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Jessica Feldan
Impacting tomorrow, today.

A $260 million gift helps launch Israel’s future

Why would an American Ivy League alum bequeath more than a quarter billion dollars to a university in a tiny land in a hostile neighborhood more than 5,600 miles from his own home?

When the entire world is questioning this tiny land’s existence, why are its Public Universities focusing on ensuring its future?

And why should you?

Sitting at the helm of the American Friends of Israel’s fastest growing university provides a unique perspective into the current state of higher education and how it influences—and is influenced by—world events.

This perspective is especially poignant when framed by an historic $260 million transformational gift.

Bar-Ilan University, with 21,000 diverse students on a 140-acre campus in the center of Israel, was given one of the largest bequests ever made to an Israeli institution. Announced last week by University President Professor Arie Zaban, the gift was made by a North American Jew and Columbia University graduate who served in World War II. This benefactor believed passionately in the power of scientific resilience to strengthen Israel and in the advancement of educational excellence to fortify Israeli society.

How will the gift be used? This donation will help power a significant investment in our Deep Tech infrastructure.

What is Deep Tech?  It includes sciences such as advanced artificial intelligence, bio-convergence and alternative energy and sustainability. Israel, a country the size of New Jersey and surrounded by enemies, relies on its ability to research, develop, and innovate game-changing technologies based on scientific and engineering ingenuity. Bar-Ilan’s focus on Deep Tech will propel Israel’s security, economy, and society forward for many years to come.

As a mentor of mine once told me, “The world might never love us, but peace will come sooner if they feel that they need us.” Investing in our human capital, science, and education is the way in which we ensure that need.

Israel embodies hope and resilience. Those who seek a bleaker tomorrow will always try to destroy her. But those who envision a brighter tomorrow wish to invest in her. Bar-Ilan University, like the country that birthed it, is driven by a vision of what’s possible when a sense of purpose rooted in eternal Jewish values meets scientific fortitude and educational excellence. Such an institution ensures that today’s challenges are transformed into tomorrow’s innovations and that current uncertainties fuel breakthrough discoveries.

Yes, Israel faces an existential moment, but it is also founded upon an existential truth deeper than existence itself. Yes, Bar-Ilan University is unique because of its commitment to excellent science, but also because its science and education are grounded in an even deeper aspiration to empower a better world. The research we engender exists not in a vacuum but rather has an impact on the everyday lives of Israel’s people and on the global community.

This generational gift is but the genesis of Bar-Ilan’s future, made by someone who believed in that future. We still have much work to do to realize the full power of our great institution. This is just the beginning.

This gift sets the stage for visionary partners across the globe to spearhead our mission of solidifying Israel’s excellence in the scientific world.

So, why would an American Ivy League alum bequeath more than a quarter billion dollars to a university in a tiny land in a hostile neighborhood more than 5,600 miles from his own home?

Because it is the surest way to catalyze a brighter tomorrow.

Why, when the entire world is questioning this tiny land’s existence, are we focusing on ensuring its future?

Because we are demonstrating what’s possible when generous partnership and purposeful vision unite to propel excellence forward.

We invite you to join us in this historic, transformational journey.

About the Author
Jessica Feldan is the Chief Executive Officer of the American Friends of Bar-Ilan University. She previously served as the Chief Development Officer at the Birthright Israel Foundation and Associate Vice President of the American Technion Society.