Digital Brochure

The Magazine for Builders and Believers Spring 2022

Israel’s New Pioneers BGU launches Halutz, a global leadership initiative 06

Awards and more 24

Modern Day Ben-Gurions The 2021 Ben-Gurion

Discovering the Marcuses A new film explores BGU donors’ remarkable story 30

CONTENTS 04 MESSAGE Jeff Kaye Vice President for Public Affairs

Since joining Ben Gurion University of the Negev as its President, I've asked myself what is it that makes our supporters so dedicated to our success? What is the basis of the relationship that makes our friends from around the world as committed to us as we are to them?

and Resource Development

The answer, I believe, lies in the BGU mission. Our clear, critical mission – the development of the Negev for the future of Israel and the world – has allowed us to partner with devoted supporters around the world. By joining the BGU community, you know you are supporting Israel and Zionism, helping to make the world a better place for future generations. Your support lets us go that extra mile; it can determine whether a student gets a life-changing scholarship, or whether a new startup company is established in the Negev and generates new jobs and wealth in our region. It allows us to provide our researchers with the state-of-the-art facilities that enable them to do the remarkable; and to dare approach the arts and sciences from unconventional perspectives. Over the past few years, we have expanded our global community through the dedicated efforts of our old and new associates organizations around the world, and the tireless work in support of those associates by the Public Affairs and Resource Development Division, led by Jeff Kaye. Mostly though, we have expanded our global community by infecting you, our supporters and friends, with the joy and satisfaction that comes from boundless exploration. When you join your enthusiasm with ours, we benefit from your ideas, initiatives, knowledge, and experiences. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your support, but especially for your friendship. You inspire us, and I hope we inspire you in turn.

05 MESSAGE Toni Young Chair of the Global Development Committee


FEATURE Israel’s Global Pioneers The Halutz Global Leadership Initiative

10 For the Negev, From the World News from our worldwide friends and associates

Prof. Daniel Chamovitz, President

Every effort has been made to ensure that the information presented here is accurate and comprehensive.


27 SPOTLIGHT Powered by People Farewell to David Bareket 28 Zooming Out Webinars that brought BGU to the world


SPOTLIGHT Science for a Food-Secure World Michael Mirilashvili founds a center for food security in the desert


SPOTLIGHT Building Bridges Across Deserts BGU signs research agreements with Moroccan universities

FEATURE Discovering the Marcuses A new documentary about the remarkable BGU donors


33 Notable Contributions 36 BGUAssociates Organizations 38 InMemoriam

22 South Shall We Go Notable visitors to BGU this year


FEATURE Modern Day Ben-Gurions The 2021 Ben-Gurion Awards and more


Our ability to implement the strategic plan will rely in large part on the efforts of our Global Development Committee headed by Toni Young, former President of A4BGU and devoted friend of the University. The committee will define BGU’s fundraising goals, formulate the global resource development plan which will guide our fundraising efforts for the next decade, and strengthen collaboration between the University’s associates organizations to achieve these goals. The University’s success in this undertaking will rely on the commitment of friends like you, as well as the leadership of our associates organizations. To expand our global community and strengthen it for the years to come, we launched the Halutz Initiative for Global Leadership, an innovative BGU program for a new generation of pioneers (halutzim) in Israel. Participants grapple with today’s global challenges and explore how they can be part of the necessary solutions; in this framework, BGU and the Negev serve as a platform for engagement, discussion, and understanding. You can learn more about this program and the impressive inaugural cohort of 13 Halutz leaders who hail from Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Chile, France, the United Kingdom, Israel, Italy, Mexico, Singapore, and South Africa in this issue. As you can see, it’s an amazing time to be part of BGU. We are developing the new North Campus, a tremendous resource that will enable the University’s future growth, and we’re putting all the pieces in place to realize BGU’s full potential. The University is in the midst of an exciting transition – moving from being a player on the Israeli scene to becoming a leader on the global stage, and we’re thrilled that you’re a part of it. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Jill Ben Dor for her many years of dedication and service to the University. Jill, head of the Department of Resource Development, will be embarking on a new chapter later this year, but will remain a valuable and cherished member of the BGU family. I hope you enjoy this issue of BGU & You. I’d love to hear from you and learn more about your interests and connection to the University. Please feel free to reach out to me at to share your thoughts or to learn more about BGU.

Dear friends,

It is my great pleasure to present BGU & You , Ben Gurion University of the Negev’s newest publication. This magazine, which will be produced annually, applauds you – our global community of supporters. Exciting things are happening – here in Israel at BGU and around the world , at events sponsored by our network of associates organizations – and we want you to know all about them! Each issue of BGU & You will be filled with news to keep you abreast of the wonderful things BGU is able to accomplish with donor support. You’ll also hear about the activities of our worldwide associates organizations and the impact you and your fellow donors have made. The magazine will also provide an opportunity to reconnect with BGU and your friends here. Our pride in the University is infectious, and I know that as you peruse BGU & You, you’ll share our delight in the fine institution we are building together. We are inspired by BGU President Prof. Daniel Chamovitz, a leader with a mission and a strategic plan for achieving it. Since coming aboard, he has focused his efforts on advancing the University and enabling it to realize its full potential as a catalyst for change in the Negev and around the world. He led the formulation of the BGU Beyond 50 strategic plan, which will guide the University’s development in the coming years. The plan states our goal: “to become one of the world’s most outstanding universities and Israel’s leading university in terms of research, teaching, and contribution to society” and the means of achieving it: “the recruitment of outstanding researchers to the University, while nurturing and retaining them and our existing faculty members.”

