Each and every year I live here, I find myself more encouraged, inspired, motivated and impassioned by the women of valor who have chosen to be here. From the far-reaching corners of the earth, many have given up fame, fortune and family to impact and contribute to the State of Israel, our people and our home.
I’d like to introduce and honor 68 extraordinary women, who inspire, who lead, who battle, who change, who teach, who create, who motivate, who challenge, who unify and who have helped shape what we are and what our future will become.
Please help me celebrate these extraordinary women, each helping in her own special way to shape the future of Israel for all of us.
1. Rachelle Frankel
Modern day Israeli equivalent of the biblical matriarch, “Rachel.” After the kidnapping and murder of her son Naftali z”l by terrorists in 2014, Rachelle became the inspirational and unifying role model for all of Israel on every part of the political and religious spectrum. Perseverance, gratitude, grace, modesty, resilience are just some of the words used regularly to describe her. Rachelle is the Dean of Students at Nishmat, The Jeanie Schottenstein Center for Advanced Torah Study for Women, and the director of Matan’s Hilkhata Institute (Advanced Halakha Program). She is also a Yoetzet Halacha and was in the first graduating class of Matan’s Advanced Talmud Institute.
2. Susie Dvoskin
Superwoman. 20-year organizer of Israel’s Female Triathlon, held every year in memory of her daughter Tamar, who was killed in a cycling accident. One of the original founders of the TALI open school movement in Israel. Founding team member of the special needs bar and bat mitzvah program (which has spread nationally) that has enabled thousands of special needs children to experience their bar/bat mitzvah in Israel. Susie’s triathalon motto: “Every woman a winner.”
3. Ariella Zeitlin-Hoffman
Violinist, musician. Ariella is an award winning violinist who is involved in a myriad of social projects bringing music to different demographics through educational concerts,inspirational performances, inspirational speaking, and a wide range of international events as a representative of Israel. She made aliyah at the age of 17 and graduated with an MA in Violin Performance from the Jerusalem Academy of Music in 2014. Ariella continues to teach and perform regularly with some of the biggest names in Israeli music. Ready to say WOW? Listen here and watch her play.
4. Nitsana Darshan-Leitner
Pioneer in the judicial battle against terrorism, Director, Shurat HaDin Israeli Law Center. Nitsana is at the forefront of fighting terrorism and safeguarding Jewish rights worldwide. She and her organization are dedicated to the protection of the State of Israel. From defending against lawfare suits fighting academic and economic boycotts and challenging those who seek to delegitimize the Jewish state, Shurat HaDin uses court systems around the world to go on the legal offensive against Israel’s enemies. She works with Western intelligence agencies, law enforcement branches and a network of volunteer lawyers across the globe to file legal actions on behalf of world Jewry. Nitsana, the mother of six, including triplets, is a graduate of the Bar-Ilan University Law Faculty and holds an MBA from Manchester University.
5. Dr. Chana Katan:
OBGYN, (Fertility/Sexual Intimacy specialist) Member of Israeli National Comittee on Women’s Health. Organizer of conferences on medicine and halacha, author of three books on women’s health and regular contributor to B’Sheva national newspaper. Mother of 13, grandmother to many. Previously, Emunah Woman of the Year and recipient of the Katz Prize. Active in supporting and advancing egg freezing techniques for unmarried women. Give courses, seminars and webinars to Kallah teachers, family therapists, sex specialists and mikveh attendants on gynecology and intimacy.
