Highlights from 2023's Toronto Gala

Last month’s Negev Strong Gala – An Evening of BGUnity at The Westin Harbour Castle Conference Centre was a night to remember, brimming with inspiring moments that illuminated the strength of unity within the BGU Canada Toronto community in support of Israel. Here are the top moments that resonated with us to recap this special evening.

1. The memorial wall and video tribute:
The Memorial Wall, generously donated by Elliot Kohn and his experiential marketing company, Kubik, was a touching tribute to those in the Ben-Gurion University community who tragically lost their lives in the October 7th attacks. At the beginning of the evening, a video presentation was shared listing the names and photos of each one of the victims. We will never forget them. Together, we shared a moment of reflection, creating a sense of Jewish unity – “achdout.”

2. Fireside Chat between Naftali Bennett and Noa Tishby:
The fireside conversation between advocate/author Noa Tishby and Former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett provided us with invaluable insights into the former prime minister's whereabouts on the day of the attack. During the conversation, Bennett shared Israel’s security needs, recounted stories of resilience from heroes who risked their lives to save others, and expressed his pride in the young Israelis risking their lives to protect their nation. Naftali urged us to persist in advocating for Israel and supporting it through visits, even if just for a week. Their insightful dialogue fostered a deeper connection to our shared commitment, emphasizing the importance of sustained engagement.

3. Sylvan Adams' $100 Million Gift, a Second Largest Gift to Israel:
A truly momentous occasion unfolded as BGU President, Prof. Danny Chamovitz, announced the second-largest gift ever made to the nation—a staggering USD$100-Million generously donated by Sylvan Adams to BGU. These funds will drive initiatives in student services, groundbreaking research, climate change, technology, and environmental innovation, ensuring the Negev continues to bloom with prosperity and progress.

4. Over 1000 Singing Hatikvah
Hearing the voices of 1000 singing Hatikvah together was a profoundly moving experience. The gala's success served as a testament to the power of community. Over 1000 individuals gathered under one roof, united in their commitment to supporting Israel and standing resilient against challenges. The sheer magnitude of the turnout reflected the unwavering solidarity of the BGU Canada Toronto community.

6. BGU President, Professor Daniel Chamovitz Wearing a Maple Leaf Hockey Jersey:
Toronto stands with the Negev, and what better way to demonstrate this: BGU Canada’s Toronto Gala Co-Chair and Regional Board Co-President, Naomi Oelbaum gifted Professor Daniel Chamovitz with a Maple Leaf’s Jersey. Professor Chamovitz wasted no time donning it and making the crowds smile. 

5. T-Shirt Picture Moment:
Adding a touch of camaraderie and lightheartedness to the evening was the T-Shirt Picture Moment. Attendees held up specially designed Negev Strong T-shirts, creating a vibrant sea of support for the cause. This collective snapshot captured the spirit of unity and camaraderie, serving as a visual representation of the community's commitment to standing #NegevStrong.

The Negev Strong Gala was a night marked by transformative moments, each contributing to a collective narrative of resilience, unity, and generosity. From the Memorial Wall to Sylvan Adams' historic gift, the evening showcased the power of the Jewish community coming together in Toronto to build Israel when it's needed more than ever. As we continue to stand #NegevStrong, these highlights serve as enduring symbols of the impact that can be achieved when individuals unite with a shared vision of hope and support.

Special thanks to our generous donors and volunteers— The Wynn Family Charitable Foundation, Dr. Joseph Lebovic Charitable Foundation and Dr. Wolf Lebovic Charitable Foundation, The Oelbaum Family,  and all others whose support makes these impactful events possible.  

Watch the Negev Strong Gala video:

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