Jeff Kaye Vice President for Public Affairs and Resource Development


I serve as Chair of the Committee at the request of the Chairman of the Board of Governors, Lloyd Goldman, and in that capacity, I work closely with the very talented Jeff Kaye, Vice President for Public Affairs and Resource Development. All of us on the Committee share the belief that we can learn from each other, inspire one another, and develop innovative strategies by working together and incorporating views and experiences from each country into our global strategy. Together we are greater than the sum of our parts. Members of the Global Development Committee quickly identified the need to develop a cadre of new leaders for the national associates organizations. So, we created the Halutz Initiative for Global Leadership, inspired by the very successful Zin Fellows Leadership Program in the United States. You can read more in this issue about the initiative and the extraordinary educational week the group spent together in Beer-Sheva in March 2022. Please look for news about other initiatives of the Global Development Committee in future issues. I believe Ben-Gurion University is transforming the Negev, and its research and inventions are improving Israel and the world. Your gifts and your hard work enable us to realize this potential and make our dreams a reality. I hope BGU & You inspires you to become even more involved. Thank you for your support. For additional information, please reach out to your local association (contact information about our global associates organizations can be found at the end of this magazine), or better yet, visit BGU and experience its magic for yourself.

Dear friends,

As Chair of the Global Development Committee, I am pleased to welcome you to the inaugural issue of BGU & You, a new publication devoted to YOU, our global Ben-Gurion University family. BGU & You will keep you informed about the important work being done by our BGU associations throughout the world, as well as by the new Global Development Committee, to raise awareness and support for our University. BGU & You will inspire you with news about BGU’s growing stature as one of the world’s finest universities, its excellence in research and teaching, and its commitment to developing Beer-Sheva and the Negev. President Daniel Chamovitz’s energy and vision are driving this progress: Construction on the new North Campus is well underway, as is the nearby IDF digital C4i campus. Both promise to increase student enrollment and BGU’s research capacity. The Global Development Committee was formed in the spring of 2020 with the intention of bringing together the top lay leaders and professionals in every country that has an organized group supporting BGU. Today our committee includes members from Argentina, Belgium, Canada, England, France, Israel, Italy, Mexico, Switzerland, South Africa and the United States.

Toni Young Chair, Global Development Committee


ISRAEL’S Global Pioneers The Halutz Initiative for Global Leadership empowers an elite community to carry forward the vision of David Ben-Gurion. Photos: Dani Machlis

on articulating their goals and beliefs, not explaining their products, values, or benefits. They understood, he argues, that to be a great leader, you need to communicate a vision of the future. Like, for instance, Israel’s desert in bloom.

In his famous TED talk “Start with Why,” the inspirational speaker Simon Sinek explains the particular genius of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose ideas, he points out, weren’t all that different from those of other civil rights activists at the time.

“What he gave at the Mall in Washington that day was his ‘I have a dream’ speech,” he says. “It was not, ‘I have a plan.’” To Sinek’s way of thinking, the most successful leaders and organizations, from Apple to the Wright Brothers to Winston Churchill, focused


Halutz Initiative fellows hear from Dr. Adi Portughies of the Ben-Gurion Archive at Sde Boker

The Halutz initiative’s first cohort boasts 13 fellows from 12 different countries David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s national founder and first prime minister, would undoubtedly make Sinek’s shortlist of visionaries. His insistence that the Negev holds the key to Israel’s economic strength and security spurred the pioneering development of the country’s southern region, in which Ben Gurion University of the Negev plays a key role. Now, with the establishment of the Halutz (“Pioneer”) Global Leadership Initiative, an elite community dedicated to Ben-Gurion’s ambitious vision

are learning how they, too, can turn their passions into practical solutions—for BGU, for the Negev, for Israel, and for the world. An incubator for a new generation of powerful proponents of Israel’s potential to help solve the world’s most pressing problems, the Halutz Initiative “is a unique opportunity for bold, big picture supporters of Israel to learn about the true complexity of the issues that concern them most, and to see how BGU can be a vehicle for transformative change,” says Jeff Kaye, BGU’s Vice President for Public Affairs and Resource Development. “The University sees Halutz as a strategic investment in

Members of Kibbutz Nirim in the Negev on the way to work, 1947. Photo: Kluger Zoltan, National Photograph Collection


Both meetings were just the prelude, however, to the program’s week-long seminar in Israel, organized by Jill Ben-Dor, head of the Department of Resource Development, and held inMarch of this year. The Halutz fellows spent time in Beer-Sheva, Sde Boker and Jerusalem, getting an intensive crash course in local, national, and global issues.

exceptional individuals whose intellectual curiosity is matched by their commitment, both to Israel and to social and environmental change.” He adds that the initiative both mirrors and complements the immersive Zin Fellows Leadership Program for outstanding communal leaders, directed by Americans for Ben-Gurion University (A4BGU). The Halutz Initiative’s first cohort boasts 13 fellows from 12 different countries. Featuring CEOs, investors, consultants, and entrepreneurs, many Halutz fellows hold leadership or board positions at Jewish organizations, and almost all are deeply interested in Israeli innovation and sustainability. Several have siblings who live in the country or themselves spent extensive periods here.

The Initiative’s first meeting, held virtually in November 2021, included introductory remarks by BGUGlobal Development Committee Chair Toni Young, a key partner in the founding of Halutz, and a moderated discussion with political scientist Prof. Sharon Pardo on the meaning and possibilities of global leadership. At their second virtual meeting, in February, they met BGU President Daniel Chamovitz and heard from BGU researchers involved in fields of particular concern.

First cohort of the Halutz Program on their visit to the Marcus Family Campus

The driving force behind Halutz is David Ben-Gurion’s belief, borne out by BGU these last fifty years, that the Negev can be an engine for Israel, and ultimately for the world.


