Houston Community Celebrates BGU
April 15, 2018
Jewish Herald-Voice – Imagine a bridge: What’s its purpose? Think about the designers of that bridge, the materials that will be used, the aesthetics, its longevity.
Now, imagine that bridge in the middle of a desert, the Negev. These images are what were brought to life at American Associates, Ben-Gurion University’s Gourmet Kosher Extravaganza dinner on March 19 at the Royal Sonesta Hotel.
Ben-Gurion University was the realization of the vision of Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, who believed that the nascent country’s future lay in the desert, which comprises more than 60 percent of the country’s footprint. The University was established by government mandate in 1969. It is now home to 20,000 students – from around the world – with campuses in Beer-Sheva, Sede Boqer and Eilat.
The 17th annual dinner for the Greater Texas Region of AABGU featured exceptional cuisine from Houston chefs: Ben Berg (Carmelo’s and B&B Butchers), Mark Cox (Mark’s Culinary Consulting), Tommy Elbashary (B&B Butchers), Jason Goldstein (Genesis Steakhouse & Wine Bar), Robert Graham (Royal Sonesta Hotel) and Kiran Verma (Kiran’s). The perfect accompaniment was Dr. Daniel Gordis, award-winning author and columnist – a favorite of Houston Zionists – who was the keynote speaker.
“The Jewish state is the place that the Jewish people have returned and gathered to reimagine themselves. To declare an end to the era where Jews lived at the good will of someone else, in someone else’s country, hoping that things would stay good. It was to declare never again …
“What would happen if David Ben-Gurion hadn’t imagined to himself that if you could create a space in the middle of the desert, to which virtually tens of thousands of students would flock, what would they build, what would they create? Well, they would create one of the world’s greatest universities,” Gordis said. “And, they would create a university that creates technology that literally changes human life everywhere.”
Gordis also addressed the soul of BGU. What do BGU students do beyond going to class? They assist Holocaust survivors, help kids in impoverished neighborhoods and they reach out to Ethiopian children and help them integrate into Israeli society.
In the context of the Exodus, Gordis described how the Jews left slavery in order to find freedom and hope and, ultimately, to share that hope with people who do not have hope. “That’s what the early Zionists really believed that the Jewish state was going to do,” he said. “That has been part of the Israeli ethos from the very beginning and I’m not aware of anywhere in the Jewish state where that ethos actually has been brought to bear and brought to life and been given such three-dimensionality anywhere more than it has in Beer-Sheva because of Ben-Gurion University.
“The story of Ben-Gurion University is really the very best of the story of the State of Israel,” continued Gordis. “… That’s the story of the Jewish people reimagined. … that’s the story of Israel’s future.
“What happens on the campus of Ben-Gurion University is what is going to happen in the future of every square kilometer of the State of Israel. What you make happen in Beer-Sheva ultimately will transform the lives of Israelis through the country.”