On Monday, May 12th, UJA Federation of Greater Toronto Federation dedicated the first student dormitories on the campus of the Eilat branch of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. The dorms were built at a cost of $4.5 million, including an initial $2.3 million grant from UJA Federation, which is twinned with the Eilat region through the Jewish Agency's Partnership 2000 program. Additional funding for the dorms came from the Rashi Foundation, Ben-Gurion University and the Eilat municipality. About 1,100 students are enrolled at the Eilat branch of BGU. About 75 percent of them come from outside the city to study.
The first group of 72 students is scheduled to move into the dorms, which feature LCD televisions and wireless Internet access, for the fall semester. In the summer months the dorm rooms will be rented out to tourists.
Several additional residential halls are planned, with a total capacity of 500 students.
UJA Federation of Greater Toronto has been supporting educational and public health projects in Eilat for many years. The organization initiated the dormitory project after students complained about difficulties in finding affordable housing in Eilat. It is hoped that the new dorms will help to attract more students from outside Eilat to the university as well as to provide a campus atmosphere.
A delegation of 32 major donors and community leaders from Canada came to Eilat for the dedication ceremony. During the Federation's visit to the city, the organization announced that it was providing scholarships to 303 university students in Eilat.
"Through the construction of the dorms, and providing a roof for students, we complete the circle of aid to the students in Eilat,” said Ted Sokolsky, UJA Federation of Greater Toronto’s President & CEO. “We provide above 500 scholarships for students on campus, so that they'll have the opportunity to get a higher education."