Nefesh B’Nefesh Honors 2017 Bonei Zion Prize Recipients at Knesset Ceremony
The Sylvan Adams Nefesh B’Nefesh Bonei Zion Prize is awarded to inspirational English-speaking Olim who have significantly contributed to the State of Israel
JERUSALEM, June 26, 2017 – Nefesh B’Nefesh honored the nine recipients of the 2017 Sylvan Adams Nefesh B’Nefesh Bonei Zion Prize today, Monday, June 26th at a special ceremony at the Knesset in the presence of Minister of Regional Cooperation, Tzachi Hanegbi, Minister of Aliyah and Integration, Sofa Landver and additional dignitaries. The award recognizes Olim (immigrants) from English-speaking countries who have made a major impact on the State of Israel.
“In every professional field across the country, English-speaking Olim are making incredible contributions to the State of Israel and Israeli society, with their innovation, passion and drive to advance the Jewish people,” said Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Nefesh B’Nefesh. “Each year that we award the Bonei Zion recipients with this prize, I am increasingly honored and amazed by the achievements of these Olim, and the astonishing impact they are having on the country.”
Hundreds of people gathered at the Knesset for the ceremony, and heard from Nefesh B’Nefesh leadership, in addition to Minister’s Hanegbi and Landver, on the remarkable impact English-speaking Olim have made to the State of Israel over the years. This year’s recipients were chosen by a prestigious panel of committee members in a variety of fields, including: Science & Medicine; Community & Non-Profit; Education; Israel Advocacy; Arts, Culture & Sports; and Young Leadership.
Minister Hanegbi has been deeply inspired by English-speaking Olim, and their commitment to strengthen the Jewish State and global Jewry as Olim to Israel.
“Being the husband of an Olah Chadasha (new immigrant) who made Aliyah at 19 years old, I know how challenging but how exciting it is to be an Oleh and to get adjusted to Israeli society and contribute to this great country,” said Hanegbi. “We see the headlines in the media and in the newspapers…about terrorism that never stops really. But all these issues are not as important as this event and Aliyah as a whole. The fact that Israel is still attracting people from all over the world to come – people with optimism, vision and hope – this is the answer. This is the most effective answer to our enemies and those who wish our demise. Thank you to Nefesh B’Nefesh and these prize recipients, you should all be proud of everything that you have achieved.”
The 2017 Bonei Zion recipients include:
- Professor Benjamin W. Corn, Head of the Institute of Radiotherapy at Ichilov Hospital in the field of Science and Medicine
- Beth Steinberg, Director and Co-Founder of Shutaf Inclusion Programs and Artistic Director and Co-Founder of Theater in the Rough in the field of Community and Non-Profit
- Rabbi Chaim Brovender, Founder and Rosh Yeshiva of WebYeshiva.org in the field of Education
- Professor Gerald Steinberg, President of NGO Monitor and Professor of Political Studies at Bar Ilan University in the field of Israel Advocacy
- Yoram Raanan, Contemporary Jewish Artist in the field of Arts, Culture & Sports
- Captain Libby Weiss, Head of the Social Media Department in the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit in the field of Young Leadership
- Scott Neiss, Founder and Executive Director of the Israel Lacrosse Association in the field of Young Leadership
In addition, Professor Eliezer Jaffe z”l, who recently passed away, received a Lifetime Achievement Award for his accomplishments in nonprofit and philanthropic giving, raising awareness and support for Israeli citizens in need. Professor Alice Shalvi also received a Lifetime Achievement Award for her outstanding contributions in shaping the status of women in Israel through education and advocacy. She was the founding chairwoman of the Israel Women’s Network, an organization dedicated to advancing the status of women in Israel and has been a leading figure in a variety of social movements, peace and inter-religious dialogues and feminist activities, in both establishment and non-governmental frameworks.
Attached please find a photo of recipients from the ceremony. Photo credit to Shahar Azran.
Notes to Editor
Details of the 2017 Nefesh B’Nefesh Bonei Zion Prize recipients:
Science & Medicine – Professor Benjamin W. Corn has been the head of the Institute of Radiotherapy at Tel Aviv Medical Center (Ichilov Hospital) for 14 years and has 30 years of experience in utilizing radiation therapy to treat tumors. He has been an integral contributor to the revolution in therapeutic sophistication that has stimulated the directors-general of the major hospitals in Israel to take notice and erect high-end linear accelerators in their institutions. He convinced the leadership of the National Cancer Institute in the U.S. to globalize their collaborative radiation-related research. Thus, Israel became the first international member of the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG – the arm of the NCI responsible for radiation research) and Corn chairs the international committee of the RTOG that has now expanded to include over 50 member countries, including Japan, Ireland, Peru, Australia and Saudi Arabia. In addition, he is the chairman of Life’s Door, an organization co-founded with his wife Dvora, which has led the movement of integrating spirituality into healthcare as a platform to offer hope and meaning for people facing serious disease and life’s end. Over 10,000 people in the State of Israel have been directly helped by the programs of this NGO. Through lectures and writing, Ben has been an “ambassador” who proudly showcases “blue and white” innovation in healthcare to the medical and biopharmaceutical communities worldwide. Prof. Corn made Aliyah from Pennsylvania, USA in 1997.
