(photo credit: KKL-JNF)
An upgraded educational compound and a film presentation were inaugurated on Sunday (August 14th, 2011) at Ben-Gurion’s Desert Home in Kibbutz Sde Boker. Both the compound and the film production were funded by donations from Friends of JNF in Ottawa, Canada at the 2009 Negev Dinner, which was held in honor of Sara Vered and in memory of her late husband Zeev Vered.
The educational compound comprises four instruction centers where visitors will gather to learn about the site and the legacy of this Israeli leader. The film presentation allows viewers to meet Ben-Gurion at his home in Sde Boker and listen to his account of historic events in the annals of the State and his own life. The screenplay uses David Ben-Gurion’s own words to describe eight historic scenes. Particular emphasis is placed on his special relationship with the Negev and his vision of settling it and making the desert bloom.
The inauguration of the education compound began with a tour of the site, which gave the guests an opportunity to learn something of Ben-Gurion’s character. The modest cabin where he lived provides a rare glimpse into aspects of his life inaccessible through books or the Internet.
Over 80,000 people visit Ben-Gurion’s cabin every year. Among them are large numbers of soldiers, students, tourists and families. Now, thanks to the new instruction center, these visits will become an unforgettable learning experience.
Paula and David Ben-Gurion’s cabin at Kibbutz Sde Boker has been preserved just as it was on the day of his death in 1973. The guard hut nearby contains an exhibition documenting Ben-Gurion’s close connection with the Negev, while the courtyard hosts three activity centers focusing on his links with KKL-JNF: a sand map, two relief maps of the Negev and a rope game.
The inauguration ceremony was attended by Sara Vered, together with a large group of family members from both Israel and Canada. Many friends and supporters from both countries were also in attendance.
Professor Avigad Vonshak, Director of the Ben-Gurion Heritage Institute, described Israel’s first prime minister as representing the marriage of leadership with solidarity and social responsibility. “We Negev residents have been given a remarkable opportunity to bring together Jews from Israel and the Diaspora, because of the rare cooperation between us,” said Professor Vonshak at the ceremony. “We undertake to do everything in our power to justify the trust you have placed in us.”
KKL-JNF Head of Protocol Andy Michelson, who was master of ceremonies for the event, said that the presence of so many members of Sara Vered’s family, including her grandchildren, symbolized the passing of the torch from one generation to the next.
The main speaker at the event was former Minister of Education Aharon Yadlin, a member of Kibbutz Hatzerim who sits on the Ben-Gurion Heritage Institute’s Board of Directors. “Ben-Gurion can serve as an inspiration to us all as we face the challenges of the present and the future,” he said. “He was not just the bold visionary of the State – he was also the builder who designed it and brought about its foundation.”
Sara Vered concluded the inaugural proceedings with a moving speech in which
she recalled the Negev Dinner of two years ago. This event is a Canadian tradition that brings together Friends of KKL-JNF in eleven cities throughout the country and raises funds for a variety of projects in Israel. Her message to those present was expressed in a quote borrowed from Ben-Gurion: “Every person possesses tremendous hidden strengths, which need to be discovered and put to use.”
These words from Israel’s first prime minister would appear to apply to Sara herself, who has found her own hidden strengths and used them for the common good. She added: “How wonderful it is that we have such a great country, of which we can all be proud.”
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