Updates from BGU President

Last Update: Monday November 6

Dear Friends, 

In times of crisis, humor has always been an invaluable ally to the Jews, a silver lining that has allowed us to endure through centuries of hardship. Our legacy is one rich with laughter amidst tears, a trait that has helped preserve our community’s spirit. 

It is with this spirit, and a month following the October 7 massacres, that I share with you a touch of levity emanating from Israel, a testament to our enduring resolve to face challenges with a smile. "Eretz Nehederet," our version of "Saturday Night Live," has been instrumental in providing this comic relief. 

I invite you to watch two recent skits that offer a satirical take on current events. The first pokes fun at the overtly biased coverage by the BBC regarding Israel. It’s a brilliant piece that reminds us not to lose sight of perspective when consuming news media. You can watch it here:

The second, which aired just last night, is an unapologetic look into the troubling currents of antisemitic rhetoric among seemingly liberal college students on some elite American university campuses, including a clever play on words renaming Columbia University as "Columbia Untisemity." The sketch’s biting wit and willingness to confront sensitive issues head-on are as thought-provoking as they are entertaining. View it here:

In a more serious tone, I recently expressed my frustration regarding this very issue of antisemitism on university campuses in an interview, where I questioned the paradoxical situation we're facing: "Why Can’t Jews Be Given Same Protection on Campus as Pronouns?" This became the title of the article, and this interview was not my usual composed dialogue, but rather a candid outpouring of my genuine concerns. I invite you to read the full discussion here:

Laughter and solemnity can be powerful partners. While we enjoy a much-needed respite through humor, we also remain steadfast in confronting and addressing the serious issues at hand. As I write this, 3000 of our students are defending our right to live as Israelis. While we laugh at Eretz Nehedert, we can do this because we all are ever aware of the stakes of our battle, and the price that we pay. 

And as they say at the end of every episode of Eretz Nehederet, "Don't forget, we have a wonderful country!"


Update: Wednesday November 1

Dear Friends,

In the midst of the complexities and challenges that we face, it's sometimes necessary to remind ourselves, that we are not alone in our war on Hamas. Over the past two days I've had two visits which enforce this idea.

Yesterday, I had the distinct privilege of hosting Dalia al-Aqidi in my office at Ben-Gurion University. Dalia, an immigrant to the United States from Iraq and educated in Lebanon, is the founder of the American Center for Counter Extremism. She is also currently a candidate running for Congress in Minneapolis, aiming to unseat Ilhan Omar.

Now, I want to clarify that under normal circumstances, I would maintain a careful distance from the intricacies of U.S. partisan politics. However, in light of Ilhan Omar's open support of Hamas, I allow myself to deviate from my normal caution. Our conversation highlighted the importance of a nuanced perspective on the geopolitical issues we face, particularly regarding groups such as Hamas, which are universally designated as terrorist organizations.

Dalia was interviewed on Fox News right from my office. You can watch it here: Please notice the Ben-Gurion University flag proudly displayed in the background. I encourage you to listen to what Dalia has to say. It is critical for promoting a different narrative than that played across so much of the reporting on the war.

Then earlier today, I ventured into Rahat, the largest Bedouin city situated just north of Be’er Sheva. My guide was Wachid, a retired IDF colonel hailing from Rahat. Our first stop was a Bedouin-Jewish distribution center, diligently working to provide essentials to those affected by the ongoing war. Notably, this center is managed primarily by a coalition of Bedouin and Jewish women. Witnessing such communal unity in action was genuinely inspiring. We then visited a survivor of the October 7 attack by Hamas, who was shot while working at the NOVA dance party but miraculously survived. His hand was saved by surgery at Soroka University Hospital. Our final visit was to the Ziadna family, who have four members—a father, two sons, and a 16-year-old daughter—kidnapped and taken to Gaza. They were working in one of the kibbutzim near the border when they were abducted.

