Shai Doron, President of The Jerusalem Foundation, Speaks at the Dedication of the Taube Family Campus Entrance Plaza

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Good morning. See, this is the difference. I’m just the president of The Jerusalem Foundation. The president of Israel allows himself to speak in Hebrew, and it’s not my mother tongue, English, as you know, so I will do my best.

But two remarks before I go back to my notes. It’s a big mistake to speak after Naamah and Andrew and the power behind you. It’s unbelievable. So I will do my best. But I can tell you, Naamah spoke about miracles; if you don’t know me, when we started the journey, most of us, we had long blonde hair with blue eyes, but we lost it.

Night after night, especially in the last few weeks, I came incognito here and it’s hard to believe that we are here, almost done, almost. It’s a great honor for me to stand here on behalf of The Jerusalem Foundation and to speak to you. Thank you for the privilege to be your real partners. For us at The Jerusalem Foundation, it’s much more than a capital project. For us, it’s a real partnership that stands in the base of our activity in the city.

Others would say it’s not an easy day for Israel. It’s not simple days for Jerusalem. For me, it’s real – complains, worries, despair. It’s not working. And this is exactly why our partnership is so important. We at The Jerusalem Foundation believe that our biggest asset, our biggest asset in Jerusalem, it’s our Jerusalem diversity. This is what makes us so inspired by the city. And in this mosaic, a mosaic of Jerusalem, you, the Hebrew Union College, have a huge role. Jerusalem needs you. You don’t need Jerusalem; Jerusalem needs you. In the partnership between HUC and The Jerusalem Foundation, it’s not about Judaism, not about the programs for the rabbinical studies, not about the bet midrash or the shul. Our partnership should be in the fields of shared living in Jerusalem.

The educator lunch that Andrew mentioned earlier, it’s only one example of the activity in those fields of shared living in Jerusalem. Together, we can build and create a much better city. I want for you to remember, Jerusalem needs you. Jerusalem needs you with a clear and loud voice. We need you. We need your voice, out of the campus, especially now. The new plaza already looks nice, even more than looks nice. For sure, it will be nicer when everything will be completed. But you have the responsibility that this plaza is really going to be open, to invite everyone to go through the gate. It’s quite easy to hide behind this new wall. It’s easy to hide, and maybe sometimes it’s even a feeling of safety to hide behind this wall. But as I told you, you have the responsibility to make your voice heard in Jerusalem and in Israel. I really hope that together with this new plaza, your activity in partnership with us will grow, will expand, and will be relevant and reach wide and diverse communities.

I would like to thank the Taube family for their support. I would like to thank our partners, Andrew Rehfeld, the president, Naamah and Dganit. It was really a great pleasure to work with you. I would like to really thank you for your leadership and the trust that you gave us during the difficult days of doing this project. I would like especially to thank our Jerusalem Foundation team, headed by Omri Ben-Ami, who is sitting here, Roi Singer, the architect, Shai Shachar, the engineer, and the entire team that really put us in this place together this morning. And I would like to mention another one, the shadchan, the matchmaker, between the HUC and The Jerusalem Foundation, Professor David Herman, my closest friend. I think that on behalf of all of us, I would like to wish him a speedy recovery and I hope to see him very soon, here and in other places in the city. Thank you all, and mazal tov.