The Howard and Mary Edith Cosell association for Physical Education, Leisure and Health Promotion honors a remarkable man and his relationship to the Hebrew University.Established in 1986, the Cosell association is based within the Hebrew University’s Department of Physical Education, which has functioned since 1958 on its four campuses.The Cosell association annually serves more than 12,000 people on the three University campuses in Jerusalem, making it one of the largest such center in Israel. The participants are students, faculty and staff members, alumni and their family members. Members of the Jerusalem community at large participate in a variety of sponsored programs as well. For many years beginning in 1974, Howard Cosell was the creative force behind one of the most successful programs sponsored by the American Friends of the Hebrew University – the Annual Sports Torch of Learning Award Dinner in memory of the Munich Eleven.Over the years Mr. Cosell  built the dinner into a major annual event for athletes, team owners, and sports personalities from the entire gamut of athletic endeavor.These funds raised have enabled hundreds of students to further
their education at the Hebrew University and participate in the quality programming offered through the Cosell association. since howars cosell’s death in 1996, and the Cosell Endowment Fund continues to enable  the development and maintenance of the association’s facilities.Cosell Association Facilities:

The Edmond J. Safra Campus

 Housing the University’s Faculty of Science and the Jewish National and University Library, the Edmond J. Safra Campus at Givaat Ram is also the campus where the Cosell association headquartered ,in the newly renovated Sports complex donated by the Women’s League for Israel. It includes two gymnasiums, a physical fitness hall, the Aerobic and Fitness Center two squash courts, five tennis courts.The Grosberg National and University Stadium boasts facilities for track and field, including an Olympic track, while the Cohen Swimming Pool is an indoor and heated facility which services all levels of aquat OBG activities. 

Mount Scopus Campus
Rebuilt following the Six-Day War, after having been a desolate enclave in Jordanian-occupied territory for 19 years, it is today the home of the faculties of Humanities, Social Sciences and Law.The Montor Sports and Recreation Outdoor Center includes the Sir Gilbert tennis facility, with 10 tennis courts and two multi-purpose courts, The Weider Physical Fitness Club, including sophisticated exercise equipment, and AerobOBG Center and two activity halls, have been added to the Humanities Building on the Mt. Scopus campus.

In 2001, The Annette and M. Theodore N. Lerner Family (Washington D.C) Indoor Sports Center, which includes  a Sports Gymnasium, Swimming Pool and a Fitness facility, was dedicated.

The Lerner Sport Center is one of the most modern indoor sports facilities in Israel.

Medical Center At Ein Karem

The Health Sciences campus includes the Faculties of Medicine and Dental Medicine, Schools of Pharmacy, Public Health and Nursing and the famed Hadassah – Hebrew University Medical Center.

To augment these academic pursuits, the Cosell  association provides a physical fitness hall in the Wolfson Building which also houses the medical student dormitories.


Physical education and sports activities took place at the Hebrew University even since it was founded on Mount Scopus. In the 30’s the first sports facility was established – a gymnastics hall named for the Luria family of South Africa which was located adjacent to the Law Faculty. It was used for student exercise classes. After the War of Independence in 1948, which led to the transfer of the university to several buildings in Jerusalem, sports activities were overseen by a committee in which faculty and student representatives participated.

In 1952 the university Senate approved required physical education classes for students (one hour per week for a year). An office of mandatory sports was established along with a committee that was set up by the Student Federation to organize voluntary sports activities at the university. At that time professionals like Zeev Feldman in mandatory sports and Walter Frankel voluntary sports were put in charge.
In 1953 the Academic Sport Association (ASA) was established at the initiative of Hebrew University students (headed by Adin Talber and Ami Riklis) with the participation of other students from the university and the Technion in Haifa. Over the years ASA was expanded to include other universities and colleges.

During the 50s various sports programs were held at rented facilities as well as at the YMCA in Jerusalem, the Hebrew Gymnasium High School in the Rehavia neighborhood and the Music Academy. In 1958 the National University Stadium was inaugurated to mark the tenth anniversary of the state. It was the first sports facility at the Givat Ram campus of the Hebrew University. A gym was opened in 1964 at the campus, followed by an indoor swimming pool and squash courts in 1968 and five tennis courts between the years 1958-1968.

