Every once in a while an event comes along which touches everyone in the room: The Canadian Associates of Ben-Gurion University - Montreal Region hosted a Gala Dinner at the Shaar Hashomayim Synagogue last May 27 at which three hundred and seventy-five people were impressed, enthralled and moved by speeches, testimonials, facts and video.
Guest of Honour was Larry Nachshen, Montreal entrepreneur and devoted Jewish Community leader. Larry, best characterized as “a real mentsch”, spoke emotionally about being caught in a bomb raid in Beersheva, Israel, while visiting Ben-Gurion University in the fall of 2012. “We calmly got out of the van, went inside the gym, heard two rockets shrieking their way from Gaza”, recalls Larry, who was inspired by this experience to raise funds for BGU’s Crisis Intervention Project. This endeavour aims to develop research activity in the field of disaster and emergency preparedness, both in Israel and in the world at large. The first responders at the recent Boston Marathon Bombing were trained in this program; everyone in the room understood the significance of the Crisis Intervention Project.
Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, John Baird, introduced by Ben Sperer, Honorary President of CABGU Montreal, emphatically asserted his personal passion for the State of Israel, and his government’s support of Israel’s right to exist in peace and security. His presentation, enhanced by powerful photographic images, was deeply appreciated by his listeners.
It’s no secret that Israel excels in scientific research and development, but her description of Ben-Gurion’s recent accomplishments in the fields of nanotechnology, neurodegenerative brain diseases, cyber security, to name just a few, focused everyone’s attention to Professor Rivka Carmi, President of the university. Renowned as a researcher in genetics - there is even a syndrome that bears her name - Professor Carmi overwhelmed the audience with her knowledge, her profound intelligence and her commitment to Israel’s youngest - and most popular - university.
Though the intellectual calibre of the event was impressive, it would be a pity not to mention the fabulous food and stunning décor that made this evening so very special. Tommy Schnurmacher, master of ceremonies, contributed his very special brand of wit and humour. Classical, Israeli and Klezmer music performed by a gifted string trio, masses of orchids and elegantly clad and bejewelled guests made this an evening to remember!
Spotted among the orchids were Sylvain and Gilda Abitbol, The Hon. Irwin Cotler O.C., M.P., CABGU Montreal President Robert Elman and Joyce Gampel, CABGU National President Gary Fine and Tamara, Israeli Consul-General Joel Lion and Rivka Lion, CABGU Chief Executive Officer Mark Mendelson and Edna Mendelson, honouree Larry Nachshen and Margaret Nachshen, Dr. Bernard Shapiro, O.C., G.O.C., Dianne and Aldo Bensadoun, Fran and Reuben Croll, Gordon and Penny Echenberg, Gerald and Sherry Feifer, Herb and Carole Feifer, Morris and Rosalind Goodman, Stephen Gross, Shirley Ann and Peter Lewis, Jeremy Reitman, Alvin and Emmelle Segal, Jeff and Pauline Segel, and Martin Schwartz.
The Crisis Intervention Project at BGU is one that should especially resonate with Beersheva’s twin city, Montreal. It prepares students to enter into communities during times of crisis to offer physical, psychological and emotional help to those in need. The project began several years ago and with the support and commitment of Professor Rivka Carmi, the president of BGU, significant infrastructure has been put in place.
The escalation of rocket attacks on Beersheva in 2011 and 2012 immediately changed the pace of the project. With missiles falling, Beersheva and the surrounding areas were under attack and immediate intervention was needed to treat the endangered population. Born in crisis with a universal application, this program not only prepares BGU students to work in Beersheva and the surrounding areas but is also a template to be used in crisis situations around the world.
More than 600 students braved the recent onslaught of missiles and, despite having BGU officially closed for the duration of the bombing, returned to Beersheva and worked in the community helping those in peril. It was as a result of Larry’s personal experience during one of those attacks when he had to seek refuge in a nearby bomb shelter and witnessed firsthand the outstanding work these BGU students were performing, that he chose to support the Crisis Intervention Project.
We would like to express our deepest gratitude to the following sponsors:
Quallenberg Wealth Management - RBC Dominion Securities - Gold
ScotiaMcLeod - Gold
RBC Dominion Securities - Gold
Elman Wealth Management- ScotiaMcLeod - Silver
Dorel Industries Inc. - Bronze
Purpose Investments Inc.
Fran & Reuben Croll - Platinum
Larry & Margaret Nachshen - Platinum
Anonymous - Silver
The Penny and Gordon Echenberg Family Foundation - Silver
Shirley Ann & Peter Lewis - Silver
Sherry & Gerald Feifer - Bronze
Carole & Herb Feifer - Bronze
Edna & Mark Mendelson - Bronze
Maksymilian Wulkan - Bronze
Mark Mendelson, MSW
Canadian Associates of Ben-Gurion University