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Morley and Marjorie Blankstein

Mr. Hartley Richardson and Mrs. Heather Richardson with friends Mr. Sandy Riley and Mrs. Debbie Riley; Ms. Deborah Thorlakson; Dr. Alan Menkis; Mrs. Karen Menkis; Mr. Rick Reiss

Canadian Associates of Ben-Gurion University's Gala Luncheon Honouring Marjorie and Morley Blankstein is Huge Success

by Rhonda Spivak, May 23, 2014

[Editor's note: On a personal note, I want to congratulate Marjorie and Morley Blankstein on being honoured by the Canadian Associates of Ben-Gurion University. They are community leaders of the highest ranking. Not only are they generous philanthropist but they are very giving of their time and wise advice. I can think of no more deserving honourees. Mazel Tov to you both. May you go from strength to strength. And another Mazel Tov to Marjorie Blankstein who will receive an Honourary Doctorate from the University of Manitoba on June 3, 2014]


The gala luncheon in honour of distinguished philanthropists and renowned pillars of the community Marjorie and Morley Blankstein put on by Canadian Associates of Ben Gurion University on Sunday May 4, 2014 at the Fairmont Hotel was a major success, attracting some 360 people.


The money raised by the event, which grossed $460,000  is earmarked to financing the "the Cyber Security Labs and Malware Analysis" at Ben-Gurion University, which  is intended to place Israel at the forefront in the ongoing battle against  relentless cyber attacks , a new and venomous form of warfare. The amount raised at the luncheon is an especially noteworthy achievement given that CABGU has not held a large event in Winnipeg for many years.


Prof Yuval Elovichi, the founder and head of the Cyber Security Labs at BGU, who was the keynote speaker for the event explained that Israel is subject to "10,000 attempted [cyber] attacks per minute" designed to infiltrate and sabotage civilian and military infrastructure.


"The plan is for Ben-Gurion University to be one of the world's leaders in applied cyber security research," he said.


Elovichi added that a $12.1 million investment by the German firm, Deutsche Telekom, in 2008 served as the springboard for the development of cutting edge cyber security research at BGU, an investment which has now grown to over $45 million.


In her remarks at the luncheon, honouree Marjorie Blankstein who has travelled to Israel with Morley 31 times, recalled her meeting with Israel's first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion at his home in Sde Boker and the vision for the Negev and the State of Israel that he laid out to her at that time. As she said:


"I did meet David Ben-Gurion, 40 odd years ago, at his home, in the Negev. He told our group from the International Council of Jewish Women, (I was representing the National Council of Jewish Women of Canada).He told us that his three wishes for the State of Israel were "People, Water, and Peace" - still very valid wishes today. He had a vision for realizing the potential for people in the Negev, the largest relatively uninhabited land area in Israel, and the vital role of the Ben-Gurion University [BGU] in making this happen. And his vision is coming to fruition."


Marjorie then spoke of the importance of the cyber security research at BGU: 


"Recently the BGU and the National Cyber Bureau signed an 8.5 million dollar agreement to create a national centre for the protection of cyberspace. This will significantly advance academic cyber security research in Israel and cyber security in Israel and in the free world. Ber-Sheva is fast becoming Israel's cyber city with the Ben-Gurion University as the centre of this growth."



Marjorie concluded her remarks saying that " We feel fortunate, honoured, and privileged to be able to assist this outstanding University in strengthening cyber securi†y research so important for Israel and beyond."


BGU 's Cyber Security Institute is part of its huge "Advanced Technology Park,"  Recently  the Israel Defence Forces moved their training and intelligence bases to the Negev, and, as Elovichi suggested, the synergy between industry, academia, and the military is bound to pay off huge dividends for the State of Israel. 


In his remarks at the luncheon, Morley Blankstein retraced the steps taken by he and Marjorie "in arriving here today, in support of the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev."


As Morley, outlined the couple's first visit to the new State of Israel took place on a Jewish National Fund trip in 1962.


"I recall some key visits and sites which relate to our presence here today. First on visiting the divided city of Jerusalem and seeing the Jordanian soldiers behind sand bags and barbed wire, and them looking at us. And then on our bus journey south to Eilat, through the rugged mountains and sandy desert, visiting the location of the early Nabotean civilization where their agriculture prospered collecting their minimal rainfall and morning dew. On returning north from Eilat we had an over-night stop at the commercial centre of the Negev, Ber-Sheba with its camel trading market. These were lasting and important images. Subsequently, I became involved with the Technion in Haifa and learned of the importance of education and technology in and to Israel.



Ben-Gurion University's presence in Ber-Sheba has resulted in many lasting changes in this vital area of Israel, and we are proud to be participating in this process, and very pleased to see you all here today assisting us with this project."


The Blanksteins were introduced by Nora Kaufman (whose sister is married to Marjorie's brother). Nora spoke of how she had introduced the Blanksteins when they were honoured by the JNF, 20 years earlier, but joked that she "couldn't commit" to introducing then 20 years from now. Kaufman referred to Morley's "distinguished career as an architect" and his noted "community involvement," and also referred to Marjorie as being "a professional volunteer.” She spoke of the the many and varied local causes  which have been supported by the Blanksteins, including  the Rady JCC (named for Marjorie’s parents, Max and Rose Rady); the Canadian Museum for Human Rights; the United Way; St. Boniface Hospital; and the Arthur V. Mauro Centre for Peace and Justice.



In the closing portion of his remarks, Morley Blankstein thanked the Premier of Manitoba Greg Selinger for his kind remarks, as well as thanking co-chair persons, Kim and Bob Silver for planning and developing the event, along with  Honourary Patrons,Yhetta Gold, Arthur Mauro, and Tannis and George Richardson.  He also thanked the master of ceremonies, "my cousin Jim Carr", the Manitoba President of the Associates of BGU, Sheldon Zamick, and the Organizing and Luncheon Committees. Morley also gave thanks to Gary Fine the President of the Cdn. Associates of BGU, who came in from Montreal for the event, as well as Mark Mendelson the CEO of the CABGU, and Ariel Karabelnicoff, Executive Director of the Winnipeg office, Ariel Karabelnicoff and his assistant Yale Michaels "for the outstanding job they have done to make this such a wonderful event."


Morley gave special thanks to the couple's children and grandchildren and visiting family, " nephew Murray ,his wife Ellen and son Jeremy Blankstein from Toronto, our son Max from Toronto, our daughter Linda and our grandson  Deniz from Vancouver, " as well as to all of the guests for supporting the worthy cause.


Greetings at the event were brought from the Government of Canada by Shelley Glover, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages.



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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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