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$2M Matching Fund for Israel Studies Fellowships

$2M Matching Fund for Israel Studies Fellowships

January 12, 2015

Israel Studies, Culture & Jewish Thought, Press Releases

Effort to Combat Worldwide Anti-Semitism Funded by Pennsylvania’s Woodman-Scheller Family

PHILADELPHIA, PA – January 13, 2015 — The Woodman-Scheller Graduate Fellowships in Israel Studies at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) was just launched in part to combat growing worldwide anti-Semitism. All gifts made in support of BGU’s Israel Studies International Program will be matched dollar for dollar up to $2 million.

The fund was established by American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (AABGU) Vice President Wayne Woodman, his wife, Lisa Scheller; and her parents, Ernie Scheller, Jr., also an AABGU vice president and a member of BGU’s board of directors, and his wife, Roberta Scheller, all Pennsylvania philanthropists and longstanding BGU supporters.

According to Wayne Woodman, “It is expected that graduates of this program will attain key political, diplomatic and academic positions related to Israel and the Middle East in their home countries. They will be armed with truths to combat malicious myths, essentially becoming ambassadors of Israel. Learning about Israel in its natural ‘laboratory’ is a most effective way to combat ignorance and misinformation.”

The Israel Studies International Program (ISIP) at Ben-Gurion University, taught under the auspices of the University’s Ben-Gurion Research Institute for the Study of Israel and Zionism, draws graduate students from around the world, Jews and non-Jews, to study the only successful democracy in the Middle East. Students from Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, China, Georgia, Germany, Korea, the United Kingdom, the United States, and even the West Bank aspire to become experts in Israel’s history, politics and society.

The Woodman-Scheller matching funds will facilitate many annual fellowships, dramatically increasing the number of students who enroll in the graduate program. ISIP is taught in English by faculty from the Ben-Gurion Institute, an interdisciplinary group of experts from a broad range of academic disciplines that includes history, sociology, politics, philosophy, cultural studies, and Middle Eastern studies.  

“Now is the time to invest in Israel studies and to recruit outstanding pupils from Africa, Asia and Europe, which requires a significant base of philanthropic support to provide fellowships for deserving students who might seek studies elsewhere without this opportunity,” explains Ernie Scheller, Jr. “Donors will also be helping to enhance academic research on the history of the Jewish people, while simultaneously enabling BGU to grow as Israel’s leading academic institution in the study of modern Jewish history in the Middle East.”

BGU is leading the way in studying and understanding the history of the modern Zionist movement, the creation of the State of Israel and its culture. The Ben-Gurion Research Institute on BGU’s Sede Boqer campus houses one of Israel’s most precious historical repositories and a national treasure: the David Ben-Gurion Archives. Adjacent to the Ben-Gurion gravesite and overlooking the biblical Zin Canyon, this campus is ideally located for inspirational study of Israel.

“The accounts of growing anti-Semitism throughout the world cannot be ignored,” adds Doron Krakow, executive vice president of AABGU. “BGU’s Israel studies program will not only help minimize the delegitimization of Israel, it will also make a tangible difference to helping the uninformed and misinformed comprehend Israel’s importance and role in the region. I am grateful to the Woodman-Scheller family for establishing this generous matching fund to create more ‘ambassadors’ for Israel.”

Read more about Israel studies at BGU>>

About American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (AABGU) plays a vital role in sustaining David Ben-Gurion’s vision: creating a world-class institution of education and research in the Israeli desert, nurturing the Negev community and sharing the University’s expertise locally and around the globe. As Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) celebrates its 50th birthday this year, AABGU imagines a future that goes beyond the walls of academia. It is a future where BGU invents a new world and inspires a vision for a stronger Israel and its next generation of leaders. Together with supporters, AABGU will help the University foster excellence in teaching, research and outreach to the communities of the Negev for the next 50 years and beyond.

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