Chella and Moise Safra Inaugurate a Gate to the Future Thursday, June 18, 2009
Major portal to TAU's future Student City complex will lead to Safra-funded dormitory
It is more than a mere entryway. The Chella and Moise Safra Gate, inaugurated on May 19, 2009, during Tel Aviv University's annual Board of Governors meeting, is a literal and symbolic gateway to enriched student life on campus.
A dignified aesthetic enhancement to the area, the gate will be an essential portal to TAU's Student City, a much-needed 2,300-bed housing complex for underprivileged students and young faculty members soon to be built, in part through an exceptionally generous donation from the Safra family.
The Safras' contribution will fund the first of Student City's eight dormitories, The Chella and Moise Safra Building, for which the cornerstone was laid near a lush eucalyptus tree last May. Thanks to the family's foresight and generosity, the dormitory will provide needy students — especially those from marginalized communities with homes far from campus — access to a TAU education.
Expanding the future
Those present for the ribbon-cutting ceremony, at which Moise Safra mounted a mezuzah on the gate, included Tel Aviv University's resident architect Yoram Eldan.
On behalf of her family, Chella Safra spoke about the importance of the international donor community, graciously thanked her fellow TAU supporters, and stressed that support for academia is support for Israel. "Here you build and shape the future of the nation," Mrs. Safra said.
In his remarks, Tel Aviv University President Prof. Galil said proudly, "Today, as we inaugurate this impressive landmark, we thank you both for your generosity and friendship."
Robert Goldberg, Chairman of TAU's Board of Governors, called the university "fortunate to have the Safras in the Tel Aviv University family. Moise Safra understands the needs of the university, and we very much appreciate his vision."
A gift that mirrors antiquity
Before the mezuzah was mounted on the gate, Prof. Pinchas Alpert, head of the Porter School for Environmental Studies, blessed the Safra family, and compared their gesture to one of faith. He quoted the Talmud on Nikanor, who vowed to prevent the new Temple gates from being thrown into the sea when they were en route from Egypt to Jerusalem. Recounting a miracle during the storm at sea they survived, he stressed that Nikanor was prepared to give everything — even his life — to protect the gates of the Temple, later named for him.
"I believe Chella and Moise Safra knew about Nikanor's Gates, and that may be one of the reasons they've made this contribution," Prof. Alpert said. "We pray that many thousands of students and teachers from all over the world will come through it to learn at Tel Aviv University."
Philanthropic leadership writ large
Moise Safra is a well-known banker, a member of a highly respected family of bankers with global business and industrial interests that have included the Israeli mobile communications giant, Cellcom.
Chella Safra is deeply engaged in charitable activities, and was an active member of the board of The Jewish Agency for Israel for five years. She is currently president of the women's division of Keren Hayessod in Sao Paulo.
The Safra family is renowned for its visionary philanthropic activities in Brazil, Israel and around the world, donating to education, culture, and communal institutions such as hospitals and orphanages through numerous Jewish and secular organizations. They actively support organizations committed to social education and the promotion of Jewish causes, especially in Sephardic communities around the world.