Halutz fellows crossing the Jim and Liz Breslauer Bridge on their way to visit the BGU Faculty

of Health Sciences

No less important, they gained a deeper understanding of the Negev region through visits to the Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research - one of the world’s leading institutes for water research and research on drylands agriculture and sustainability, the Ben-Gurion Archives, and Ben-Gurion’s gravesite at Sde Boker. Sacerdoti summed up his experience: “It’s fascinating how so many interesting developments, scientific and otherwise, are coming out of Israel and specifically out of the Negev. Israel must make a success in the desert and here you are doing just that.” Jeff Kaye explains: “Halutz fellows see an Israel that visitors can’t, and gain knowledge they can translate into influence in their home communities.”

In Jerusalem, they visited the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for a series of briefings, and met with the Minister for Environmental Protection Tamar Zandberg. In Beer-Sheva, they toured labs on the Marcus Family Campus, met with researchers from multiple disiciplines and faculties and learned about the University’s innovation ecosystem and its commitment to the Negev and its residents. “This was a unique opportunity to meet people at the top of their fields, not just here in Israel, but across the world, doing groundbreaking research and to see the amazing facilities set up for that research,” said Halutz fellow Jonathan Sacerdoti of the UK. The fellows even visited the Israeli Air Force’s flight academy at the Hatzerim airbase.

“The driving force behind Halutz is David Ben-Gurion’s belief, borne out by BGU these last fifty years, that the Negev can be an engine for Israel, and ultimately for the world. By inspiring others to share that belief,” says Kaye, “Halutz fellows will be the pioneers that Israel needs now.” For questions about the Halutz Initiative for Global Leadership or to express interest in participating in a future cohort, please contact your local BGU association.


For the NEGEV, From the WORLD SPRING USA A4BGU Rallies Americans Around a Remarkable Vision for Israel In April 2021, A4BGU’s more than 60 nationwide chapters participated in “Celebrating the Remarkable,” its largest virtual event to date. Hosted by the Israeli actress, producer, and Zionist activist Noa Tishby, the ceremony featured guest lecturer Dr. Ruth Westheimer, the recipient of a BGU honorary degree, and honored A4BGU immediate past president Toni Young and former Southwest Director Philip Gomperts. USA Behind the Scenes of Ben-Gurion, Epilogue A4BGU’s Portland, Oregon chapter and Israel 360 hosted a virtual screening in May of the award winning documentary Ben-Gurion, Epilogue , followed by a discussion with director Yariv Mozer and moderated by A4BGU CEO Doug Seserman and Rabbi David Kosak of Portland’s Congregation Neve Shalom. Support for the event was provided by the Jewish Federation

From the 1968 interview with David Ben Gurion by David Marks

of Greater Portland, the Mittleman JCC, the Consulate General of Israel to the Pacific Northwest, Jewish Life in Oregon, t he Harold Schnitzer Family Program in Judaic Studies at Portland State University, and the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education.

Noa Tishby hosted A4BGU’s “Celebrating the Remarkable” virtual campaign launch


SWITZERLAND BGU Leadership Heads to Lake Geneva In June, Swiss Friends of BGU hosted President Prof. Daniel Chamovitz and Vice President for Public Affairs and Resource Development Jeff Kaye for meetings with friends and potential donors in Geneva and Lausanne.


ISRAEL Writers’ House in Honor of Amoz Oz Inaugurated In June, a new culture and outreach center for Heksherim: The Research Institute for Jewish and Israeli Literature and Culture was unveiled - the Writers’ House in Honor of Amoz Oz in Beer-Sheva’s old city. The event was attended by BGU president Prof. Daniel Chamovitz, past BGU presidents Prof. Avishay Braverman and Prof. Rivka Carmi, A4BGU immediate past president Toni Young, Beer Sheva Mayor Ruvik Danilovich, the novelist Haim Be’er, members of the novelist Amoz Oz’s family, the Huberman family, and Prof. Haim Weiss, head of BGU’s Department of Hebrew Literature.

ISRAEL BGU Celebrates Student Scholarships In June, the annual BGU Scholarship Appreciation Event held at the Marcus Family Campus in Beer-Sheva brought together Israeli donors and their student recipients to recognize the role of financial support in fulfilling academic dreams.

L-R: Mayor Ruvik Danilovich, Mifal

HaPais representative Avi Debby, Director of the Heksherim Institute Prof. Yigal Schwartz, Toni Young, and President Chamovitz. Photo: Yosi Bar

BGU Rector Prof. Chaim Hames with scholarship donors and recipients. Photo: Yosi Bar

BGU President Prof. Daniel Chamovitz with Robert Equey in Geneva. Photo: Jeff Kaye


CANADA An ‘Unorthodox’ National Virtual Gala for Brain Research

BGU Canada threw an “‘Unorthodox’ National

Virtual Gala to advance brain research” last July. Hosted by Canadian senator Linda Frum, the event was headlined by Israeli actress Shira Haas, star of the award-winning Netflix series Shtisel and Unorthodox. BGU Canada National President Mitchell Oelbaum and event co-chairs Naomi Oelbaum and Tamara Fine also spoke live from a studio in Toronto, with event co-chairs Aaron Migie in Winnipeg, Gail Palevsky in Montreal, and Shula Klinger in Vancouver delivering remarks from their respective regions. Ottawa’s Natalie Stern and Susannah Dalfen and Adrian Cantwell of Vancouver served as additional co-chairs. Viewed by more than 1,000 people in hundreds of homes across the country, the event raised more than CA$ 850,000 for special research projects, undergraduate scholarships, graduate fellowships, conferences and workshops, advanced equipment, and more.