A recurring sentiment expressed throughout my visit to Rahat was the residents' deep resentment, I would even call it hate, toward Hamas, whom they accuse of disgracing Islam. They fully support all of Israel's efforts to eradicate them. The locals stressed their loyalty to Israel, despite the issues they face.

Both these stories, Dalia's and those from Rahat, underscore the importance of recognizing the shades of gray in our global landscape. It is crucial that we understand the plurality of perspectives, including Muslim allies, in our fight against organizations like Hamas.

These are not simple times, nor are the solutions straightforward. However we have a crucial role in fostering nuanced understanding and unity against forces that threaten to divide us.

I thank you once again for your ongoing support and active involvement in our shared journey.


Update - Thursday October 26

Dear Members of the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Community,

Today's narrative brings a breath of hope amidst the heartbreak I often write about. The story centers around Keshet School in Shaar HaNegev, a community school situated perilously close, 4 km, to the Gaza border. This school's population and families had countless casualties in the October 7th massacres, and its surviving student body was displaced. However, this is where the Israeli Spirit of BGU steps in.

Many of the families affected by this tragedy were relocated to hotels Eilat. Seeing an real need, we offered the facilities of our Eilat Campus to the school's principal. It warms my heart to report that yesterday, fifty elementary-aged students returned to Keshet School, which is now temporarily housed at our Eilat Campus. For the first time since that black, awful Saturday, these young students reunited with their friends in a place that feels like a second home. The staff told me it felt like the first day of school all over again.

Ami, our campus's administrative director, was vigilant in placing the children in classrooms adjacent to protected spaces, should they be needed. He and his team in Eilat has been incredibly proactive, creating a loving and protective environment for the children and attending to any need that arises. In the words of one staff member, the children already feel at home.

We are providing this essential service free of charge. Unlike the hotels where many displaced residents are staying, BGU has no guarantee of reimbursement. But that was never our primary concern. Our mission, as always, guides our actions. Given our initial success, sixty more students from the Eshkol Regional Council will resume their education on our Eilat Campus starting this coming Sunday.

I was recently asked what our emergency funds would be used for. My answer was both simple and complicated: nothing and everything. We activated our resources immediately, without worrying about the cost or hesitating to launch a fundraising campaign. However, any support we receive bolsters our confidence and ability to carry out such crucial missions.

Thank you for standing with us, especially in times like these. Your support allows us to be agile, responsive, and, above all, compassionate.

Stay safe, and keep believing in BGU.

Warm regards,

Update - Wednesday October 25

Dear Friends,

Yesterday, my journey of consolation led me to the David Hotel at the Dead Sea, the 5-star DP camp for the survivors of Kibbutz Beeri. In an area previously used for business meetings, families now sit Shiva.

The weight of the tragedy is palpable; Kibbutz Beeri lost over 130 lives on that fateful day of October 7th.

I sat with the father of Sophie—a pseudonym to protect the family's privacy. Both he and Sophie are graduates of BGU, and she was continuing on to postgraduate education. With kindness radiating from his eyes, he told me the harrowing tale of his daughter's final moments. Sophie's husband was killed while valiantly attempting to fend off the terrorists outside their home. She and her three sons took refuge in the mamad, the fortified room designed for protection. As the terrorists broke through the door, Sophie and her oldest son made the ultimate sacrifice to protect the younger ones: Sophie lay on the middle child, the oldest son on the youngest. Their plan worked; the younger sons survived, hidden beneath the lifeless bodies of their mother and older brother.

I was too stunned by the gravity of the story to remember the grandfather's next words, but a fleeting moment of what could only be described as tragic resilience caught my eye: the two surviving grandsons ran by, chasing a soccer ball barefoot, as is the style of kibbutz children.

As I took my leave, the grandfather embraced me, thanking me for coming. I found myself haunted by the thought that we had just discussed a real-life "Sophie's Choice," a situation no parent or grandparent should ever face.

In times like this, our roles are not just professional but deeply, inherently human. The complexities of life have become almost surreal, a painful mosaic of sorrow, resilience, and indomitable spirit. Through it all, we find strength in community, as we look to our family, friends, and the larger BGU community for support and meaning.