Community & Non-Profit – Together with Miriam Avraham, a veteran Olah from the USA, Beth Steinberg founded Shutaf Inclusion Programs in Jerusalem, an innovative, informal-education program for children, teens and young people, with and without disabilities. Close to 300 participants, ages 6-23, enjoy inclusive, year-round activities: Day camps during Hannukah, Pesach and August vacations; Young Leadership Programs for teens and young adults; Interactive Inclusion-Accelerator Workshops; Parent and family gatherings. Shutaf is a place of complete acceptance and inclusion for participants of all abilities, and from all religious and cultural backgrounds. Beth has also been part of Jerusalem’s active English-language cultural scene, co-founding Theater in the Rough (TiTR), with her eldest son, Natan Skop, and Toby Trachtman, in 2010. TiTR is dedicated to bringing quality, affordable and engaging theatrical experiences to Jerusalem audiences including summer Shakespeare in a Jerusalem park. The initiative represents the best of the age-old tradition of local theater coupled with training and developing talented actors with a community mindset. TiTR’s summer Shakespeare offerings have attracted thousands of English language- theater enthusiasts from all over Israel to Bloomfield Gardens, where longtime and budding fans of the Bard enjoy classical theater presented free and out of doors, accessible to all. It is arts for the people, by the people. Beth made Aliyah from New York, USA in 2006.
Education – Rabbi Chaim Brovender stands at the forefront of Torah-learning programs for thousands who have come to Israel to explore their Judaism, and has created opportunities for people around the world to enhance their Jewish identity and connection to Israel. Starting in 1967, Rabbi Brovender began teaching American students who were making their way to Jerusalem following the Six Day War. Soon after, Rabbi Brovender established Yeshivat HaMivtar for men, teaching Torah to beginners in an open, intellectual environment. At the same time, with the founding of Michlelet Bruria (today, Midreshet Lindenbaum), he revolutionized Torah study for women by introducing in-depth textual study and Talmud to their learning, paving the way for other yeshiva-style institutions for women. From the Yom Kippur War through the late 1980s, Rabbi Brovender also served in the IDF Rabbinate. In 1999, he founded ATID, the Academy for Torah Initiatives and Directions in Jewish Education, as an independent institution to train the future leadership of Jewish educators, and to invigorate the field through the production and dissemination of new visions and strategies to deal with the critical issues they faced. In 2007, Rabbi Brovender launched WebYeshiva.org, the first online, interactive Yeshiva. The purpose of the project was to make Torah-learning accessible to Jews from around the world, by offering courses taught by quality teachers to students of all levels. WebYeshiva offers classes around the clock as well as a vast library of recorded lessons. Rabbi Brovender made Aliyah from New York, USA in 1965.
Israel Advocacy — Professor Gerald Steinberg is president of NGO Monitor and a professor of Political Studies at Bar Ilan University, where he founded the Program on Conflict Management and Negotiation. His research interests include international relations, Middle East diplomacy and security, the politics of human rights and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), Israeli politics and arms control. Prof. Steinberg founded NGO Monitor following the 2001 UN World Conference Against Racism in Durban South Africa, where powerful NGOs, claiming to promote human rights, hijacked the principles of morality and international law. NGO Monitor provides information and analysis, promotes accountability, and supports discussion on the reports and activities of NGOs claiming to advance human rights and humanitarian agendas. In 2013, NGO Monitor was awarded the Menachem Begin Prize. Steinberg has published numerous academic articles, as well as books and review essays, and received a prestigious Israel Science Foundation research grant. In addition, his op-ed columns have been published in The Wall St. Journal, Financial Times, The Jerusalem Post, and elsewhere. Prof. Steinberg made Aliyah from Massachusetts, USA in 1982.
Arts, Culture and Sports — Yoram Raanan is one of Israel’s most successful contemporary Jewish artists. Inspired by the land of Israel’s beauty, heritage and people, Raanan’s art has brought him international acclaim. He currently has paintings on exhibit at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Jerusalem, the Wolfson Museum of Jewish Art in Jerusalem, and in museums, galleries and private collections around the world. Raanan’s paintings are an expression of Jewish collective consciousness, and contain a strong sense of light, depth, color and spirituality. His work often reflects the Bible, nature, and the Land of Israel. Raanan came to Israel in the 1970s as part of a journey through the world, exploring nature and culture. He arrived with only a backpack and a little money in his pocket, and was met with enthusiastic, intelligent, creative, grounded and spiritual individuals who helped him explore a deeper connection with the Jewish land and soul. Raanan made Aliyah from New Jersey, USA in 1976.