L-R: BGU Canada Executive Director Toronto Region Shimmy Wenner, BGU Canada President Mitchell Oelbaum, gala co-chairs Naomi Oelbaum and Tamara Fine, BGU Canada immediate past president Gary Fine, and event host and former Canadian senator Linda Frum. Photo: BGU Canada

BGU Canada President Mitchell Oelbaum and Naomi Oelbaum. Photo: Liora Kogan

CANADA Israel’s Consul General Shows Up for BGU New Consul General of Israel to Toronto and Western Canada Idit Shamir was the featured speaker at the BGU Canada Board Meeting in August hosted by National President Mitchell Oelbaum and his wife, board member Naomi Oelbaum, in their Toronto home.


Dr. Barbara Seletsky (left) and Dr. Marcia Halpern. Photo: A4BGU

A4BGU CEO Doug Seserman and Sherrie Savett. Photo: A4BGU

USA Philadelphia Kicks Off the “Beacon of Light” Tribute In August, Sherrie Savett and Barbara Seletsky co-hosted a kick-off for November’s “Beacon of Light in the Negev” tribute brunch. Held in Savett’s Philadelphia home, the event featured Rose Bayer, alumna of BGU’s Medical School for International Health, and A4BGU CEO Doug Seserman. USA President Chamovitz Talks Innovation in Aspen At July’s “Igniting Israeli Innovation,” hosted by the Chabad Jewish Community Center of Aspen, Colorado, participants heard BGU President Prof. Daniel Chamovitz and A4BGU CEO Doug Seserman explain how BGU has become a national and international trailblazer in high-tech, medical research, and sustainability and climate change.

USA A4BGU South Florida Gains New Co-Chairs Edward and Marilyn Kaplan of Boca Raton were introduced as the new co-chairs of A4BGU’s Florida chapter at a virtual launch event in August.

President Prof. Daniel Chamovitz speaks in Aspen. Photo: A4BGU


Science for a Food-Secure World

L-R: BGU Rep. Alona Kushnir, VP & Director-General David Bareket; Watergen Co-CEO Michael Rutman; Rector Prof. Chaim Hames; Laura Mirilashvili; Michael Mirilashvili; President Chamovitz; UAE minister Mariam bint Mohammaed Saeed Hareb Almheiri, and Ambassador Mohamed Al Khaja. Photo: Dani Machlis

ISRAEL With the establishment of a first-of-its-kind School of Sustainability and Climate Change in March 2021, BGU sought to leverage the University’s unique expertise on living and thriving in the desert into scalable solutions for the world’s environmental crises. When, a few months later, the Israeli-Georgian businessman and philanthropist Michael Mirilashvili decided to support a center for food security research and development at the University, he took a decisive step toward moving the needle forward. Dedicated to meeting the challenge of water scarcity through innovative technologies, the center offers new hope for the two billion people around the globe who live in deserts and drylands. Named for Mirilashvili’s father, the Moshe Mirilashvili Center for Food Security in the Desert is a partnership of BGU with Mirilashvili’s agricultural-technology company Vertical Field and water-from-air technology company Watergen. The Mirilashvili Center will also collaborate with academic and industry partners in the United Arab Emirates, which

has made significant advances in solar-powered desalination in recent years. The Center will be located at the University’s Sde Boker campus, home to the Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, and its development guided by world-renowned food security expert and BGU President Prof. Daniel Chamovitz. The Center’s official launch on July 14, 2021 at BGU was attended by Michael Mirilashvili, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment H.E. Mariam bint Mohammaed Saeed Hareb Almheiri, and UAE Ambassador to Israel H.E. Mohamed Al Khaja, among others. “We need to take action because people are suffering now. They cannot wait decades for long-range plans,” said Michael Mirilashvili about the need for a collaborative center for research on food security. “What we are doing here will be an example for the region .”


USA A4BGU Wonders Who are the Marcuses? More than 50 A4BGU board members participated in the two-day virtual board meeting in October. The meeting featured a talk with the director and producer of Who Are the Marcuses? , the new documentary about late BGU supporters Howard and Lottie Marcus. The meeting also featured Dr. Becka Alper of the Pew Research Center. USA A New Tri-State Chapter Begins BGU alumna Maria Blekher was introduced in October as the founding chair of A4BGU’s new Tri-State Chapter in New York. USA Paying Tribute to BGU’s Delaware Valley Partners In November, A4BGU’s Philadelphia and Delaware chapters turned out for an in-person “Beacon of Light in the Negev” tribute brunch honoring Dr. Carolyn Glazer- Hockstein, Dr. Neil Hockstein, Dr. Marcia Halpern, and Jay Leistner. The event, which was also streamed live, featured Seth M. Siegel, author of the award-winning Let There Be Water: Israel’s Solution for a Water-Starved World , and special guests A4BGU President Gary DeBode and CEO Doug Seserman.

Co-founder of French Friends of BGU Danièle Bidermann (left) and current FFBGU President Marie Hélène Bérard. Photo: Dana Liram-Klibanov


FRANCE French Friends Bid Farewell to Former President French Friends of Ben-Gurion University held an event in memory of its former president, the late Gérard Worms, on the balcony of Publicis on the Champs-Élysées in September. A parallel event was held at the French Associates Institute for Agriculture and Biotechnology of Drylands in Sde Boker, where a tribute plaque in Worms’ memory was unveiled at the Institute’s main entrance hall.

USA The Bay Area Appoints a New Chair A virtual event was held in honor of A4BGU board member Marci Dollinger, newly appointed chair of the Bay Area chapter, in September.

Unveiling of the plaque honoring Gérard Worms, z”l at Sde Boker


FRANCE Raising Awareness of BGU’s Work for Disadvantaged Groups French Friends President Marie-Hélène Bérard hosted an in-person event at her home in November to spread awareness of BGU and its work on behalf of disadvantaged populations in the Negev. The event—which was also streamed live—was co-hosted with ACPRO, a grassroots hasbara organization.

