At one of the darkest times in the history of the Jewish homeland, Americans for Ben-Gurion University (A4BGU) is delivering a message of hope centered around David Ben-Gurion’s vision for the future of Israel by leading the second annual Ben-Gurion Day in the USA on Nov. 19.
While Ben-Gurion Day is commemorated every year in Israel on the sixth of the Hebrew month Kislev, A4BGU brought it to the United States last year for the first time.
On the heels of the Nov. 14 “March for Israel” in Washington, D.C., one of the largest-ever pro-Israel demonstrations in the United States, Ben-Gurion Day is rallying Americans around a vision for 21st-century Zionism shaped by the pioneering spirit of Ben-Gurion, who turned his dream of a Jewish homeland into reality and saw the Negev Desert as the place where Israel’s innovative future would emerge.
The event is increasingly bringing this vision to life in America. A4BGU, in partnership with the Ben-Gurion Heritage Institute, is inviting Americans to honor the visionary first prime minister of Israel and to connect with Israel’s rich history and heritage.
“David Ben-Gurion’s vision that the future of Israel is in the Negev—a region that has been disproportionately affected by the Oct. 7 massacre—makes our commemoration of Ben-Gurion Day in the USA even more poignant and meaningful,” said Doug Seserman, CEO of A4BGU. “More so today than ever before, it is imperative that we honor Ben-Gurion’s legacy and keep his dream alive. He turned his dream of a Jewish homeland into reality. Together, we will prevail to keep this vision for the future of Israel alive.”
Ben-Gurion said in 1958: “Just as Diaspora Jewry is now dependent on the existence of Israel, thus the future of the state, its existence, security, and welfare, is with greater vigor, dependent on the fulfillment of its historical vocation through world Jewry.”
Eitan Donyets, CEO of the Ben-Gurion Heritage Institute, said this sentiment rings true today because “we are in the midst of a war, both nationally and globally. As Jews in Israel and abroad, we are facing threats from external sources and, now more than over, our spiritual resilience is so important.”
Israel’s innovative spirit is a new rallying cry for world Jewry’s quest to ensure that Zionism survives and thrives in the 21st century, as there has never been a better time to connect the next generation and our communities to Israel through the story of one of the Jewish state’s founding fathers.
“Today, more than ever, we see that there is no other answer for the Jewish people but Zionism,” said BGU president professor Daniel Chamovitz. “For us, this means we are already planning for the day after the war, as our mission will be more important than ever. The rebuilding of Israel’s resilience will start from the Negev. We will make sure that the Negev blooms in so many ways. That’s why we do what we do every single day. The Ben-Gurion mission, the Ben-Gurion story, is the Zionist story and the story of the future of Israel.”
For this year’s Ben-Gurion Day in the USA, more than 100 synagogues, schools and other Jewish institutions nationwide have joined A4BGU in honoring David Ben-Gurion’s timeless values, as well as love and passion for Israel. A4BGU’s new offering of a free “Program in a Box” is designed to engage and inspire Jewish organizations and communities as they commemorate Ben-Gurion’s legacy in meaningful ways.
Presented by A4BGU and the Ben-Gurion Heritage Institute, the box includes lesson plans, talking points for community leaders and a compilation of Ben-Gurion’s inspirational quotes. The quotes capture David Ben-Gurion’s vision, wisdom and unwavering commitment to Israel and the Jewish people.
Further, on Nov. 19, A4BGU is presenting an exclusive virtual event in partnership with the Ben-Gurion Heritage Institute that will take participants on a journey into the heart of Israel’s rich history and heritage, including how the visionary leadership of Ben-Gurion shaped the course of a nation. Recorded from inside his desert home in Sde Boker and at the historic Ben-Gurion Heritage Institute in the Negev, the 12 p.m. webinar will feature Donyets and Paula Kabalo, head of the Azrieli Center for Israel Studies, as well as BGU’s Ben-Gurion Research Institute for the Study of Israel and Zionism.
Ben-Gurion famously said: “The people of Israel will be tested in the Negev.” Kabalo explains that Ben-Gurion’s vision for the Negev is more relevant than ever after the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks.
“The Western Negev—recently coined ‘the envelope of Gaza’—took upon itself to fulfill Ben-Gurion’s vision and realized it successfully, in spite of the never-ending security challenges,” noted Kabalo. “The communities that thrived there realized Ben-Gurion’s highest expectations of being creative, pioneering, committed and resilient. Yet following the massacre of Oct. 7, these communities are now uprooted, and some have been devastated in ways that are beyond imagination. Reconstructing those communities and this part of the Negev as a whole will have to be defined as a leading national objective—echoing Ben-Gurion’s view that ‘if the Negev fails to stand, so will Tel Aviv.’”
She added, “We must keep looking forward and consider our task as maintaining the existence and continuation of the Jewish people, one that depends on a sovereign thriving State of Israel and a cohesive society and solidarity among our people.”
Register for the webinar at: https://americansforbgu.org/webinar/.
For more information on Ben-Gurion Day in the USA, visit: https://americansforbgu.org/benguriondayintheusa