As always, thank you for being part of this community. Be strong with us.

Stay safe and resilient.

Professor Daniel Chamovitz
President, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Update - Tuesday, October 24

Dear Members of the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Community,

Earlier today, I got a message from a friend saying something like "I've come to dread opening your emails. Each is more heart-wrenching than the one before…". So I hope you'll find today's message a bit lighter.

Since the calamitous events of October 7, I have been on a mission to shed light on the unfolding situation in Israel through the prism of our own community. In this context, I recently had the honor of representing our community on NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt (click on the picture below). As an Israeli citizen and your University President, I consider this to be both my duty and an honor—a personal calling or "tzav 8 (reserves draft notice)" if you will.

Walking through our campus these days, you cannot help but notice the haunting quiet that has settled. The classrooms and communal spaces that usually teem with the lifeblood of our university—our students—are largely vacant. However, let me assure you that I am filled with the unwavering belief that these corridors will, at the appropriate time, resonate once again with the vibrant sounds of students and the invigorating exchange of ideas. Though the rhythm of normalcy may be altered, it will return.

As our nation grapples with conflict and loss, we at Ben-Gurion University have an important role to play. Discussions are underway about how we can most effectively assist our students, staff, and the wider community during these times. The steps we have taken so far are just the beginning, and your support is crucial in shaping our next actions.

Let us not forget that as we look to the future, we do so with a renewed sense of purpose. The challenges we face will test us, but we will emerge from these times with a deeper sense of community and a clearer vision for what Ben-Gurion University can and will achieve. It's your continued support that allows us to dream big, and to take the steps necessary to turn those dreams into reality.

Stay safe and resilient.

Professor Daniel Chamovitz
President, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Update - Monday, October 23

Dear Friends,

Today, I'd like to share a story that weaves together two significant roles I hold— President of BGU and father.

This morning, my journey of consoling the mourning within our BGU family continued. I visited Aliza, who recently retired after years of devoted service as the academic secretary of the Department of Middle East Studies. She shared the heartbreaking story of her brother Eliyahu and nephew Arie, who were victims of the murderous attack on October 7. The agony of not knowing their fate for 13 days was an inhuman ordeal, she described. Their bodies were finally identified and laid to rest yesterday. One of them had even acted heroically, jumping on a grenade to save others.

As I left the shiva house, I received a call from my daughter-in-law informing me that my son, who is on reserve duty, was sleeping on the floor without a mattress. My immediate thought was to buy a field mattress for him, but where? I was in an unfamiliar part of the south, near Gaza. So, I returned to the shiva, apologized for the intrusion, and inquired if they knew of a nearby store where I could purchase a mattress. What happened next was nothing short of Israeli. Aliza's brother rose from his mourning chair, went inside, and came out with two camping mattresses—one for my son and another for anyone else in need. I was moved to tears.

After navigating several security checkpoints, I finally reached my son's location. After waiting for an additional hour, he arrived at the guard post to collect the mattresses and some snacks I had picked up along the way.

Today's journey through the western Negev connected me to both the pain of mourning and the future of Israel, as well as from my BGU family to my own. It served as a powerful reminder of the resilience and compassion that embody our community, even in the darkest of times.


Professor Daniel Chamovitz
President, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Update - Sunday, October 22

Dear Friends,

It has been two harrowing weeks since we all woke up to the unthinkable devastation wrought by the Hamas and Islamic Jihad led terror attack, resulting in 1,400 lives lost, over 200 people kidnapped, and tens of thousands turned into refugees.

Our BGU community has not been unscathed. While statistics can never capture the magnitude of human suffering, it is essential that you know the impact on our community: 16 students and staff, both academic and administrative, were taken from us. Additionally, 33 family members of our staff have been lost, and four remain missing or kidnapped. Families of over 200 of our employees have been displaced, now residing in repurposed hotels serving as refugee camps. A significant, yet undisclosed, number of our students have been called up for reserve duty. Nearly every family in the BGU community, including my own, has loved ones who have been called up for reserve duty, or if not, knows families whose children have been.

