Jerusalem, Israel, May 15 – The 2014 Nefesh B’Nefesh Bonei Zion Prizes were awarded today at an official ceremony in the Knesset, hosted by the Speaker of the Knesset MK Yuli (Yoel) Edelstien. Nefesh B’Nefesh works in partnership with the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, The Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael and JNF USA to assist Olim from North America and the UK with their Aliyah.
The recipients of the Prize were: Joseph Gitler, Founder and Chairman of Leket Israel; Rabbanit Malke Bina, Founder and Chancellor of “Matan”; Yosef Abramowitz, CEO and Co-Founder of Energiya Global Capital and Co-Founder of the Arava Power Company; Professor Jeffrey Hausdorff of Tel Aviv University and Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center; Yaakov Kirschen, Creator of “Dry Bones”; and Lt. Nira Lee, Head of Hasbara at the headquarters of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT). Each of the winners was awarded a $10,000 prize. A special lifetime achievement prize was awarded to Professor Shimon Glick, Professor and Dean Emeritus of the Faculty of Health Sciences at Ben Gurion University of the Negev.
Hundreds of Olim from English-speaking countries – including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, UK, and USA – were nominated for the prize. The prize recipients were chosen by a prestigious panel of committee members in the following categories: Science & Medicine; Education; Community & Non-Profit; Entrepreneurship & Technology; Culture, Sports & Art; and IDF & National Service Young Leadership.
“Since its establishment, the State of Israel has absorbed millions of immigrants from numerous countries, immigrants who speak various languages and have rich cultural background. Nowadays, it is impossible to imagine Israeli society without the involvement of the new Olim in every possible sphere,” said Edelstein. “The Knesset is proud to host the award ceremony for this noteworthy prize, which I hope will become a traditional reward for Olim who excel in their contribution to the State of Israel and its society.”
“We are honored to be holding the inaugural Bonei Zion award ceremony in the Knesset,” said Nefesh B’Nefesh Co-Founder and Executive Director Rabbi Yehoshua Fass. “Aliyah from English-speaking countries has contributed significantly to Israeli society and the State of Israel, and this prize represents a formal recognition of its impact. We hope that highlighting the achievements of Anglo Olim who are helping to make a difference to our homeland, will serve as a catalyst to inspire others to make Aliyah.”
Below are details about the 2014 Nefesh B’Nefesh Bonei Zion Prize recipients:
- Community and Non-Profit: Joseph Gitler (USA, 2000), Founder and Chairman of Leket Israel, a national food bank which has made a profound impact on the State of Israel and its residents by collecting food soon to be discarded from farmers, manufacturers and caterers and distributes them to the needy. Through Gitler’s vision, Leket Israel provides food for over 140,000 people weekly.
- Education: Rabbanit Malke Bina (USA, 1971), Founder and Chancellor of “Matan”, a revolutionary women’s learning center in Israel. Bina was one of the first educators in Israel to teach female students Talmud and Halacha (Jewish law), imbuing them with Zionism and a love for Torah learning. Bina helped revolutionize Israeli society’s views on women’s status and top level Jewish studies for women. As a result tens of thousands of women have been trained to become scholars and leaders in their communities.
- Entrepreneurship and Technology: Yosef Abramowitz (USA, 2006), CEO and Co-Founder of Energiya Global Capital and Co-Founder of the Arava Power Company, is a Nobel Prize-nominated educator and activist-turned-solar energy entrepreneur as well as founding father of Israel’s $10 billion solar market. He is Israel’s premier solar energy pioneer, who continues to develop Israel’s solar power market while also exporting his values of clean energy. He embodies positive and powerful Hasbara as he showcases Israel through his renewable energy development for the betterment of the world.
- Science and Medicine: Professor Jeffrey Hausdorff (USA, 2000), Professor at Tel Aviv University and Director of the Neurodynamics and Gait Research Laboratory at the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center. Since leaving his faculty appointment at Harvard Medical School in 2000 to make Aliyah, Professor Hausdorff has made remarkable contributions to research in Neuroscience and Aging in Israel and worldwide, and established the Neurodynamics and Gait Research Laboratory at the Tel Aviv Medical Center. The internationally renowned team that he directs conducts pioneering and award-winning clinical and translational research in mobility, cognitive function, fall risk, and quality of life. His cutting-edge findings have been advancing science and medicine throughout the world, spreading the good name of Israel with them.
- Culture, Sports and Arts: Yaakov Kirschen (USA, 1972), Creator of “Dry Bones”. Since its inception in the Jerusalem Post in 1973, Kirschen’s beloved comic strip “Dry Bones” has provided a quintessentially Zionist, satirical and unique view of Israel to the world. Kirschen’s work speaks to Anglo Jews around the globe and has spread a deeper and stronger feeling for Israel and Zionism.
- IDF and National Service Young Leadership: Lt. Nira Lee (USA, 2010), Head of Hasbara at the headquarters of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT). Lt. Lee, an Arizona native, has been serving in the IDF for the past three years. In her previous position as assistant foreign liaison officer to international organizations in Gaza, she was charged with ensuring that international humanitarian aid makes it to the Palestinian civilians in Gaza and overseeing the movement of international organizations inside the buffer zone and the commercial visits to the Israel-Gaza border. Her outstanding service during Operation Pillar of Defense earned her the prestigious President’s Citation of Excellence in 2013. Her dedication and determination were noted by all those around her.
- Lifetime Achievement: Professor Shimon Glick (USA, 1974), Professor and Dean Emeritus of the Faculty of Health Sciences at Ben Gurion University. A lifetime achievement award was also bestowed on Professor Shimon Glick who made Aliyah after leaving a successful career in the USA to help found Ben Gurion University’s Faculty of Medicine. He specializes in endocrinology research and treatment and is a world leader in the teaching and practice of medical humanism and medical ethics. He also developed the curriculum in medical ethics at BGU. Prof. Glick continues to serve as a role model for students worldwide as he continues to be extremely active in his 80’s.
The selection committee members include:
- Lieutenant General (Ret.) Gabi Ashkenazi – Former Chief of Staff of the IDF
- Colette Avital – Israeli diplomat and Former Minister of Knesset
- Ambassador Yehuda Avner – Author and former diplomat and prime ministerial advisor.
- Dr. David Breakstone – Vice Chairman of the World Zionist Organization
- Michael Eisenberg – Partner at Aleph venture capital fund and General Partner at Benchmark Capital
- Rabbi Paul Freedman – USCJ Director Israel Strategic Partnerships
- David Gerstein – Internationally renowned painter and sculptor.
- Barbara Goldstein – Deputy Executive Director of Hadassah, Israel
- Vera Golovensky – Senior Advisor to the Chairman of the Executive Jewish Agency for Israel
- Professor Jonathan Halevy – Director General of Shaare Zedek Medical Center
- David Horovitz – Founding editor of The Times of Israel
- Russell Robinson – CEO of the Jewish National Fund (JNF)
- Gabriella Shalev – Former Ambassador to the UN, and President of the Higher Academic Council and Dean of the Law School at Ono Academic College
- Dr. Chaim Waxman – Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Jewish Studies at Rutgers University, Senior Fellow at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, and Research Fellow at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Harry S. Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace.
- Rabbi Berel Wein – Founder & director of The Destiny Foundation