A new student dormitory was dedicated today on BGU's Eilat campus. The five storey building which will house 72 students was funded and built by the Jewish Federation of Toronto, the Rashi Foundation, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and the municipality of Eilat. A generous donation from Brian and Avrona Schachter enabled the establishment of the building.
The Toronto Jewish Federation, which has invested in the health and education spheres in Eilat for many years, identified the students’ need for dorms. Rent in Eilat is high, due to its being a tourist city, and the students reported difficulty in financing studies and living expenses. In light of that, building the dorms answered an essential need. The construction will encourage the arrival of additional students outside of Eilat, will create a campus atmosphere for the students, and will change the demographics of the city.
The Federation invested a sum of 2.3 million US$ in the first stage of construction. Its investment led to additional ones by the Rashi foundation, Ben-Gurion University, and the city of Eilat. The total cost for the first building was 4.5 million US$.
This is the first of seven buildings which are planned in the dormitory area which will house 500 students and include a public services building with student association offices, a bank, a post-office, shops, laundry services and a swimming pool. The dormitory building will provide students studying at the Eilat campus housing of a high standard. Each student will have his/her own bedroom in a 4-bedroom apartment with a shared lounge, a well-equipped kitchen area and two toilets and showers.
The ceremony to inaugurate the building took place in the presence of the Schachter family, members of the Canadian Jewish community, Mayor of Eilat Mr. Yitzhak Halevi, Rabbi Eli Aflalo, Dean of Eilat Campus Prof. Shaul Krakower, Prof. Yael Edan - Vice-Rector of Ben Gurion University, and a delegation of donors and honorable representatives from Canada.
Mr. Brian Schachter, one of the major donators to the dormitories' project commented, “Through the construction of the dorms, and providing accommodations for students, we have completed the aid for students in Eilat. We provide above 500 scholarships for students on campus, so that they’ll have the opportunity to get a higher education. In exchange, the students volunteer and work for the benefit of the community. The Toronto Federation sees in Eilat a central target for grants, investments and donations; we believe in the southernmost city in Israel and its importance to the state, and therefore develop projects in the sphere of education, health and renewable energy.”
Shirit Yaphet, Head of the Student Union noted, “As a girl, I didn’t even imagine the option of an academic degree in my birth city. It was clear to me I would have to leave the city in order to advance and study at university. The opening of a BGU campus in Eilat gave me and other young people an opportunity that a few years ago seemed impossible.”
Shimon Roket, an Anthropology and Sociology student from Tzipori in the north said, “I came to study in Eilat, and already I feel a part of the city. I contribute to the community, and feel socially integrated. As a student who completely finances himself independently, I am having difficulties paying the expensive rent in town. Without the scholarship I am receiving from Toronto, I wouldn’t be able to continue studying. I think building dorms is the ideal solution for students, especially those who come from distant areas.”
Photographs: Aran Dolev