As we contend with these immense challenges, our hearts and prayers are with our soldiers and reservists, for their safe and speedy return.
To remember and honor those we lost, we have created a memorial page which you can visit at: In Memoriam.

We are in the early stages of discussions about the best ways to memorialize the victims of October 7th. Their memory shall forever be a blessing, guiding us as we continue to strive for a better future. Clearly, the landscape of our community has been forever altered, and as we navigate this tumultuous time, let us do so with the resilience and solidarity that defines us.

May their memory be for a blessing.

Professor Daniel Chamovitz
President, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Update - Friday, October 20

Dear Friends,

Today's letter diverges from previous ones; it is deeply personal.

Over these past two harrowing weeks, I have found myself doing things I never could have fathomed—bearing witness to unfathomable pain, offering comfort to the inconsolable, and standing beside those in utter despair. I am not alone in this. The entire administration at BGU has demonstrated remarkable fortitude. Our presence at funerals and at Shivas has brought a glimmer of light to an overwhelmingly dark world. This experience has strengthened us all, and in turn, fortified the university. Yet, it has also exacted an emotional toll on each of us. I suspect many of you, like me, look in the mirror questioning whether you will ever be the same again.

When asked how I am, my response is "strong and broken." Remarkably, one can be both.

This duality aligns with the psychological model of "aintegration,"* originally developed by Israeli researchers studying Holocaust survivors. The theory describes the human capacity to hold cognitive and emotional complexity, to navigate incongruences, inconsistencies, and paradoxes without experiencing undue strain. I am certainly not without "undue strain" over these past two weeks, but I have found peace in accepting that I can be both strong and functional, and yet broken, without being consumed by the incongruity. By acknowledging this pain and sadness, I aim to maintain the resilience needed for the challenges that lie ahead.

As Shabbat approaches, I offer you this poem: (translated by me)

Resilience of their Heart, Nirit Yaacov Cohen

Do not think for a second
That you are doing nothing!
With each hug, with each nice word
With each retelling of a story, With each meal you make
With each tickle, With each whisper
With each moment that you are a safe haven
For all emotions that rise to surface
You are building the true "safe room" (mamad) for children

Wishing you a Shabbat of reflection, of strength, and of aintegration.

Professor Daniel Chamovitz
President, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

*If you are interested in learning more about aintegration, you can read the article here:

Update - Thursday, October 19

Dear Friends,

We are all still shocked by the enormity of the horror that is still unfolding. The stories keep coming and the number of wounded, killed, missing, and abducted continues to rise. I want to share with you a story about two from the University community, a small story within all the stories of tragedy that we hear.

Unfortunately, most of you know Noa Argamani from the picture that has been published around the world. Noa is a third-year student in Software and Information Systems Engineering at the University. From the beginning, she knew she wanted to study engineering, so she did a dedicated preparatory program. In school she is always "on it". Motivated, sharp, highly invested.
In her personal life, Noa is more relaxed. She is always surrounded by friends and is known for her willingness to help out. Noa loves to celebrate life. She goes to parties, produces parties and organizes anything good for the people around her. Apart from parties, Noa loves to walk in nature. Every semester break, she organizes a trip to some stream, sea, or forest. One of Noa's greatest loves is the sea, so many of the trips were of course to some beach. Which? No matter, leave it to Noa to plan it.

Noa plans to move in with her boyfriend, Avinatan Or, at the end of the coming school year. They've been talking about it for months.

Avinatan Or successfully completed a degree in electrical and computer engineering at Ben-Gurion University. Avinatan, 30, the second of 7siblings, grew up in Shilo and currently lives in Tel Aviv. During his studies, Avinatan volunteered both with the Perah organization and in the pediatric oncology department at Soroka. Not that studying engineering is easy, we all know it’s not, but he doesn't know how to do it any other way. Avinatan, an optimistic and funny man, who moves blithely through life, loves to party, of course mainly with Noa. When he's not partying, he likes to read books, cook, and entertain friends at home.

