Thousands Arrive in Sdeh Boker to Greet Ben Gurion on 84th Birthday

The desert village of Sdeh Boker was the scene of a major traffic jam yesterday as thousands of Israelis came on foot, in cars and by helicopter to personally greet former Prime Minister David Ben Gurion on his 84th birthday. Mr. Ben Gurion, making one of his rare appearances wearing a tie, welcomed the well-wishers outside a succah near the Negev school that he helped found. He said that the 64 years during which he has lived in Israel had taught him entirely new concepts of Zionism, Socialism and the Bible. The parade of dignitaries was headed by President Zalman Shazar who addressed the inaugural meeting of the newly established council of the Sdeh Boker College of which Mr. Ben Gurion was elected president. Others included Defense Minister Moshe Dayan who flew down by helicopter, Minister of Justice, Yaacov Shimshon Shapiro, Labor Minister Yosef Almogi. Minister of Transport, Shimon Peres. Gen. Aric Sharon, and chief Army chaplain Rabbi Shlomo Goren. Mr. Ben Gurion received a telegram of birthday greetings from Premier Golda Meir who was on her way to the United States yesterday. President Shazar expressed the hope that the new Negev college would be a cross between Oxford, “the center of international studies” and Yavneh, “the center of Jewish studies.” He said that whatever name the new institution is given, it will always be known as Ben Gurion’s college.

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