CANADA BGU Canada Offers Toronto Old-School Fun Under the Stars The Toronto chapter of BGU Canada welcomed more than 250 participants to its second “Under the Stars” drive-in event in October for a screening of the films Asia and Broken Mirror , both of which star acclaimed Israeli actress and BGU Canada fundraising event guest Shira Haas. The event included welcoming remarks by the Deputy Consul General of Israel in Toronto, Shani Azulai.

Belgian BGU Bridge co-President Philippe Mauchard with BGU students. Photo: Courtesy

BELGIUM New Belgian Friends Association Launched In October, Philippe and Valentine Mauchard, co-Presidents of Belgian BGU Bridge, hosted BGU alumni and friends for a kickoff of the new asssociates organization in Belgium. Philippe visited BGU’s campus several times throughout the year, where he met participants in the Gateway to Academia program, supported by the organization. The program prepares Bedouin students for academic studies and supports them throughout their degree at BGU.

L-R: Shimmy Wenner, Executive Director, BGU Canada Toronto Region; Andrea Siegel, board member, BGU Canada Toronto Region; Shani Azulai, Deputy Consul General of Israel in Toronto; Eric Beutel, president, BGU Canada Toronto Region; Corrine Bassett-Broder, BGU Canada board member and event chair. Photo: Liora Kogan

Under the Stars drive in fundraiser in Toronto. Photo: BGU Canada


CANADA Manitoba Launches an Endowment Fund for Need Based Aid BGU Canada in Manitoba launched the Sheldon and Florence Zamick Family Scholarship Fund campaign in October in honor of former Winnipeg Chapter President Sheldon Zamick. The resulting endowment fund, held by the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba, will provide an annual, needs-based scholarship in perpetuity. SWITZERLAND BGU Scholar Headlines Swiss Limmud Lionel Halpérin, President of Swiss Friends of BGU, hosted Prof. Guy Ben-Porat, Chair of the Department of Politics and Government, who spoke at the November Jewish-study event Swiss Limmud.

FRANCE Playing Chess for a Cause

BGU student Jonathan Hazan, first-place winner

The French Friends of BGU organized an international online chess tournament in November to raise money for scholarships. BGU student Jonathan Hazan won first prize from among more than 100 participants.

of the French Friends chess tournament. Photo: Shay Shmueli

Past Winnipeg Chapter President, Sheldon Zamick. Photo: Manuel Sousa


SWITZERLAND Swiss Friends Make New Friends In November, Swiss Friends of BGU attended the annual gala of i24 News, with which it recently established a communications partnership. The gala featured a speech by i24 News CEO Frank Melloul.

USA Houston Gets Together in Honor of BGU A4BGU regional board

L-R, standing: Claire Winick, A4BGU CEO Doug Seserman, Mid-Atlantic Chairs Connie Katz and Sam Katz, author Seth M. Siegel, Tribute Chair David Cutler, A4BGU President Gary DeBode, Reiko Kayne , and Delaware Chapter Chair Dr. Barry Kayne; seated: Delaware Chapter honorees Dr. Neil Hockstein and Dr. Carolyn Glazer-Hockstein, Philadelphia Chapter Honorees Dr. Marcia Halpern and Jay Leistner. Photo: A4BGU

ISRAEL Marking Three Decades of Russian-Israeli Relations BGU hosted a Russian speaking conference in November in honor of three decades of diplomatic relations between Russia and Israel. The event was attended by leading Israelis from the former Soviet Union, scholars and diplomats. members Elizabeth and David Grzebinski hosted more than 40 members of the Houston Chapter for a November dinner and talk by A4BGU CEO Doug Seserman.

Frank Melloul, CEO of i24 News speaks in Geneva. Photo: Courtesy


Building Bridges Across Deserts

When Israel and Morocco announced the formalization of ties in December 2020, BGU recognized a historic opportunity to promote academic and technological cooperation for the benefit of the entire region. And indeed, just eight months later, it signed its first agreement for collaborative research with a Moroccan university. Supported by the Israeli multinational chemical manufacturing company ICL and the Moroccan state-owned phosphate rock miner OCP, the agreement with Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (UM6P) near Marrakech covers numerous fields related to sustainability and climate change, including ecological restoration, water, and energy. Noting that BGU and UM6P have much in common, from “their desert settings to their focus on applied research,” BGU President Prof. Daniel Chamovitz stated that “both universities are committed to thriving in their own environments, and to looking outward – helping our countries, regions, and the world.” Mohammed VI Polytechnic University President Hicham El Habti said: “We are confident that linking science and technology institutions from both countries will have a major impact on people at a local and regional level.” Just one month later, BGU signed another memorandum of understanding, this time with the International University of Rabat, intended to foster joint study, teaching,

ICL, OCP, BGU and UM6P sign a historic collaboration agreement in October. Photo: Lina Elmouaaouy

and student and staff exchange in the natural, social, and health sciences, as well as the humanities. Titled “People of the MENA Region” – MENA for “Middle East and North Africa” – the agreement was kicked off with a joint workshop on water, agriculture, and sustainability issues from both technological and biological perspectives. The two universities also plan to collaborate on research on the cultural heritage of Moroccan Jews, as well as the shared history and destiny of Muslims and Jews in the Middle East.



CANADA Montreal Toasts Outgoing President The Montreal chapter of BGU Canada hosted a cocktail reception at Congregation Shaar Hashomayim in December to thank outgoing

Author and BGU professor Etgar Keret. Photo: Dani Machlis

chapter President Jack Altman and welcome new President Peggi Cohen Rabinovitch. Guest speaker Paul Hirschson, the new consul general for Israel to Quebec, spoke about the Abraham Accords to an audience that included Senator Tony Loffreda.

