6 immigrants to Israel awarded ‘Bonei Zion’ prize

English-speaking olim honored by Nefesh B’Nefesh for making a ‘major impact on the State of Israel’

Moshe Arens (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Moshe Arens (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Six immigrants to Israel from English-speaking countries have been awarded the 2016 Sylvan Adams Nefesh B’Nefesh Bonei Zion Prize.

The $10,000 prizes announced Monday are awarded for English-speaking immigrants who have made a major impact on the State of Israel. The prizes will be awarded at an official ceremony at the Knesset in May.

The winners are:

Howard (Chaim) Cedar, a Safra Distinguished professor at the Department of Developmental Biology and Cancer Research at Hebrew University who has made pioneering contributions in the field of genetics, was awarded in the Science and Medicine category. He made aliyah in 1973 from the United States.

Scott Tobin, general partner at Battery Ventures, where he leads investments in Israel, the United States and Europe as a world’s top venture capitalist, was awarded in the Entrepreneurship and Technology category. He has lived in Israel since 2008 and officially made aliyah from the United States in 2011.

Dr. Rachel Levmore, the founder and director of the Agunah & Get-Refusal Prevention Project at the International Young Israel Movement and the Jewish Agency for Israel, and a rabbinical court advocate, was awarded in the Community and Non-Profit category. Levmore revolutionized Israeli society’s view on women’s halachic personal status by participating in the authorship of the Israeli reciprocal halachic prenuptial “Agreement for Mutual Respect” in order to prevent the refusal of a Jewish divorce, or get. She made aliyah in 1976 from the United States.

Barbara Levin, founder of the pluralist Tali school system featuring 96 schools, 134 nursery classes and some 35,000 pupils, was awarded in the Education category. She made aliyah in 1969 from the United States.

Staff Sgt. Sahar Elbaz, a recently released lone soldier from the Israel Defense Forces’ Givati Brigade, was awarded in the IDF and National Service Young Leadership category. Elbaz shot four attackers and saved his unit when it came under attack in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge in 2014. He was one of only five soldiers to receive the chief of staff’s citation in Operation Protective Edge, which was bestowed upon him for his “bravery, resourcefulness and fortitude.” Elbaz made aliyah from the United States in 2012.

Estelle Friedman, director of production for Israel Education Television, where generations of Israelis have acquired the basics of the English, Hebrew and Arabic languages and basic concepts of Judaism, was awarded in the Culture, Sports and Arts category. She made aliyah from the United States in 1964.

In addition, a Lifetime Achievement Award was awarded to Moshe Arens, a former foreign minister, defense minister and Israeli ambassador to the United States, for his contribution to shaping Israel through diplomacy and dedicated hasbarah, or public relations. Arens made aliyah from the United States in 1948.

The panel of judges included Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, the Israeli military’s former chief of staff; Colette Avital, a former Israeli diplomat and Knesset member; David Gerstein, an internationally renowned painter and sculptor; Barbara Goldstein, the deputy executive director of Hadassah in Israel; Yonatan Halevy, director general of Shaare Zedek Medical Center; Steve Linde, editor in chief of The Jerusalem Post; Gabriela Shalev, president of the Higher Academic Council and dean of the law school at Ono Academic College; Rabbi Berel Wein, founder and director of The Destiny Foundation; and Yael Arad, the first Israeli to win an Olympic medal.

Nefesh B’Nefesh is a nonprofit organization founded in 2002 to encourage and facilitate the aliyah process for Jews from North America and the United Kingdom.

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