Avinatan saw Noa at the University Purim party and asked a friend of his to send Noa a message on Instagram (because Avinatan doesn't have Instagram).

They went on a date and became a couple.

On Saturday morning, Noa and Avinatan were at the nature party next to Reim. Of course, they would be there. Another party, good music, nature too. How could they not?

Both are now apparently kidnapped by Hamas, and we are consumed with worry and concern for them and others who are missing and kidnapped, praying for their return to us safe and sound soon.


Professor Daniel Chamovitz
President, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Update - Wednesday, October 18

Dear Friends,

The disheartening news regarding the equivocal, or even troubling stances taken by Presidents of some of America's most esteemed universities in connection with the murderous attacks by Hamas leaves us all dumbfounded. Equally disturbing are reports of faculty and students from Ivy League and other institutions openly supporting Hamas. I don't need to explain how this terrorizes Jewish students and other supporters of Israel.

However, it's crucial to not lose sight of a parallel narrative. I am uplifted to share that numerous university presidents have reached out with unequivocal support, sorrow, and a brave condemnation of the terrorist attacks. It's a powerful testament to the enduring value of academia as a force for good.

The university presidents who have reached out with their support and solidarity include:

  • Michael Crow, Arizona State University
  • Ching-Hua Wang, Bielefeld University
  • Ronald Liebowitz, Brandeis
  • John Fry, Drexel
  • Walter Rosenthal, Friedrich-Schiller Universität
  • Rachelle K. Keck, Grand View University
  • Noureddine Mouaddib, International University of Rabat
  • Jiří Pokorný, Mendel University
  • Daniel A. Wubah, Millersville University
  • Timothy Rahilly, Mount Royal University
  • Bonnie Ball Copenhaver, New River Community and Technical College
  • Teik C Lim, NJIT
  • Geraldine Rauch, Technische Universität Berlin
  • Hicham El Habti, UM6P
  • Santa J Ono, University of Michigan
  • Udo Hebel, University of Regensburg
  • Sarah C. Mangelsdorf, University of Rochester
  • Joan Gabel, University of Pittsburgh
  • Diego Quiroga Ferri, Universidad San Francisco de Quito USFQ
  • Carol Folt, USC

If you have any connections with these institutions, I would highly encourage you to reach out and express your appreciation.

In addition, I received heartfelt, personal letters from our recent Honorary Doctorate Laureates including President Ursula von der Leyen, Dr. Chelsea Clinton, and Timotheus Höttges.

This is just a small sampling of the support my colleagues and I have received from provosts, deans, research institutions, and individual researchers from around the world. During a period marked by encroaching anti-Semitism and wavering intellectual and moral rigor from some academic corners, it's crucial to remember we are not alone.

The support from these academic leaders is illuminating the darkness we currently face. This gives me immense hope.

Professor Daniel Chamovitz
President, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Update - Monday, October 16

Dear Friends,

As we move into the second week of the developing war, I wanted to bring you up-to-date on the remarkable resilience that Ben-Gurion University has displayed.

While the initial shock of the devastating attacks on October 7th is giving way to a sobering understanding of our current reality, the university has stood strong as a beacon of resilience in the Negev. What began as an immediate response from our medical and paramedical staff and students in Ashkelon, Be'er Sheva, and Ashdod hospitals has now evolved into a plethora of organized, impactful activities. Indeed, we go boldly in all we do.

We have initiated a designated resilience center to offer emotional and mental support, boosting resilience amid these traumatic times. Recognizing the challenges that our new and continuing students are facing, we have initiated phone contact with each of our 18,000 students to assess their needs and offer any assistance they might need.

Our commitment to crisis preparedness includes the implementation of Crisis Management Workshops and ongoing staff training. On the volunteering front, we’ve achieved significant strides. For instance, we’ve set up a hub for the Lev Ehad organization and a logistics center in the Zlotowski Student Union building. Students lead these operations, and we are seeing an inspiring turnout of staff and volunteers pitching in.

