Longtime Jewish philanthropic leader and Chicago native Richard Wexler will lead the mega-gift fundraising of $300 million for a massive new education village to better connect Israel with the global Jewish community, announced JNF-USA.

Wexler will report to Kenneth Segel, vice president of Jewish National Fund (JNF-USA)’s Israel Relations Committee, who also serves as Campus Fundraising Chair for the new village.

The 16-acre site of the new JNF Israel Education and Technology Center is being designed as a state-of-the-art facility offering dormitory buildings, 100 apartments, a dining hall, restaurant, synagogue, conference center, classrooms, cafes and community rooms.

Pipes Bridge, Beersheva, Israel. Credit: Alexey Goral via Wikimedia Commons.

It will provide three separate centers within the village: a Zionist Education Center for 200 adults at a time to study, live and connect with Israelis and Jews from across the globe; a Technology Center offering 100 college and post-college students one- to two-year-long internships in Beersheva, where more than 60 global high-tech and cyber companies have opened operations; and the southern campus of the Alexander Muss High School based in Hod Hasharon, which annually educates some 1,500 students in its college-preparatory study-abroad program.

The new Muss facility will have the capacity to house up to 5,000 high school students from the United States and other countries who come to Israel and study Jewish history for six-week and semester-long programs, as well as summer sessions.

The village is expected to begin construction next year and open in 2024.

Ground was broken in February, just inside the Beersheva River Lake Park, which covers an area three times the size of New York’s Central Park, with a 23.5-acre lake, swimming pool, soccer fields, recreational activities, running paths and a 13,000-seat amphitheater within close proximity to the new education village.

All facilities are also close to Ben-Gurion University of the Negev with their growing enrollment and academic advances.

Wexler, a longtime real estate attorney specializing in land use and municipal law, noted that “I’ve traveled to Israel over 75 times and spent my adult life advocating for the land and people of Israel, yet it was on a recent trip with JNF-USA that I witnessed their grand vision that benefit hundreds of thousands of people every day from the north to the south.”

More benefits can be seen via professional-development opportunities.

JNF-USA president Dr. Sol Lizerbram said, “I recently met with leaders of some of Beersheva’s largest high-tech companies, all looking for quality U.S. post-graduates to serve as Interns. We all agreed that it’s imperative to offer one- to two-year-long internships so students have the necessary training and experience to be successful in the years to come.”