Sporting events that began in the 50s included the Magnes Race (1951). It was initially held in the streets of Jerusalem and later the venue was moved to the Givat Ram campus and today it is the oldest race in Israel. In addition annual sports days were held as part of Student Day including races of professors and meets between students from the Hebrew University, the Technion and the Physical Education College in Tel Aviv (that later became the Wingate Institute for Physical Education and Sport). In addition university sports teams were established as part of ASA Jerusalem. The first group was the men’s ASA Jerusalem basketball team and it was followed by sports teams in various branches for both men and women (up to 35 teams a year on average).
The team that was most successful over the years was the ASA Jerusalem women’s basketball team that participated for years and until recently in the National Women’s League. Student fencing teams were also  highly successful in Israel and abroad. Over the years additional annual sporting events like the International ASA Meet named in memory of Arie ‘Arinka’ Cohen; the Bezonsky basketball tournament; the Svika tennis tournament, the Barali Squash tournament; the Amir Fein Swim Meet and the Walter Frankel race. The later along with the Magnes race were held annually under the auspices of the Hebrew University.
In 1956 Hillel Raskin began managing the mandatory sports activities which were organized by the Student Federation. Two years later the activities were transferred to the administration of the university as part of a unified sports office that became the Physical Education Department in 1964 and in 1977 the Physical Education and Leisure Activities Center. These bodies operated as regular university units as part of the rector’s office. In 1986 the center became the Cosell Center for Physical Education, Leisure and Health Promotion that operated as an association under the sponsorship of the Hebrew University. That same year an academic program was opened for an M.A. in Physical Education Studies in Public Health at the Medical Faculty. Professor Hillel Raskin ran and taught at the program from the day of its inception. More than 100 students have graduated from the program since it began with many of them serving in key positions in the field of physical education and sports at government ministries, regional councils, community centers and the education system in Israel.
In 2006 the name of the center was changed to the “Cosell” Association for Physical Education, Leisure and Health Promotion based in the Hebrew University. By the 70s the mandatory student physical education classes had expanded with some 3,000 students taking part who were required to take four semesters including one in swimming. In 1982 the mandatory sports classes were cancelled and replaced by a voluntary program which gave students credits as part of their B.A. degrees in the Social Sciences and Agriculture Faculties. The program continues to this day.
Over the years additional sports facilities were added at the Mount Scopus and Ein Kerem campuses and the Montor Center for Sports and Leisure which includes sports facilities and 10 tennis courts. In 2002 the Lerner Family Sports Center was opened on Mount Scopus. The center includes a swimming pool, a basketball court, a large two-level fitness facility that overlooks East Jerusalem, a movement studio, a café and a well-designed lobby. In 2000 the Grossberg National University Stadium at the Safra Campus at Givat Ram was upgraded to an advanced track and field facility in cooperation with the Jerusalem Municipality.
From the 90s on more than 10,000 people from the student body, the academic staff and employees of the Hebrew University and their families as well as the general public participate in sports activities of the Cosell Association at the Hebrew University campuses. Most of the activities are geared for those with memberships to the various clubs at the center like the swimming pool, fitness gym, and the tennis and squash courts though services are also given on a one time entry basis.
The center has had a reputation over the years of innovative activities that became well known in Israel. The first fitness facility in Israel was established at the Cosell Center in 1963 with a gladiator device by the Universal Company. The device was the most advanced of its kind at the time and it became the inspiration and was copied with the building of fitness centers throughout Israel.
In 1979 Mrs. Shula Barkat held the first aerobic dance classes in Israel. In the 80s the first instruction and organized dancing events of world folk dancing in Israel was started by Barkat. This led to bi-annual seminars for training instructors as part of the process to introduce the field throughout Israel. The graduates of these courses today represent the principal instructors in this field in Israel.
The women’s exercise project to prevent osteoporosis began as an experimental research project in 1982. The activity was part of a research project by Mrs. Yehudit Ayalon under the guidance of Dr. Ariel Simkin. After the successful results of the research guidelines were drawn up and are used today at fitness centers throughout Israel and distributed through a book published by the center.
Another advances fitness facility was established at the Mount Scopus campus in 1985. The equipment was donated by the Vider family of Canada. More than 40 fitness devices were deployed and the facility was the first in Israel that represented a new concept of a large room with varied types of fitness equipment including for muscle training, free weights and the first aerobic devices.
