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Sandro Rosell
FC Barcelona President
Thursday, October 19, 2017

A recent survey of students at Ben-Gurion University, the world-class research institution in Israel’s Negev desert, revealed that less than 10 percent of students expect to remain in the area after graduation, citing the dearth of employment options. Israel has made great strides in developing the Negev over the past decade, but the shortage of viable employment options remains a significant barrier to economic advancement. 

The Lauder Employment Center, which opened its doors in 2015, aims to solve that problem. The Beersheba-based hub is devoted to connecting employers, job seekers, housing and service providers, and local municipalities and government authorities. 

“The Negev is a region of ‘fantastic possibilities,’” said World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder, who, together with his family, made a major contribution to fund the employment center. “David Ben-Gurion’s prophetic vision of developing the Negev continues to capture the imagination of Israelis and Jews worldwide,” Lauder said. “But in practice, without sustainable employment opportunities, we cannot fully realize his vision.”

Counselors at the Launder Center connect a pool of attractive job applicants with prospective employers. The Center continues to invest in a growing database of employers, public authorities, housing options and quality-of-life services.

The Lauder Center, a partnership between Ben-Gurion University, the Jewish National Fund (USA), and the Lauder family, was established in the heart of Beersheba’s historic Old City, transforming one of the city’s oldest buildings into an exquisitely restored, modern facility that connects the region’s past to its future.

“The Jewish National Fund was proud to take up the challenge of transforming Beersheba and the Negev region,” said Russell Robinson, CEO of the Jewish National Fund (USA). “The Lauder family has led the way, motivating many more donors by setting such a strong example of generosity and vision.”

The Lauder Center serves the Negev’s diverse and vibrant communities, including new immigrants and an array of Bedouin communities. 

For Ben-Gurion University, the center has strengthened its links to Beersheba and the broader region, and has helped it address the biggest challenge facing graduates who want to stay in the region. 

For JNF, the Lauder Center is a tangible fulfillment of its long-term “Blueprint Negev” campaign, a multi-year effort that has generated significant building and civic improvements in and around Beersheba.

The Lauder family continues to plan for further investments in Beersheba. “Our commitment is long-term and we will continue to build there, in partnership with the local community,” said Mr. Lauder, whose philanthropy throughout Israel focuses on the intersection of economic development and higher education. In addition to the Lauder Center in the Negev, the Lauder family sponsors the Lauder School of Government at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya and recently made a multi-million-dollar gift to the Technion for the building of new, state-of-the-art student residential facility. 

“Our family’s attachment to and love of Israel is central to our identity,” said Mr. Lauder. “We are proud to be partners with so many of Israel’s leading institutions in building for the Jewish State’s future.”

(photos: Noa Grayevsky)