LONG-TIME communal philanthropist Millie Phillips has been hailed by Israeli educators after donating almost $20 million to the Tel Aviv University (TAU) to help it attract leading researchers from across the globe, house international students and reward those who display Jewish pride.
“I love the Tel Aviv University,” the Sydney resident told The AJN this week, following her $US15 million donation.
“I didn’t have to think about it because they presented the proposal to me and I fell for it.”
Phillips said the university holds a special place in her heart as TAU engineers helped develop the Iron Dome system which protects Israel from incoming missiles and also “discovered a way to suss out underground tunnels” being built by terrorists in Gaza to attack towns near the southern border.
“They have done a lot of good work, including saving lives with their discoveries,” she said.
The donation will be split three ways. Some will help pay for the recently-built student centre, now named Millie Phillips Student City, which houses 3000 international students in eight buildings.
Another portion will be used to attract the best researchers from across the world, and the final portion will be used to recognise people who use innovation and technology to display Jewish pride and help Jewish continuity.
“Millie is a wonderful lady and a devoted friend of Tel Aviv University,” TAU president Professor Joseph Klafter told The AJN.
“She is deeply committed to the role of higher education in ensuring Israel’s safety and prosperity – and Millie Phillips Student City significantly advances this goal.
“The dormitory complex provides excellent study conditions for the future leaders, inventors and teachers of Israel.
“It also broadens opportunities for talented young people from the periphery to gain a world-class education. We are deeply grateful to Millie for her support and long-term vision.”
Boaz Nol, federal executive director of the Australian Friends of Tel Aviv University, said the gift is a huge milestone for the organisation.
“Millie’s greatest passion is for Jewish pride and Jewish contribution to the world and this extraordinary gift will reinforce TAU’s mission to nurture new generations of Israeli innovators, leaders and educators as a means of helping Israel remain strong and competitive in the global arena,” he told The AJN.
“Millie’s gift will definitely lead to the next Israeli and Jewish Nobel prize winners and we are so grateful for that. Millie is such a special woman who gives so much to our community and the State of Israel and we should all be thankful to her.”