CANADA BGU Canada Launches Online Conversation with Israeli Authors In January, Toronto BGU Canada board members Naomi Oelbaum and Deborah Siegel, and Executive Director Shimmy Wenner, launched “In Conversation with Israeli Authors,” a Canada-wide virtual literary series featuring books by Israeli authors and past and present BGU lecturers, including Etgar Keret, Ayelet Gundar Goshen, Ayelet Tsabari, and Eshkol Nevo. Supported by Indigo Books and Music Inc., all series proceeds were donated to BGU’s Department of Hebrew Literature.

Montreal Chapter outgoing and incoming presidents, Jack Altman (right) and Peggi Cohen Rabinovitch. Photo: BGU Canada


The GGFBM student team to the JMSB Case Competition. Photo: Courtesy

MEXICO BGU Invited to Mexican Parliament Jacobo Mekler Waisburd, president of the Mexican associates and BGU Representative Alejandro Grinberg were invited to visit the Mexican General Congress on Mexico’s flag day. The two spoke about BGU at the parliamentary committee on education and attended the plenum.

CANADA Montreal Supports BGU’s JMSB Case Champions BGU Canada Montreal chapter launched a fundraising campaign in January to support the Guilford Glazer Faculty of Business and Management student participants in the prestigious John Molson School of Business International MBA Case Competition. BGU’s team won three out of five cases.

(L-R): Jacobo Mekler Waisburd, congressman Cesar Augusto Rendon García, and Alejandro Grinberg


SOUTH Shall We G Notable visitors to BGU this year

“Increasing the number of students studying engineering is the key to maintaining the competitiveness of Israeli hi-tech, advancing Israel’s national security, and reducing the gaps in israeli society.” — Bezhalel Machlis, President and CEO of Elbit Systems

Dr. Andre Gasiorowski with President Chamovitz. Photo: Dani Machlis

Outgoing Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on a last visit to Sde Boker with BIDR Director Prof. Noam Weisbrod. Photo: Shlomi Znati

Presidents of Israel and Germany Tour Technologies at Sde Boker Former President of Israel Reuven Rivlin and President of Germany Frank Walter Steinmeier visited the Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research in Sde Boker in July to hear about BGU’s research in the areas of desertification, sustainability, and climate change.


Campus visit by Elbit Systems senior management. Photo: Dani Machlis

Electra, BGU on the Effects of Extreme Heat on Health BGU hosted the world’s first conference on climate change and public health in September, aimed at increasing awareness of the implications of global warming for national health and emergency systems. The conference, which included opening remarks by Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz was also attended by CEO of Electra Consumer Products Zvika Schwimmer. Elbit, BGU Partnerships Accelerate Defense Technologies Elbit Systems President and CEO Bezhalel Machlis and his colleagues came to BGU in December for a guided tour by Israeli BGU Board Member Rony Hizkiyahu. A4BGU Board Member Brings ESRA to Campus Vice President of A4BGU Joel Reinstein welcomed a group of South African and Canadian members of ESRA, Israel’s largest English-speaking community network, to BGU in November for a talk on the personal meaning of the University and a guided campus tour.

All in the Family Elie and Laurence Ohayon of Switzerland toured the Marcus Family Campus in March and visited the Abraham Ben David Ohayon Behavioral Sciences Complex named for their late father. Israeli-Polish Entrepreneur Gets to Know BGU Dr. Andre Gasiorowski, an Israeli-Polish entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist and the CEO and President of Network Intelligence, visited BGU in February to learn more about its efforts to create a more compassionate, inclusive and just society.

Laurence and Elie Ohayon. Photo: Shay Shmueli


Modern Day Ben-Gurions

The 2021 Ben Gurion Award recipients. Photo: Shay Shmueli

“Anything is possible when we take bold action to forge a new reality.”

founder by recognizing, on Israel’s national day of remembrance for David Ben Gurion, individuals who have advanced his legacy. Together, the recipients confirm Ben-Gurion’s guiding belief that “the only greatness we can expect…is the greatness of spirit, of science, [and of] learning about nature and the human condition.”

The 2021 Ben-Gurion Day at BGU was an opportunity to honor individuals and organizations who embody the national founder’s legacy. When BGU inaugurated the Ben-Gurion Awards in 2019, it sought to commemorate the life and vision of Israel’s national


(res.) Amos Yadlin, former head of IDF Military Intelligence and decorated fighter pilot; and the Beer-Sheva Theater, a key cultural institution serving Negev residents for 50 years. Addressing BGU at the ceremony, President Herzog described the University as “the manifestation of David Ben Gurion’s entire being – his vision and his actions: Zionism, knowledge, research, social action, and the Negev.” Then, turning to the award recipients, he concluded, “If there is the full fulfillment of first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion’s forward thinking, ambitious vision – it is embodied in your actions.”

The Awards honored ten individuals or organizations from across sectors, ethnicities, and cultures in the presence of guest of honor, President of Israel Isaac Herzog, in his first official visit to BGU. The honorees were Dr. Efrat Bron-Harlev, CEO of Schneider Children’s Medical Center; Adv. Mina Kalman Haddad, member of the Beer-Sheva city council and founder of its Department of Volunteerism; Reda Masarwa, the first Arab vice president of Intel Corporation; Yosef Mizrahi, professor emeritus of BGU’s Department of Life Sciences and trailblazer in Israeli agriculture; Shuli Moalem-Refaeli, a former MK and advocate for IDF widows and orphans; Prof. Bracha Rager, former chief scientist at Israel’s Health Ministry and co-founder of BGU’s Faculty of Health Sciences; Dr. Ron Sabar, founder of Israel’s largest home hospital service and the largest physician based home hospital service in the world; Gabriel Tamman, z”l, an Egyptian-born Swiss philanthropist; Maj. Gen.

