Immigration organization Nefesh B’Nefesh honored nine recipients of the 2017 Sylvan Adams Nefesh B’Nefesh Bonei Zion Prize on Monday, June 26 at the Knesset. The award, now in its fourth year, recognizes immigrants from English-speaking countries who have made a major impact on Israel.
The 2017 Bonei Zion recipients are Professor Benjamin Corn, head of radiotherapy at Ichilov Hospital; Beth Steinberg, director and co-founder of Shutaf Inclusion programs and co-founder of Theater in the Rough; Rabbi Chaim Brovender, founder and Rosh Yeshiva of WebYeshiva.org; Professor Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor and professor of political studies at Bar Ilan University; artist Yoram Raanan; Captain Libby Weiss, head of social media at the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit; and Scott Neiss, founder of the Israel Lacrosse Association.
Two lifetime achievement awards were also given: one to Professor Alice Shalvi for her contributions to the status of women through education and advocacy, and the second — a posthumous prize — to Professor Eliezer Jaffe, for his groundbreaking accomplishments in the field of social work.
“We Anglos have something special to contribute,” said Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, the co-founder and executive director of Nefesh B’Nefesh. “There are things that we can do for the Jewish nation, and everyone is contributing in their way.”
Monday’s ceremony included speeches by Minister of Regional Cooperation Tzachi Hanegbi and Minister of Aliyah and Integration, Sofa Landver.
Hanegbi, the official host of the ceremony, spoke about the adjustments new immigrants make in a new country.
“Being the husband of a new immigrant who moved to Israel 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.
Landver, who is often present at Nefesh B’Nefesh ceremonies, said she came to bless the awardees, and to remind everyone of the challenges of immigration and learning a new language.
“We know what it’s like,” she said. “We say ‘Next year in Jerusalem’ but you get here and it’s not easy — new life, new language. It wasn’t easy to come here and start new lives. You came and did that here in Israel, and changed lives in Israel.”
The Bonei Zion Prize was established in September 2013, and includes a $10,000 prize, which is awarded in six categories, including science and medicine, community and non-profit, education, Israeli advocacy and arts, culture and sports.
In 2016, Montreal real estate mogul Sylvan Adams, also a new immigrant to Israel, began assisting in the funding of the prize, which is now called The Sylvan Adams Nefesh B’Nefesh Bonei Zion Prize.