AABGU is creating a community of leaders committed to fulfilling David Ben-Gurion’s vision for Israel’s Negev region.

The AABGU Zin Fellows Leadership Program is an in-depth immersion into the issues involved in the continuing development of the Negev, Israel’s southern desert region.

Each cohort consists of 15 to 20 outstanding current and future community leaders from across the United States, in their 30s to 50s, who are interested in a new and unique opportunity to be engaged in the future of Israel through their connection to the Negev region.

The program is comprised of select webinar presentations and a week-long seminar in Israel. The program’s teachers are drawn from BGU’s faculty, as well as guest speakers, from a range of disciplines. By exploring the Negev’s history, topography, geography, demography and sustainability, fellows come to understand and appreciate the unique role the Negev plays in the unfolding development of the State of Israel.

Through study and group engagement, the program imparts insights into the challenges that lie ahead for the Negev and the knowledge for how to play a part in surmounting them.

The result will be a connected group of informed leaders who can return to their communities equipped with the tools and excitement to share about Israel and the Negev and inspire continued engagement with Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

See below for information about eligibility, applications, cost, and program dates.

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A view of the Zin Valley in the Negev that inspired the name of this program. Zin fellow Tracy Bell, of Dallas, in the Ben-Gurion Archives On a hike in the Negev with Zin Fellows Cohort I Learning about autonomous helicopters being developed at BGU’s Homeland Security Institute with Prof. Dan Blumberg A lecture about the ecology of Israel’s Machtesh Ramon with BGU professor and leading Israeli environmentalist Prof. Alon Tal Learning about the Negev at one of Zin’s U.S. gathering with Prof. Sakis Meir

Zin Fellows Paul Strug of Huston and Joanne Moore of Tel-Aviv

The Zin Fellows visiting the ruins of Avdat The conclusion of the third cohort overlooking the Zin Valley Fellows visiting the grave site of David Ben-Gurion Fellows learning about The Ramon Crater - the largest of the 7 erosion craters in the world Zin fellows hanging out with Pepper - a robot from the Physical Therapy Department at BGU Zin fellows; Barbara Baliff, Yuval Chiprut, Mytyl Simancas, Julie Savitch and Jeff Kupfer visiting Dr. Shelley Levy Tzedek's lab at BGU Zin fellows, Jill Max, Clare Sisisky and Jeff Kupfer visiting the Marcus Family Campus at BGU Zin fellows and AABGU supporters together at BGU Cohort III on campus at BGU Zin fellows, Yuval Chiprut and Jeff Polak, visiting Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Learning about David Ben-Gurion on the edge of the cliff overlooking the vast and magnificent Zin Valley The closing ceremony for Cohort III in front of David Ben-Gurion's grave, overlooking the wilderness of the Zin Valley

Eligibility and Applications

The men and women selected to participate as Zin fellows have demonstrated leadership abilities in their personal, professional and/or community lives. They are committed to Israel and its future, and are dedicated to the pursuit of a meaningful educational experience through the program.

Participation in the program is by application only. Nominations are coordinated through the AABGU regional offices.


The program is funded by American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev through the generosity of several sponsors. All domestic and international travel, lodging and program expenses are covered.

Participants are asked to make a minimum $5,000 contribution at the conclusion of the two-year program.

Cohort V Program Dates

Select Webinar Presentations
March 13 to 19, 2021 Seminar in Israel

For more information, contact your AABGU regional office.