Last week, a very dear man, a man of vision and action, a man who did so much for the Jewish people and the State of Israel, passed away. Many have already spoken of his various contributions on the national level, and many more will do so. I seek to focus on his work to promote Ariel University in Samaria, which owes its current standing largely to his support.

Sheldon Adelson was a legendary figure who believed in and worked toward the development of the academic institution in Ariel. He did this in periods of calm but also in difficult times when the world banded together to prevent our institution from becoming a university. Sheldon expressed his support for us publicly, effusively and with great pride.

Thanks to his belief and support, the Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson School of Medicine was established at Ariel University, and now there are first- and second-year medical students studying there to become physicians. The establishment of the medical school was a historic event that changed the face of the university and is expected to influence Israel’s medical system in the future.

Sheldon contributed a great deal to the university, but I believe his greatest contribution was not material, but moral. In an institution contending with many difficulties and various boycotts, in addition to the difficulties any fledgling academic institution must face, sometimes the most important thing is your partners on the path; external figures that believe in you and your goals.

Time and time again, Sheldon gave us hope, vision, determination and strength, and at every opportunity took care to emphasize the academic importance inherent in a university such as ours.

I won’t forget his first visit to the university, when I was still the head of the molecular biology department. At one meeting, Sheldon declared: “A medical school will be established here! I will help you.” After that, Sheldon visited the university several times, and each time we were excited anew by his friendly presence and his faith in us.

We have lost a dear man, but his work to promote the academy will only grow in strength. The medical school along with the medical center now under construction constitute an important milestone for regional prosperity and a wonderful tool for dialogue and the promotion of peace in our region. That was his vision, as he said during one of his last visits to the university. “I expect the establishment of the medical school and the medical center to be a good base for the advancement of peace with our neighbors, and I believe this will be the case,” he said.

One cannot help but also relate to the deep ties Dr. Miriam and Sheldon Adelson had with another exemplary man, Ariel University founder Yigal Cohen-Orgad, who passed away last summer. They were full partners in vision and practice. Thanks to people like these and their vision, Ariel University in Samaria is flourishing.

Professor Albert Pinhasov is head of the Behavioral and Molecular Psychiatry Laboratory at Ariel University.

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

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