Nefesh B’Nefesh, the nonprofit organization tasked by the Israeli government with organizing and encouraging aliya from North America and the United Kingdom, has announced a new prize for immigrants from English-speaking countries.
The Bonei Zion (builders of Zion) Prize will be awarded to immigrants “who encapsulate the spirit of modern-day Zionism by contributing in a significant way towards developing the State of Israel,” Nefesh B’Nefesh said in a statement Wednesday.
Five $10,000 (NIS 35,600) prizes are to be granted in the fields of science and medicine; education and nonprofit; IDF and national service; entrepreneurship and technology; and culture, sports and art.
“Many English-speaking olim are accomplishing remarkable things in Israel, and it is important to recognize these contributions,” said Nefesh B’Nefesh director Rabbi Yehoshua Fass. “We believe that accentuating the achievements of Western olim will be a catalyst to inspire others to make aliya and help make a difference to our young country.”
The selection committee includes academics, retired military officials, journalists, businessmen, and others. Former IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi, elder statesman and author Yehuda Avner, and former UN ambassador Gabriella Shalev are among the members of the 16-person committee. (The Times of Israel founding editor David Horovitz will also sit on the panel.)
The winners will be announced on January 12, 2014.
Nefesh B’Nefesh was founded in 2002 by Fass and American businessman Tony Gelbart. Until 2006, it focused exclusively on easing the aliya process for American Jews, when it expanded to the United Kingdom. In 2008, the government decided to grant Nefesh B’Nefesh responsibility for promoting and managing aliya from North America, and moved to fund a third of the organization’s annual budget.
According to Nefesh B’Nefesh, it has brought over 35,000 immigrants to Israel.