6. Anna Phillips:
Manager Strategic Partnerships, Start-Up Nation Central. A native of San Diego, Anna joined Start-Up Nation Central after spending 5+ years working on democratic governance and women’s rights programs in East Africa. Anna builds bridges between Israel and companies, countries, and entrepreneurs from around the world. Anna oversees incoming delegations of multinational companies and foreign government officials interested in Israeli innovation, connecting business and government leaders with the people and technologies in Israel that can solve their most pressing challenges. Anna was a Fulbright Scholar in Uganda researching the effectiveness of quotas for women in the national parliament. Anna established a non-profit in Uganda in 2006 that has empowered over 600 young women through sports, life skills and microenterprise training. Under her leadership, Girls Kick It was awarded the 2012 Sport for Social Inclusion Award by Barclay’s Bank and Tony Blair. Anna trains and competes in Israel in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
7. Rabbanit Chana Henkin:
Founder and Dean of Nishmat, the Jeanie Schottenstein Center for Advanced Torah Study for Women in Jerusalem, is one of today’s most acclaimed Jewish educators and is helping redraw the landscape of higher Torah learning and leadership for women. Together with her husband, noted halachic authority Rabbi Yehuda Henkin, Rabbanit Henkin created Jewish history’s first Yoatzot Halacha, experts in women’s health and halacha, who have since addressed more than 200,000 halachic questions from around the world. Rabbanit Henkin’s warmth and contagious love of learning make her an internationally sought-after lecturer. She and her family were drawn further into the spotlight this year when her son and daughter in law, Rabbi Eitam and Naama Henkin z”l, were murdered in front of their four children while driving home. Rabbanit Henkin’s speech at the end of the shiva period transformed her into the bat kol of the generation when she called upon each and every person to do more kind acts, mitzvot and learning.
8. Dr. Elana Heideman
Executive Director of The Israel Forever Foundation where she has transformed the face of the personal Israel connection providing endless opportunities for engagement, activism and celebration. Elana received her PhD under Professor Elie Wiesel in 2010, served as the International Chair of the Young Leadership Action Network of B’nai B’rith, and was awarded the Herzl Prize in 2004.
9. Pamela Becker
VP Global Marketing, Chair; Jeremy’s Circle. Pamela and her husband Jeremy had three young children when Jeremy was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2007. While there were a number of organizations in Israel that supported people with cancer and their caregivers, there weren’t any for their kids. Inspired by the friends and family that embraced their children — taking them out for hikes, sleepovers, movies and BBQs when Jeremy was in treatment — and by their daughter’s request for a play-date with another girl whose daddy had cancer, Pamela, her sisters-in-law Juliette and Naomi Coleman, and her late husband’s close friends co-founded Jeremy’s Circle. Today, Jeremy’s Circle is a supportive community of about 300 families, based on friendship and fun, with children and young teens who are growing up with cancer in their families or who have suffered a cancer loss. The community is built on a series of free Fun Days throughout the year on school holidays where Jeremy’s Circle kids meet each other in a fun, informal setting, forming important friendships, and enjoying much-needed respite. In her professional life, Pamela is the VP Global Marketing at Matomy, a world-leading media company.
10. Rachel Azaria
Member of Israel’s Knesset with The Kulanu party, in her first term. Rachel is a member of the Knesset Finance Committee and Interior Affairs Committee. Rachel focuses on labor laws, women’s affairs, and redefining religion and state. She serves as a member of the appropriations committee, internal affairs committee, ethics committee, and is a joint chair of the Knesset Environmental Lobby. Prior to running for Knesset, Azaria served as Deputy Mayor and member of the Jerusalem City Council, where she was party chair and held portfolios related to education and community councils. She is internationally recognized for her feminist activism: in her role as a local politician, she won hard-fought campaigns to enforce laws prohibiting gender segregation and discrimination in Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods. Between 2004-2007, Rachel served as the director of Mavoi Satum, a nonprofit organization that assists Jewish women who have been denied a religious divorce.
11. Dr Yael Shuster
Dr. Schuster, aka Dr. Mom, is a research scientist with a PhD in organic chemistry from the Technion, Israel. She is an educator at heart, lecturing at the university level in both chemistry and soft skills for scientists, as well as leading a variety of outreach programs for kids. She is a mother of two perfect children, and has recently jumped ship to the startup world in efforts to show girls that science belongs to them, too. Yael is the founder of The KnowItAlls, an international community and educational toy line crafted to give girls superstar scientist role models and to encourage them to play with science.
