One of the most unique partnerships on the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev campus, The Jusidman Science Center for Youth, entered its permanent home this month with the dedication of a new building. Overlooking the University’s Gate of Aliya and Ben-Gurion Boulevard, the building will host a variety of programs that open the University's gates to high-school students from Beer-Sheva and the Negev region, offering enrichment courses in diverse disciplines.
A joint initiative of the Jusidman family of Mexico, the Rashi Foundation, the Ministry of Education, the Beer-Sheva Municipality and Ben-Gurion University, the impressive building was designed by Y.Y. Granot Architects Ltd.
The inauguration was a great success, featuring musicians, a tasty buffet lunch and many congratulatory speakers. Each partner was fulsome in his or her praise of the other partners, whose contribution yielded a working relationship that first brought the program to fruition and now the building to house it.
“Putting up the building was the easy part, but if it is not used, then we have failed,” warned Daniel Jusidman, family patriarch, in off-the-cuff remarks.
Jusidman explained that the family had decided to concentrate its philanthropic activity exclusively in Israel. He also noted that it had very high standards for its philanthropic donations.
“First we thought we could do it alone, but very quickly we realized we needed partners,” he remarked, sharing one of the lessons learned from more than a decade of philanthropic activity.
The family looked to the Negev for inspiration, despite not knowing much about the region. So they hired a helicopter and toured the region from the air.
Following the aerial survey, they decided to invest in educational projects. The Jusidman Science Center for Youth program met their rigorous requirements for success and so they were happy to have a part in erecting the impressive new building.
BGU President Prof. Rivka Carmi noted that the “Importance of early exposure to scientific content will allow our youth to think critically and innovatively and have an advantage at becoming the future of scientific research and development. Moreover, one of the most effective ways to improve scholastic achievements in science and technology is to establish science centers that complement and enrich core school programs.
“It will also enhance schoolteachers’ skills through the use of its state-of-the-art technological teaching tools.”
Lt.-Gen. (Ret.) Gabi Ashkenazi, Chairman of the Rashi Foundation, remarked, “Commitment and opportunity. This is an opportunity to give youngsters in the South an equal opportunity. This magnificent building serves that purpose: to enable them to actualize their choices.”
“I am looking forward to the next phase when the building is filled with youngsters realizing their opportunities,” he added.
He also thanked the Jusidman family for its passion, understanding and commitment.
Prof. Carmi thanked the Leven family, founders of the Rashi Foundation. Francois Leven represented the family at the ceremony.
Beer-Sheva Mayor Ruvik Danilovich enthusiastically praised the partnership which led to the creation of the program and the building.
“This is a new, ever-changing era in which the power of partnerships is self-evident,” he declared.
Turning to the Center itself, he called it a “greenhouse of dreamers” and noted that today’s teenagers will build everyone’s future.
He thanked Daniel Jusidman for his love and sense of responsibility and praised the Ministry of Education for investing in such a worthwhile project.
Shmuel Abuav, Director General of the Ministry of Education, thanked all of the partners and explained how this Center fulfills the Ministry's goals.
“One of the national and strategic goals we have set out in the work plan of the education system is to reduce gaps: narrowing the gaps between the periphery and the center and providing each and every child with the opportunity to integrate into academia in the future, in the exact sciences and social sciences. To this end, we are leading programs focused on achievements in science, mathematics and English,” he said.
The Jusidman Science Center indeed implements this vision, as demonstrated by the remarkable accomplishments of its students. The building dedication program also included a demonstration of a student-built robot that shoots baskets.