Moreover, we are providing housing for medical staff, families of the wounded, soldiers, and volunteer teams, ensuring we play our part in bolstering the Negev's resilience during these unparalleled times.

This conflict is unlike anything we've ever faced. However, as we've demonstrated in past crises, including the pandemic, the indomitable BGU Spirit "that anything is possible", fueled by our shared belief in the Power of Together, is guiding us through this challenging period.

Rest assured, your university is more committed than ever to leading in crisis and serving as a steadfast community partner. Thank you for your unwavering support and trust.

Professor Daniel Chamovitz
President, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Update - Thursday, October 12

What do you say to parents whose daughter was kidnapped by the terrorists to Gaza?

Noa Argamani is a BGU student in the Department of Information Systems Engineering. She was, unknown to her parents, at the Peace Rave (an open dance party) that was overrun by a blood-thirsty band of terrorists early Saturday morning. We now know that at least 250 were murdered and mutilated at point-blank range. Some were taken hostage, and Noa was filmed pleading for her life, while being carted off to Gaza on a motorbike.

The terrorists grotesquely turned it into a tiktok post.

I sat today with her parents Leora and Yaacov. They are a lovely couple, very modest. Noa is their only daughter, who they had relatively late in life. Leora is originally from China, where she was known as Li. To add to the tragedy, she suffers from an inoperable brain tumor which has left her partially paralyzed. Somehow, she smiled at me throughout our conversation.

Yaacov, who dons a small black kippa, retold the horror of Saturday, how with the early morning sirens, he saw Noa wasn't home, but assumed she went back to her campus housing. How he tried to call but got no answer. How after two hours he got her boyfriend Avinatan on the phone, who said "we're ok, I'll call back in 10 minutes", a call which never came. How he ran, and then got a ride, to Soroka to see if she was injured. How he was even relieved that she wasn't there. Until when a friend showed him the video, at which point he fainted.

Throughout our conversation, this was the only time his voice started breaking, "She looked so scared, so horrified! She was trying to reach out, maybe to Avinatan, and then I hear her crying, 'don't kill me!' My baby girl!"

Today, October 12, is Noa's 26th birthday. Her friends were at the house, celebrating for her. Noa's absence filled the room with a solemnity that words cannot describe. In that space of sorrow, the best we can offer is the assurance of our unwavering support and love for Noa and her family.

So, what do you say to parents whose daughter was kidnapped by the terrorists to Gaza?

Professor Daniel Chamovitz
President, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Update - Wednesday, October 11

Dear Friends,

The harrowing events currently unfolding in Israel have cast a pall across our academic community and indeed, our nation. Today, I engaged in discussions with several of my counterparts, university presidents from all corners of the globe. I expressed our deep gratitude for their support, but more urgently, the necessity for an unambiguous condemnation of the heinous actions we are witnessing by Hamas terrorists. The unspeakable acts, coupled with a celebratory spirit of violence, evoke dark memories of our history, reminiscent of the likes of pogroms and the Holocaust.

My colleagues and I, the presidents of all the public research universities in Israel, reached out to university leaders across the world. Our message highlights the unparalleled barbarity of Hamas' attacks on innocent Israeli civilians, ranging from the youngest to our elderly. Beyond just sporadic violence, we were confronted with deliberate abductions, tortures, and executions. It's crucial to underline that this isn't the familiar narrative of the Israeli-Palestinian tensions we know. The extent of cruelty displayed is akin to the inhumanity we've seen from extremist factions like the Taliban and the Islamic State.

Of great concern is the potential stance of academic institutions abroad. There's an emerging narrative that could display an unbalanced view, possibly leaning towards sympathy for these terrorists. As part of the global academic community, it is their duty to strongly denounce any endorsement or justifications of such terror.

