UK Legacy Mission 2012
Building on the success of Tel Aviv University's inaugural UK Living Legacy Mission in 2011, the 2012 Mission was an exciting and emotive experience for some 21 British Jews. Participants of the 2012 Mission criss-crossed campus, city and country for an array of intellectual, environmental, cultural and political experiences.
The concept behind the Living Legacy Mission – the brainchild of Geoffrey Simmonds – is that in return for leaving a bequest to TAU, participants are hosted on an intellectually stimulating trip to Israel with exclusive access to the University's most outstanding researchers and some of Israel's top leaders, politicians and security experts. Organised by the Tel Aviv University Trust – Great Britain, the Living Legacy Missions aim to widen TAU's circle of friends, enriching the University's community of supporters and ensuring its continued growth and success in the years to come, while also providing TAU the opportunity to celebrate the generosity of Legacy participants in their lifetime.
An Intellectual Kaleidoscope
From zoology in Eilat to archaeology in Beit Shean and Jewish history in Jerusalem, this year's Legacy Mission participants traversed the country, experiencing the full spectrum of Israeli innovation and expertise. Participants visited TAU ornithologist Prof. Yossi Leshem's project of using barn owl and kestrels as biological pest control agents (pictured below), listened to Maj. Gen. (ret.) Giora Eiland of the TAU-affiliated Institute for National Security Studies offer valuable insights into the regional security situation, and enjoyed guided visits to both Beth Hatefutsot - Museum of the Jewish People, and TAU's Wiener Library of Anti-Semitism archives.
Legacy participants also enjoyed a music ensemble evening at the home of General (res.) Nehemia Dagan in cooperation with the Gertler Quartet of TAU's Buchmann-Mehta School of Music, as well as Shabbat dinner with Prof. Uzi Rabi, Director of TAU's Dayan Center for Middle Eastern Studies, which provided the participants with an opportunity to ponder the complexities of the region and to mingle with graduate students in the field. Other highlights included a presentation with zoologist Dr. Roi Holzman in Eilat, a tour of the inner workings of the Knesset and meetings with Israeli parliamentarians, a visit to Bank Discount's art collection, a talk with the Deputy Governor of the Bank of Israel Dr. Karnit Flug, a lecture on combat-related post-traumatic stress in Israeli soldiers, and an intimate reception at the private home of UK Ambassador to Israel Matthew Gould.
In one of the Mission's most memorable moments, participants joined students from TAU's Department of Theater Arts in a master class held by renowned British actress and comedienne Maureen Lipman, who took part in the Legacy Mission and was one of ten 2012 TAU honorary doctorate recipients. Lipman also gave an enlightening public lecture exploring her theatrical experience and life in the arts. Both events were held in cooperation with the British Council in Israel.
In addition to this full and engrossing schedule, the 2012 Legacy Mission took part in TAU's Annual Board of Governors Meeting, attending the Honorary Doctorate conferment ceremony, and meeting star researchers and students.
In recognition of the participants' support for TAU through the Living Legacy Mission, a ceremony was held at TAU's Cymbalista Synagogue and Jewish Heritage Center, where they were invited to share their thoughts on what TAU and Israel means to them. Participants paid tribute to loved ones, the vitality of TAU and moving moments during the Mission. One participant thanked her father for "imbuing in me a deep love of Israel," and another remarked that "my wife and I have always had a love of Israel, but this mission has magnified that love." Others commented that "this trip has exceeded all expectations, and we have gained a new family here," and that TAU's emblem of a flame symbolises "enduring knowledge – of which we have been most fortunate to share in." (Pictured: Legacy Participant Stephany Sky)
Ayelet Tal, Director of TAU’s Development and Public Affairs Division, addressed the participants, remarking that "your legacies to the University ensure the continued contribution of our scientists and scholars for many years to come." Ms. Tal added that the Legacy Mission also helps strengthen the bonds between the Jews of the Diaspora and Israel.
A string trio from the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music entertained the attendees, and performed a stirring rendition of Israel's national anthem. After the ceremony, the 2012 UK Legacy Mission Honor Wall was unveiled by TAU President Joseph Klafter on campus.