President Herzog described the University as “the manifestation of David Ben-Gurion’s entire being – his vision and his actions: Zionism, knowledge,

research, social action, and the Negev.”

Yet, as President Prof. Daniel Chamovitz noted at this year’s conferment ceremony, they confirm something else as well: “Anything is possible when we take bold action to forge a new reality.” The 2021 Ben-Gurion Awards, granted on BGU’s Marcus Family Campus on November 11, were preceded by the national memorial ceremony at Ben-Gurion’s grave in Sde Boker.

President of Israel Isaac Herzog was a guest of honor at the Ben Gurion Award Ceremony. Photo: Shay Shmueli


The Tamman family of Geneva at the Gabriel and Angel Tamman Gate. Photo: Shay Shmueli

youth movement that helped Jews flee to Israel saved thousands of his fellow Egyptian Jews’ lives, but it also led to his arrest and imprisonment, almost costing him his life. These travails, said Tamman’s son David, might have hardened another man, but in the case of Tamman, they only made him more compassionate – and more determined to help build the State of Israel. And help he did: The global property developer who spent most of his adult life in Switzerland supported both medical and educational institutions throughout Israel, including Ben-Gurion University.

Earlier the same day, BGU unveiled the renovated and renamed Gabriel and Angel Tamman Gate at a moving ceremony attended by members of the Tamman family from around the world. “As one of the largest centers of education in Israel, [Ben Gurion University] really carves out the future of the State,” said David Tamman. “That’s how my father saw it, and he would have been so proud to be part of that.” As a teenager growing up in Cairo, Gabriel Tamman (1932 2021) witnessed firsthand the violent dissolution of Egypt’s once thriving Jewish population. His work for an underground

In recognition of his valued partnership with BGU, as well as the role he played in helping save thousands of Egyptian Jews, Tamman was honored posthumously with the 2021 Ben-Gurion Award.

Photo: Shay Shmueli


A Leader Powered by People for the People Farewell to David Bareket

Photos: Dani Machlis

Later this summer we bid farewell to our long-serving Vice President and Director-General, David Bareket, who has led from behind the scenes during his more than 30-year career at the University. When David Bareket joined the staff of BGU as a comptroller in 1989, the University had just experienced its worst financial crisis ever. Thirty odd years later, student enrollment has tripled, our campuses have grown exponentially with countless state-of-the-art buildings and facilities, and BGU is the most financially secure institution of higher education in the country, thanks in no small part to his careful stewardship. Upon retiring, Bareket is leaving the University well prepared to further expand its vision and scope: “I hope the stability of the last three decades continues,” he said. “Our responsible fiscal policy and financial stability facilitate trust and make possible ambitious projects like building the North Campus. We have the resources thanks to the generosity of our donors, and we owe it to them to be responsible with their money.”

To read more about the University’s history from David’s perspective, see the full article in the 2022 President’s Report


Z oomingOut

United Kingdom

United States

In March, head of Cyber@BGU Prof. Yuval Elovici spoke about cybersecurity in the financial sector as part of the “Insight & Impact” series. The event was moderated by David Klein of One Peak Partners and sponsored by the international law firm White & Case.

In June, Prof. Guy Ben-Porat , of BGU’s Dept. of Politics and Government, discussed the potential impact of Israel’s new unity government with A4BGU CEO Doug Seserman. In September, Prof. Nadav Davidovitch and Dr. Anat Rosenthal of the Dept. of Health Systems Management, spoke about “the Latest on COVID-19.”

In November, A4BGU members enjoyed a live virtual tour of David Ben-Gurion’s Sde Boker home in honor of Ben-Gurion Day.

In May, Argentinian Friends of BGU, together with Jewish organizations in Argentina and Mexico, hosted a webinar with BGU alum and SpaceIL founder Kfir Damari about the Beresheet mission.

In November, A4BGU members learned about BGU’s new School of Sustainability and Climate Change in a webinar with its head Prof. Yaron Ziv and researchers Prof. Sigal Abramovich and Prof. Osnat Gillor .

In August, the Argentinian Friends and the Latin American Jewish organization Hebraica conducted a live Zoom tour of Ben-Gurion’s hut.

In December, Prof. Nadav Davidovich spoke again, about “The Covid Omicron Variant.”



Webinars that brought BGU insights to friends around the world

In June, Prof. Andre Levy of BGU’s Dept. of Sociology & Anthropology spoke about the history of Jewish Aliya from Morocco. In January, Dr. Jessica Cauchard of BGU’s Dept. of Industrial Engineering and Management spoke about her research on human-drone interaction. In March, Michel Assayag , head of venture building at Yazamut 360°’s Oazis, spoke about connecting deep tech researchers with entrepreneurs.

Switzerland *




In May, Prof. Simon Barak and Prof. Aaron Fait of the Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research spoke about research for a sustainable world .


South Africa

In November, Prof. Alan Jotkowitz of the Medical School for International Health, spoke at an event hosted by the South Africa Israel Chamber of Commerce (SAICC) and organized by Jonathan Shapiro , CEO of LESCO and the SAICC and a Halutz fellow. Marc Lubner , SAABGU President, delivered opening remarks.

*The French language webinars were organized by the Swiss Friends of BGU, together with the French, Belgian and Canadian associates.