In my dialogue today with Barbara Snyder, President of the Association of American Universities, which includes 69 major institutions, and former president of Case Western Reserve, she assured me of her unwavering support. She committed to ensuring that there is no false equivalence made between Hamas's and Israel's actions.

The insightful book, "Jews Don't Count" by David Baddiel, aptly highlights the unique nature of antisemitism, especially in left-wing politics. Baddiel's arguments underscore that antisemitism often faces double standards, leading to distinct discrimination against Jews. This resonates strongly with our present reality. We must ensure that the actions of Hamas aren't explained away or equivocated with any actions taken by Israel. We derive no pleasure from this conflict, unlike Hamas who displayed the macabre act of celebrating over the corpses of children.

To those who wonder, "What can we do?", remember that many of you are valued alumni of prestigious universities. Wield your influence. Reconsider your support for institutions whose leaders do not explicitly condemn Hamas's actions, and of those who support them on their campuses.

With heartfelt appreciation and hope for a peaceful tomorrow,

Professor Daniel Chamovitz
President, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Update - Tuesday, October 10

Dear Friends,

Today, amid the profound challenges our nation faces, I had the solemn duty of paying condolences at the shiva for the husband of one of our amazing students. She is currently working on her PhD in social sciences, researching the critical issue of personal autonomy for women concerning birth control.

Her husband, a commander in an elite unit, leaves behind their four children, all under the age of ten. The weight of her loss and the responsibility she now carries is unimaginable. Words failed me as I struggled to offer any consolation, and I could only extend the unwavering love and support of the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev community.

Concurrently, our Rector attended the funeral in Ofakim for the brother of one of our valued employees from our Sde Boker Campus. He was a brave policeman who made the ultimate sacrifice during the defense operations on Saturday.

In light of these tragic, unimaginable events, we have been impelled to establish a mourning protocol. It is essential for us to ensure that no funeral goes unattended and that no shiva remains unvisited. Our senior leadership is deeply committed to attending these wrenching, sad events, ensuring that every individual in our BGU family receives the support, respect, and solidarity they deserve during these awful times.

These heart-wrenching moments serve as poignant reminders of the human cost of conflict and the intertwined lives of our BGU family members. As we grieve these irreplaceable losses, we are reminded of the importance of community, support, and solidarity.

With a heavy heart,

Professor Daniel Chamovitz
President, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Update - Monday, October 9

Dear Friends,

I just got off a heartening zoom call with many of you. Your belief in us and support of Israel helps us in this time of crisis. As many of you heard a more in depth update, here I want to share a heartening update from the frontlines of our university's commitment to aiding the affected during this crisis.

Today, I had the profound privilege of visiting and witnessing the exemplary efforts of our students, the heart and sole of BGU. More than 500 of them, hailing from the fields of medicine, nursing, emergency medicine, physiotherapy and social work, have volunteered their skills and time in the Soroka University Hospital ER, to assist the thousands who have been wounded. Their dedication, paired with their academic and practical expertise, is making a tangible difference in the lives of many.

From Soroka, I traveled to the other side of Be'er Sheva where numerous other students were tirelessly coordinating a substantial logistics operation to ensure the distribution of food and vital supplies to soldiers around the Gaza area. This immense undertaking is a testament to the spirit of camaraderie, community, and humanity that defines BGU.

Seeing our students in action, navigating adversity with resilience, compassion, and unwavering commitment, fills me with immense pride. It stands as a powerful testament to the values and ethos we cherish and uphold at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. In the face of such challenges, the BGU community continues to embody hope, solidarity, and the determination to make a positive impact. Our students' endeavors are indeed a badge of pride for our beloved institution.

Until tomorrow,

Professor Daniel Chamovitz
President, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Update - Sunday, October 8

To our dear supporters and friends,

In the midst of the unfolding crisis in Israel, I am heartbroken to share a deeply personal account from Prof. Ilan Troen. Many of you know Ilan, an "old immigrant" from the US, from his involvement in the BoG, and his numerous contributions to BGU, including founding the program in Israel Studies. His family has suffered an unimaginable loss with the murder of their daughter and son-in-law during yesterday's attacks.

