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Zin Fellow Inspired by Letter from David Ben-Gurion

Zin Fellow Inspired by Letter from David Ben-Gurion

July 13, 2023

Israel Studies, Culture & Jewish Thought

Zin Fellow David Schuman recently shared with Americans for Ben-Gurion University (A4BGU) a letter his grandmother received from David Ben-Gurion in 1965, which was passed down to Schuman as a wedding gift by his Aunt. Schuman’s beloved late grandmother Jean Grossman was a noted philanthropist and a pillar of the Jewish community in Scottsdale/Phoenix, Arizona, who passed away in 2019 at 91.

Courtesy of A4BGU Zin Fellow, David Schuman

A4BGU recently spoke to Mr. Schuman about this family heirloom, and what reading it meant to him after his Zin Fellowship.

A4BGU: Can you describe your reaction to discovering David Ben-Gurion’s letter to your grandmother, and her photos with Ben-Gurion? In particular, what did it mean to you to discover these items after you experienced Ben-Gurion University firsthand as a Zin Fellow?

Schuman: I was beyond thrilled to receive it as a wedding gift. I had a vague recollection of its existence, but it was almost like family folklore. Knowing that my Grandma had a personal exchange with such an iconic Israeli figure was truly remarkable. Having just recently experienced Ben-Gurion University firsthand as a Zin Fellow, this discovery held even greater significance for me. It helped to bridge the gap between generations, and connected me to the very roots of the institution I had grown to love. It deepened my appreciation for the visionary leader who played a pivotal role in shaping the university’s values and mission.

A4BGU: What else should we know about these family heirlooms and the story behind them?

Schuman: My Grandparents usually traveled to Israel together, but on this trip my Grandmother was on a Women’s Mission. I have to imagine that it was profoundly meaningful to her to engage in these unbelievable meetings on her own.

A4BGU: Did your grandmother ever specifically mention David Ben-Gurion in a conversation with you? Even if not, what would you like to share about her special connection with Israel and the Jewish community?

Schuman: My Grandparents were profoundly passionate about the continuity of the Jewish people, and Israel’s role in that. My Grandmother told me many times that Ben Gurion was one of the best leaders of her lifetime.

A4BGU: Do you view your Zin Fellows experience as another chapter in your family’s historical connection to Israel, from generation to generation? If so, can you expand on that sentiment?

Schuman: Absolutely. I’m proud to have been raised in a family that has prioritized having connections to various Israeli institutions. I was very excited to be introduced to the Zin Fellows program because it introduced me to a new facet of Israeli life, leadership and culture. I hope that future generations of my family can be involved in the program or attend BGU.

A4BGU: Can you describe the impact that being a Zin Fellow has had on you personally?

It’s difficult to visit that campus, and not come away inspired. I haven’t experienced such passion and inspiration in a long time and that enthusiasm followed me home.