Canadian-Israeli philanthropist Sylvan Adams has made a $100 million donation to Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in order to strengthen the south of Israel in the aftermath of Hamas’s deadly Oct. 7 massacre.
The gift is one of the largest donations ever made to an Israeli university and is on par with recent major donations to U.S. Ivy League institutions.
“After the October 7th massacre of Israeli civilians by Hamas, it is crucial that we strengthen Israel’s south to ensure that Israelis feel safe and secure to rebuild their lives in the Negev,” Adams said at a gala event in Toronto on Sunday night. “We are telling our enemies and the world at large that we are here to stay. As such, the imperative to inject life into the Negev is more important now than ever.”
With some 20,000 students on three campuses, located in Be’er Sheva, Sde Boker and Eilat, BGU is the largest employer in the Negev, which makes up two-thirds of the country’s landmass. The university lost 82 members of its community in the attack, including students, staff, faculty and their family members.
The gift will be allocated towards the future of the Negev and Israel, technological advancement, climate change, sustainability and global health.
“We are profoundly grateful to Sylvan Adams for this transformative commitment to our university’s future,” said Ben-Gurion University President professor Daniel Chamovitz. “This gift will help guide the way forward for our community as we look to rebuild an even stronger Negev, together.”
Adams, 65, immigrated to Israel in 2015 after a highly successful career in real estate, and has worked to serve as an unofficial ambassador by presenting the story of the “normal” Israel to the world over the last decade.
In an interview with JNS last month, he said that the wave of anti-Israel activity around the world in the wake of the Hamas attack, aided by “useful idiots” and the media, had exposed an underlying antisemitism that never went away.
With about 30 percent of Israeli students among the 360,000 reservists called up for emergency military service following the outbreak of the war, the fall semester at universities nationwide has been pushed off until December 24.