Lifetime Achievement Award — Professor Alice Shalvi is an educator, feminist activist, social advocate and professor emerita of English literature. She was born in Essen, Germany in 1926, and emigrated to England as a child, where she received her education, graduating from both the University of Cambridge and the London School of Economics. In November 1949 she emigrated to Israel from the UK, where she taught in the English Department at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for forty years. During this period she also held various administrative positions at the university and, in 1962, received her PhD. From 1975-1990 she served as principal of Pelech, a unique progressive high school for religious girls, transforming it into one of Jerusalem’s most prestigious schools, later becoming a nationwide school network. She was the founding chairwoman of the Israel Women’s Network, an organization dedicated to advancing the status of women in Israel, which became Israel’s major advocacy group on women’s issues. Shalvi has been an active and leading figure in a variety of social movements, peace and interreligious dialogues and feminist activities, in both establishment and non-governmental frameworks. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including honorary degrees from a number of institutions of higher education such as Brown University, the Weizman Institute of Science, Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion, the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, and Ben Gurion University of the Negev. In 2007, she was awarded the Israel Prize for Lifetime Achievements in the areas of education, social welfare and human rights. Prof. Shalvi made Aliyah from London, UK in 1949.
Lifetime Achievement Award — Professor Eliezer Jaffe, z”l was an Emeritus Professor of Social Work and Philanthropy. He first came to Israel from the USA in 1957 as a volunteer and returned to obtain his doctorate in social work. He was one of the founders of Hebrew University’s School of Social Work and blazed the path for the social improvement and development of Israel’s non-profit sector. In 1990, Professor Jaffe founded the Israel Free Loan Association, where he served as president until his recent passing in May 2017. The organization has provided over 57,000 interest free loans to low- and middle-income Israelis to date. He consulted numerous ministers, the mayor of Jerusalem, and many non-governmental offices to create social programs for underprivileged citizens, and taught in various universities. He was instrumental in establishing Israeli law regarding inter-country adoption and published several books. Professor Jaffe received the highest accolades, among them the President of Israel’s Citation for Outstanding Volunteer, the Sderot Conference Award for Contribution to Israeli Society, the Jerusalem Mayor’s Award for Outstanding Nonprofit Association Leadership, and the Bernard Revel Memorial Award, presented to the most outstanding scholars and community leaders among Yeshiva University alumni. In 2011, he received the Speaker of the Knesset Prize for improving the quality of life in Israel, and in 2012, he received the Yakir Yerushalayim Distinguished Citizen of Jerusalem award. Prof. Jaffe made Aliyah from Ohio, USA in 1960.
Young Leadership — Captain Libby Weiss drafted into the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit in 2011 and currently serves as the Head of the Social Media Department. She previously held the position of the Head of the North American Media Department and has been interviewed hundreds of times by leading news agencies, most notably during Operation Protective Edge on behalf of the IDF. Weiss also travelled to the Philippines and Nepal with the IDF following the natural disasters and spearheaded the media coverage of Israel’s humanitarian missions. Weiss is the recipient of the Presidential Award for IDF Excellence in 2014, as well as the prestigious Heseg Scholarship for Lone Soldiers. She is currently completing her MBA at the Kellogg School of Management at Tel Aviv University and sits on the executive board of the Israel Government Fellows program. Captain Weiss made Aliyah from Oregon, USA in 2011.
Young Leadership — Scott Neiss created the Israel Lacrosse Association in 2010, before officially making Aliyah in 2012. His efforts have resulted in hundreds of people visiting Israel, some even making Aliyah. Scott structured the ILA to create opportunities for Diaspora Jews to come to Israel, and to get hands-on experience in developing the sport at a grassroots level. In the short time the ILA has existed, Scott’s efforts have brought hundreds of Jewish lacrosse players, coaches, and referees to Israel. The Israel Premier Lacrosse League is now in its third year, with eight teams, including from the periphery development towns of Kiryat Gat and Sderot, featuring players from across Israel and throughout the world. The kids are extremely enthusiastic and the players come from a wide variety of backgrounds, despite lacrosse’s reputation for being an elitist sport. Neiss has also spearheaded the Israel national team program, which earned a 2nd place finish at the European Lacrosse Championships. It was recently announced that Israel won the bid to host the World Lacrosse Championships in July 2018. Scott’s initiative is bringing 2,000 athletes from 50 countries to attend the championship in Israel. Scott made Aliyah from New York, USA in 2012.
About Nefesh B’Nefesh (www.nbn.org.il):
Founded in 2002, Nefesh B’Nefesh in cooperation with Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, The Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth Le’Israel and JNF-USA is dedicated to revitalizing Aliyah from North America and the UK by removing or minimizing the financial, professional, logistical and social obstacles of Aliyah. The support and comprehensive social services provided by Nefesh B’Nefesh to its over 50,000 newcomers has ensured that 90% of its Olim have remained in Israel.