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BGU-Negev Emergency Fund Launched

BGU-Negev Emergency Fund Launched

January 9, 2009

Negev Development & Community Programs, Press Releases

NEW YORK, January 9, 2009 – American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (AABGU) today launched the BGU-Negev Emergency Fund to address the growing crisis at the University and surrounding Beer-Sheva community due to the escalating Gaza conflict. 

“For the first time in 60 years, Beer-Sheva is in range of rockets fired from Gaza and has already been hit multiple times,” explains Carol Saal, AABGU president. “Classes at Ben-Gurion University have been canceled indefinitely, while schools, day care programs, clubs, and activities of all kinds are closed.  As the American support arm for a renowned institution of higher education, I never imagined that we would be in the business of emergency relief.”

The BGU-Negev Emergency Fund is urgently seeking to raise $10 million. BGU Board of Governors Chairman Roy Zuckerberg of New York and Carol Saal of Palo Alto, California are leading the effort. The Emergency Fund will support critical needs in campus safety and security; distance learning; counseling and psychological assistance; medical equipment; and community services, such as child care.

Professor Rivka Carmi, president of the University, explains that “after years of providing refuge to our distraught neighbors in the Western Negev, we at BGU are suddenly faced with an entirely new reality in which the safety and security of our own faculty, staff, students, and families are now foremost in our minds. We have committed ourselves to doing what must be done by increasing security, providing more social services and bringing long-distance and e-learning options on-line.”

BGU has already begun to augment the city’s alert system, ensuring that the warning siren is heard throughout every corner of BGU’s three Beer-Sheva campuses. Additional equipment is needed to fight fires and carry out possible rescue operations. Facilities need to be adapted to safeguard flammable and combustible materials in laboratories.

The Fund will also support the hiring and training of additional security personnel to manage the movement of people and equipment in the event of a direct missile strike. Psychological services for students are being dramatically expanded, as is the University’s capacity to support distance and e-learning opportunities.

Some 2,000 students from Ben-Gurion University have been recalled for military service. Despite the growing threat, many others, with just seconds to get to a shelter or safe room, have chosen to stay in Beer-Sheva, bringing comfort and support to the elderly, young children, disabled, and others in need.

They are delivering meals, manning hotlines, providing day care, and running programs for children in bomb shelters. And many of BGU’s medical experts and faculty are working around the clock at the University-affiliated Soroka hospital, the primary trauma center for both military and civilian casualties. 

“BGU is in crisis and the time to act is now,” Roy Zuckerberg said. “We look to our loyal and generous supporters, and to all who care about the safety of those living, working and studying in the Negev to join us in this time of need.”

For more information or to donate, go to BGU-Negev Emergency Fund or call 800-962-2248.

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. Activities include showcasing BGU’s academic excellence and cutting-edge research through educational programs, events and informative communications. AABGU’s main purpose is to support Ben-Gurion’s vision and the university that bears his name by creating a community of Americans committed to improving the world tomorrow from the heart of the Israeli desert today.

Media Contact:
Andrew Lavin
A. Lavin Communications