Dr. Howard and Lottie Marcus. Photo courtesy of Matthew Mishory

A new documentary film attempts to unravel the mystery behind the couple who made the largest charitable gift in BGU’s–and Israel’s– history. Discovering Marcuses the

In a moment of introspection during an interview for Who Are the Marcuses? a new documentary from Rubber Ring Films and Stone Canyon Entertainment, Warren Buffett says with a modest smile, “there’s a lot of chance in life.” To be sure, he was speaking primarily of his own remarkable route to vast wealth. Yet the

sentiment could easily be applied to Howard and Lottie Marcus, the early investors for whom he built an astonishing fortune, which they in turn bequeathed almost in full to Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. There was, for starters, the couple’s good luck to have escaped their native Germany just before


was coming in Germany, their early investment in Berkshire Hathaway, their awareness that climate change would make water the key to securing Israel’s future and its ability to improve the world – they always seemed to understand what other, supposedly more qualified people, didn’t. And now, their transformative gift to Ben-Gurion University will move the needle on an issue that politicians and decision makers have struggled to address, with little success.” For the Israeli-American Mishory, however, it is the couple’s approach to Israel – which they visited just once, in 2005, to attend the renaming of the BGU campus in their honor – that he found most moving personally. “Their daughter Ellen said that as a result of the Holocaust, her parents wanted to invest in the future of the Jewish people. And they recognized that the future of the Jewish people is the State of Israel.”

Most of all, however, Mishory sees in the Marcuses a rare yet consistent ability to think ahead of the crowd, sense the direction in which the world is headed, and act accordingly. Understanding that aspect of Howard and Lottie, he believes, makes the mysteries that drive

the Nazis’ grip on power made any hope of leaving too late. (In Howard’s case, both the luck and the escape were repeated a few years later, when he fled Italy for America just steps ahead of the fascist Italian Secret Service.) There was the fateful introduction to Buffet through a good friend of Lottie’s, the legendary “father of value investing,” Benjamin Graham. And there was the chance appearance, depicted in the film, of a guest speaker on water scarcity at their retirees’ global affairs discussion group in San Diego. That encounter, so goes the legend, would spark Howard and Lottie’s passionate interest in the ways that water research, and eventually water research of the kind carried out at BGU, could both help the State of Israel flourish and nurture peace in the Middle East. only accounts for part of the Marcuses’ extraordinary story – and to film director Matthew Mishory, a fairly small part at that. For the rest, he says, we’d need to look to the particular values that guided their life and worldview, such as their deep belief in living modestly, which made the news of their more than $400 million endowment for BGU come as such a profound surprise. He also points to the couple’s daughter Ellen – “the third lead in the film,” says Mishory, “and every bit the hero as her parents” – who counseled the Marcuses not to leave the bulk of their massive estate to her, but instead to use it to support something in which they believed. But of course, as was the case with Buffett, chance

Ellen counseled the Marcuses to use

the film’s narrative – Why have we never heard of Howard and Lottie Marcus? Why did they never publicly reveal their wealth, and why were they so captivated by the seemingly strange issue of water scarcity? – far less mysterious in the end. “Theirs is a once-in-a generation story that manages to intersect with many of the major milestones that defined the last century,” Mishory says. “Their recognition of what their massive estate to support something in which they believed.

The Marcus family with Prof. Avishay Braverman in 2005 on their first and only visit to BGU, at the campus bearing their name. Photo: Dani Machlis


Their desire to help build the State of Israel explains the Marcuses’ decision to leave their estate to an Israeli university. How that university became BGU – or, to be more precise, who was responsible for bringing BGU into the Marcuses’ life – makes for some of the most touching moments in the film. Philip Gomperts, the South African-born fundraiser for the American Associates of Ben-Gurion University (today A4BGU), could never have imagined, when a donor and neighbor of the Marcuses made the introduction, that he would end up stewarding the gift that would remake BGU. And indeed, he didn’t. As he says in the film, he simply became the Marcuses’ friend, coming to admire them as much as he delighted in their company. As Philip shared his belief in the transformative potential of BGU for Israel and the entire region, the Marcuses began to make a series of small gifts to the University. “They both realized the importance of building and developing Israel, and felt, as I do, that the future of Israel lies in developing the Negev,” Gomperts said. When Ellen encouraged her parents, then in their late nineties, to bequeath their fortune to a cause, it was only natural that it be the one that Philip had championed all those years. Indeed, as Ellen explains, Philip had become for Howard the son he never had,

Lottie and Howard Marcus with Philip Gomperts (center). Photo: Dani Machlis

They always seemed to understand what other, supposedly more qualified people didn’t.

and Howard a second father to Philip, whose own father died when he was in his 20s. When Howard passed away at age 104 in 2014, Philip said Kaddish for the full year of mourning. When the couple announced their intent to BGU a decade before their death, the amount of the gift was $200 million; by the time of the bequeathal, however, the amount had more than doubled. Prof. Rivka Carmi, who served as president of BGU during the Marcuses’ final years, notes in the film that once they had committed their money to the University, they no longer thought of it as theirs. If such selflessness seems only possible in the movies, the film provides plenty of evidence that everyone who truly knew the Marcuses was nonplussed. “It comes as no surprise that they elected to use their financial success to enhance the lives of thousands of Israeli young people,” Buffett says. Now, Mishory and producer Bradford L. Schlei hope that

“The Marcus story is an astounding combination of both the American dream and the Zionist vision,” says Ben Gurion University President Prof. Daniel Chamovitz. “This generous family has enabled David Ben-Gurion’s vision for the future of Israel, which he declared will ‘emerge from the Negev.’”

Who Are the Marcuses? will succeed in obtaining what Howard and Lottie never sought in their lifetimes, namely an awareness of their exceptional vision and character.

Ellen Marcus. Photo: Dani Machlis


Made with FlippingBook - professional solution for displaying marketing and sales documents online