Yesterday, as alerts rang out, Ilan and his wife Carol were in Jerusalem, only to receive harrowing text messages from their grandson, Rotem, from Kibbutz Holit. He relayed the terrifying events as terrorists invaded, leading to the shooting of his parents who protected him till their last breath. He managed to hide for several hours amidst the chaos, surrounded by smoke and fire, narrowly escaping with a gunshot wound.
Upon arriving at Soroka University Hospital in the evening, they found Rotem. His face, arms, and hands were covered in soot, smelling of the fire that had consumed his home. The bullet, which fortunately did not harm any internal organs, was removed, and Rotem insisted on keeping it as a poignant reminder of the ordeal. He has expressed his resolve to ensure his parents live on through him. His older sisters Shir and Shakked, experienced their own horrors, hiding in a different location until they were finally rescued.

Carol's words resonate with strength and defiance: "We will be carrying this between us for the rest of our lives and we'll go on. As in the Partisan's hymn, 'our footsteps will thunder yet again - we are here' ."

Unfortunately, this is just one of numerous narratives I heard today. Far too many in our community have been transformed by unimaginable grief. The weight of this loss is magnified by the collective grief of the nation. As I share this profound sorrow, we are reminded of the resilience of the human spirit, even in the darkest of times of our history here in Israel. Our thoughts are with Ilan and Carol, the entire Troen family, and all who mourn in Zion.

I will be back tomorrow with another update.

Wishing us another quiet night,

Professor Daniel Chamovitz
President, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Update - Saturday, October 7

Dear Friends,

I hope this message finds you well, despite the challenging circumstances we currently face.

Today, as the situation in the Negev and Israel at large takes a tumultuous turn, I believe it is crucial to keep you abreast of the unfolding events and our response at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

This morning, as the first sirens pierced the calm of our holiday, our university administration was propelled into swift action, ensuring that critical information was dispatched to our students and staff without delay. I'm sure you are glued to your favorite news sources, which have detailed the gravity of the situation. Accordingly, we decided to close the university tomorrow (Sunday) and will continue to assess the situation daily.

As expected, many within our community, students, staff and faculty, have been summoned for reserve duty. This is a privilege and responsibility that is a rite of passage for Israelis who serve in the IDF (which unfortunately is not everyone). But it brings with it, in situations like this, clear worries. There will not be a family at BGU that is not connected in some way to what will unfold. We stand behind our reservists and are making all accommodations for them.

I would like to take a moment to commend our medical and paramedical teams, including many of our students, who have shown an unparalleled commitment, attending to those in need in the front lines of Soroka, Barzilai and Ashdod hospitals. Their fortitude and selflessness, a true embodiment of the BGU Spirit, shine as a beacon of hope amidst the shadows of this conflict.

It is with a heavy heart that we acknowledge the potential ramifications of this escalating situation on our community. In this hour of need, we have ensured that emotional and social support frameworks at the university stand ready to serve those grappling with the complexities of these times.

This confrontation is unique in its character and challenges. Yet, drawing from our experiences in previous conflicts and during the COVID-19 pandemic, I firmly believe in the resilience of the BGU Spirit and the Power of Together. These guiding principles will undoubtedly steer us through these turbulent waters.

To summarize our immediate actions over the past 18 hours:

  • We've been proactive since the first alarms, despite the holiday.
  • Comprehensive communications were dispatched to our academic community.
  • Emotional and social support mechanisms have been activated.
  • We elected to close our campus tomorrow.

Rest assured, our university's topmost priority is the safety and well-being of our community members. We are in continuous dialogue with security agencies to ensure that our students and faculty are shielded from harm. My commitment to you is that we will remain transparent and keep you updated as the situation at the university unfolds.

In closing, I thank you for your understanding, support, and prayers for our beloved university and for our country.

Together, we shall prevail.

Wishing us a quiet night,

Professor Daniel Chamovitz
President, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

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