The first aerobic center in Israel was opened at the Givat Ram sports center in 1991. The center was planned and opened by Kuti Meridian. The center had the first aerobic equipment in Israel and its innovative concept was imitated in all parts of Israel. The fitness center at the Lerner complex was inaugurated in April 2002 and represented a innovative concept for fitness activity at the center of which was an octagon shaped, designed and sophisticated structure. More than 40 fitness devices including the most advanced aerobic equipment of its kind: Technogym treadmills; Precor elliptical machines; recumbent stationary exercise bicycles, Wave fitness equipment; hand operated bicycles and rowing trainers. In addition more than 20 Technogym muscle workout devices and a free weight space plate loaded devices manufactured by the Hammer Company.
Over the years the center has had a number of charimen: Professor A. Z. Frenkel in the 50s; Professor David Ayalon in the 60s; Professor Moshe Maoz in the 70s; Professor Hillel Raskin from 1982-2002; Mr. Uri Shani 2002-2005; Mr. Yaakov (Koki) Edri from 2005-to present. The first managing director of the center was Professor Hillel Raskin from the 50s-the 70s; Yisrael Brinker 80s-90s and Dr. Kuti Meridian from 2001-to present.
The two-story fitness building at the Edmond Safra campus at Givat Ram was inaugurated in December 2008. The central lobby and changing rooms for the health club are located on the first level and the 550 square meter fitness complex is located on the second level. It includes four areas of activity which operate on a unique concept with more than 70 of the most advanced fitness devices in use today made by Technogym. Members also have three additional spaces for flexibility, stretching and stomach and back exercises; for equipment for developing muscle strength and for free weights. The building is connected directly to the swimming pool through a joint entrance lobby and offers members among the highest levels of leisure and fitness experience to be found in Israel. The building was designed by the architect Miki Kornhauser.
The second stage of the Lerner Center was completed in 2009. It includes two stories of fitness facilities spread over 870 square meters that have an open panoramic view of East Jerusalem, a level for changing rooms, and a basement level that serves as the Medical Sports Center. The building was planned by the architect Moshe Gil.
The finals of the Youth Maccabiah Games in July 2012 in which 1500 athletes from North American participated, along with parts of the official closing ceremonies were held at the amphitheater at the Safra campus in Givat Ram. The sports facilities at the Safra campus and the Lerner Center on Mount Scopus served as venues for many of the events of the 17th Maccabiah Games in July 2013. Men’s and women’s basketball matches including the finals were held at the two university sites. The European Fencing Championships for Youth in February 2014 including the finals were held at the sport’s hall at the Safra campus.
The basketball court at the Safra campus was upgraded in August 2014 on the 50th anniversary of the center. New basketball backboards and rings were installed that meet international standards, new stairs were added that connect the lower level of the changing rooms to the courts. In addition the parquet floors were refinished.
Beyond the sports and leisure activities that the center offered and offers it also is involved in a number of projects that serve the general public. Among the better known ones over the years are national physical educations seminars over the past 32 years in which thousands of physical education teachers too part. These conferences and courses exposed the teachers to the latest innovations in the field. The programs included “Tsabar” project (Hebrew acronym for young, healthy and refreshed) a national project geared for getting the public involved in physical activity which was initiated by the head of the center and “Sim Lev” (Pay Attention) a community project for encouraging physical activity, prevention of smoking and improving nutritional habits. The program led to the opening of wellness programs in community centers throughout Israel and fitness programs in industry which were initiated at the plants of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and later served as the basis for such activity at work places throughout Israel. It also served as the basis for the Milkosher” program for fitness of reserve soldiers by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and led to the development of fitness activities in the IDF in general. The center also contributed to the development of study programs and teaching material for physical education instruction for kindergartens and schools, development of programs and instruction material on leisure activity and the introduction of these programs in the educational system. The center also represented Israel at research institutes like the International Council for Physical Activity and Fitness Research, the organizing of various international conferences, representing Israel at international forums, and the developing of academic programs in physical education as part of the M.A. degree in Public Health at the Faculty of Medicine. Dozens of books, pamphlets and publications in the field of physical education by the center have assisted professionals in the field as well as the general public at large.
The Jewish Champions in Sports Center which was founded by a Dr. Paul Barnes of Los Angeles in 1974 and who headed its executive committee until it was transferred to the Hebrew University in 1984, where it is now housed at the center. Every   few years a gala ceremony is held under the auspices of the Jewish Champions in Sports Center where Jewish athletes are selected for their unique achievements in their fields of sport. Photographs of the recipients are on display at the offices of the Cosell Association.