Stern, KLN '70, who currently resides in Jerusalem, Israel. When Stern started as a master's student in Temple University's Journalism Department in 1968, he was in the early stages of his career as a journalist. He would go on to be one of the most influential media figures in Israeli history, and is now giving back to the Ed Trayes Scholarship Fund in order to honor the college and the professor who influenced his views on journalism and friendship. The purpose of the Ed Trayes Scholarship Fund is to provide support to students with financial need who are enrolled in the Masters of Journalism program, or any undergraduate student interested in photojournalism at Klein College of Media and Communication.
Stern began his career as a sportswriter as a teenager. Following his mandatory service in the Israeli Army, he joined Maariv, which was the largest newspaper in Israel at the time, as a reporter. He also attended Tel Aviv University to earn a bachelor's in political science.
Stern first visited Philadelphia during a study exchange program hosted by Rotary International. After speaking with Journalism Department faculty members, Stern knew that Temple's professional values and active journalism program were the perfect setting in which to earn a master's degree.
One of the first — and favorite — of Stern's professors was Trayes. He remembers Trayes poking fun at him during his first semester because although he could understand the English lectures just fine, he took notes much quicker in Hebrew. This wasn't his only adjustment to life at Temple — Stern remembers that when he first moved to Philadelphia with his wife and 15-month-old baby in 1968, neither television nor disposable diapers had reached the Israeli mainstream (both would come just a few years later).
"Today the world is a small village, but then the cultural difference between the United States and Israel was huge," he said.
Still, he bonded with Trayes right away. They have remained close ever since, exchanging letters and holiday greetings for over 50 years. In fact, when Stern was honored with a Lew Klein Alumni in the Media Award in 2008, he described his reunion with Trayes in Philadelphia only as "heaven!"
"I have a great appreciation of Ed Trayes," Stern said. "He is the only professor that I keep a friendship with for over 50 years."
Stern went on to become a major influential figure in Israeli media, first in 1979 as the chief producer for Israel National Television's news division, then as editor-in-chief of the Evening News in 1982. Later, in 1989, Stern was sent to Washington, D.C., as a correspondent and bureau chief. He was then nominated to be the director general of Israeli Television, which was then the only TV channel in Israel, in 1993.
After retiring from television in 2000, Stern became a private media consultant until 2008. He just retired from his position as chairman of the Board of Directors of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra last year, a property of Israeli TV.
Through this long list of accomplishments, Trayes has always encouraged Stern from his faculty office in Annenberg Hall. Though he certainly wasn't expecting Stern to honor his retirement — which happened to coincide with Stern's own — with a generous monetary gift that will contribute to providing financial assistance to graduate and undergraduate journalism students who are interested in photojournalism, he says that he also isn't surprised.
"It means a great deal," Trayes said. "That's Yair. He didn't have to do it, but he did."
Upon reflection, Trayes added that Stern represents many of the things he loves about teaching at Temple University; not only was Stern's hard work and professionalism a hallmark of Owls throughout the years, but his background represented the diversity that Temple values in its students and alumni.
"It's such a privilege to be able to teach the kinds of students we've had over the years at Temple," Trayes said. "It's a thing I've always loved about Temple; when you get a new class of students each semester it's like opening a gift, because you never know who is going to be there."
This sentiment holds just as true today as it did 50 years ago. While the technology and reporting tools they use may be different, today's journalism students continue Temple's deep-seated values in reporting and storytelling. Stern said that his advice to the journalists of the future, and especially those who will be uplifted as a result of his and Trayes' legacies, is to "Remember that in any story, no matter what field or walk of life, they [the subjects] are human beings. And human beings have feelings."
If you wish to make a donation to the Ed Trayes Scholarship Fund, please visit giving.temple.edu/EdTrayesScholarshipFund.
To learn more about establishing a scholarship or supporting Klein students in other ways, please contact Karen Gallagher, assistant dean, development and alumni relations at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to giving.temple.edu/kleincollege.