Sapir College looks overseas for help

Exclusive: Campus in Kassam-ravaged western Negev appeals to world Jewry.

sapir college 88 (photo credit: )
sapir college 88
(photo credit: )
Just outside Sderot, Sapir Academic College is looking to world Jewry for help in continuing the college's growth despite seven years of daily Kassam rocket barrages. With the largest campus of any college in Israel, Sapir "is an anchor of pride for the whole area, with a lively campus and cultural events for local residents," college president Prof. Ze'ev Tzahor told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday. Since the rockets started coming in 2000, the college has doubled in size. With 12 institutions housed in dozens of buildings, including an elementary school, high school, pre-army institutions and more, employing some 10,000 people, the college has become a mainstay of western Negev life. "We didn't burn tires and we didn't run and cry [to the government]," Tzahor said. "We worked on growth. And now, that's all we're asking - no pity, no bomb shelters, but new academic programs, funds for first-rate scholars, including from overseas, and scholarships for students." Sapir is looking for help in two areas. To maintain growth in its student body, it needs NIS 30 million for half-tuition scholarships and for growing its academic programs. And it is looking for another NIS 50m., part of it already obtained from the state, to fortify its classrooms against rockets. In a Sunday meeting between Tzahor, a representative of the college's 8,000-strong student body and Jewish Agency Treasurer Hagai Merom, Merom heard that enrollment for the upcoming 5768 (2007-08) academic year had been severely hurt by the attacks. "We're looking into scholarship opportunities that will allow the college to open the academic year," Merom told the Post. "Our conversation was about mobilizing North American communities for immediate help. I'm taking this [request] with me, [I] will discuss the matter with [Jewish Agency chairman Ze'ev] Bielski and put out an urgent request to help the college."