A university professor who has become an Internet sensation for helping to calm a student's infant mid-lecture has a long history of encouraging his students to bring their children to class.

A photo of Prof. Sydney Engelberg holding a student's child during one of his lectures has gone viral, being shared more than 5,000 times on Facebook and viewed more than 1.1 million times on Imgur.

According to Engelberg, the infant began to cry uncontrollably during one of his classes at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel. As the child's mother stood to leave the room, Engelberg took the child, calmed him down and continued with his lecture on organizational behaviour.

"It was a spontaneous act … I realized that she was going to have to leave the class, and if somebody didn't do something then she was going to miss the material she was trying to study," Engelberg told CTV News Channel.

Engelberg said that he has been "totally overwhelmed" by the attention he has received, particularly because it wasn’t the first time he's had to calm down a student's child.

His daughter, Sarit Fishbaine, told CTV’s Canada AM earlier Friday that Engelberg has been encouraging his students to bring their children to his classes for years, believing that having kids shouldn't be an impediment to learning.

"I'm not really surprised, this is the kind of professor he is," Fishbaine said. "For years he's been telling his students, 'Bring your children to class. It's fine… they're an integral part of the class. We'll deal with them.'"

She added that this type of behaviour falls in line with her father's character, as he has always been a highly involved parent.

"My dad has always been a very involved dad," she said. "He was always changing diapers, making bottles and doing the laundry. It was never a big deal in our house."

Fishbaine posted the photo of her father to her Facebook page on Monday, with the intention of sharing the story with family and friends. She too said she wasn't prepared for the reaction generated online.

"Somehow, just a few hours later it started going viral all over the place, we're still shocked," Fishbaine said. "We're finding this whole situation funny and a little bit embarrassing."

As the photo made the rounds on the Internet, many praised Engelberg for his simple and caring action.

"Humanity at its finest," one Facebook user commented on the photo.

Another Facebook user commented, "Well done. Lectures with a soul that encourage mothers to learn."

Fishbaine said beyond simply recognizing the kind gesture, her father would like people to take away the message that education is about more than just learning a set curriculum.

"Education is not only about teaching dry facts. But it's about setting role models and teaching values," she said.