12. Tamar Sternthal
Director of CAMERA’s Israel Office, which she joined in 1999. Tamar regularly communicates with editors at major media outlets such as The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, CNN, and the Associated Press and has elicited countless corrections in print and on the air. Since opening CAMERA’s Israel office in 2004, Sternthal has monitored the English-language Israeli press, including Haaretz, and wields influence among Western journalists.As an undergraduate at McGill University in Montreal, Sternthal first encountered problems of media bias with respect to Israel while she reported for the McGill Daily. Since then, her columns have appeared in media outlets in America and Israel, including The Philadelphia Daily News, St. Petersburg Times, The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, The Times of Israel, The Jerusalem Post, and Ynet.
13. Dr. Naomi Marmon Grumet:
Founder and Educational Director of the Eden Center. She holds a PhD in sociology from Bar Ilan University. Her research focus is on women’s identity formation in the Jewish community..Naomi founded The Eden Center, a Jerusalem-based initiative that integrates women’s health awareness, crisis prevention and intimacy education into mikveh, to infuse the practice with relevance to the lives and challenges of couples today, and to connect women to resources of support within the Jewish community.
14. Helen Wexler
Director, Jnext, Award winning “archi-tech.” Helen works at the intersection of architecture and technology, where is currently the Director of the Jnext hi-tech, an entrepreneurship program at the Jerusalem Development Authority. She manages a city-wide coordinated program to support the growth of the Jerusalem tech ecosystem, while initiating economic development policies in this realm. Helen lectures Israeli Ministry of Economy, the Israeli Parliament and international delegations about “lean government” and ecosystem building, using the successful development in Jerusalem as a case study. She has also lectured on other topics at Singularity University, Google campus, JDC, etc. and currently lectures at Bezalel on “Technology Paradigms in Architecture.” Helen recently received an award from NASA for her design of 3D printed housing on Mars.
15. Vivienne Glaser
Founder, Swim for Sadna. Swim for Sadna is Israel’s first (and only) women only swim of the Kinneret. The swim is held in May each year to raise money for Sadnat Shiluv and has been an annual event since 2010. Sadnat Shiluv is unique center for special needs children and young adults, which her own now-grown son Elchie attends. Vivienne has inspired thousands of women from all around the world to get more active in sports, raise money for charity and work towards mainstreaming special needs children and young adults into the broader community and building adult living facilities suited to their needs. As a swimmer in 5 of the last 6 swims, I encourage you to join the Sadna this year for an absolutely unforgettable and inspiring experience.
16. Laura Ben-David
Writer, photographer and pro-Israel activist. Formerly, head of Social Media at Nefesh B’Nefesh, now a sought after speaker and director of Marketing and New Media at Shavei Israel. Laura is the author of the book, MOVING UP: An Aliyah Journal, a memoir of her move to Israel, as well as numerous published articles both in print and digital media.
17. Hilla Ovil Brenner
Serial Entrepreneur. Active in Israel’s high-tech industry for nearly two decades, Hilla Brenner is a true believer in innovation, team spirit, and turning dreams into reality through passion. Hilla was the CEO and Founder of WhiteSmoke, Inc., now a public company, and is currently the CEO of GlingMedia, a company specializing in on-demand mobile monetization. Hilla is also the founder of Yazamiyot, a non-profit networking group for women entrepreneurs with more than 1,000 members, and a track record of inspiring events. One of the more successful events is the Campus TLV for Moms course for women on maternity leave, created in cooperation with Google. Hilla is also an active mentor on a number of accelerators, including IBM and Microsoft and is on the advisory board of several rising startups.
18. Joanna Shebson
Founder, Fun in Jerusalem. What started out as a mommy blog has grown into an incredible tourism resource for families visiting or living in Jerusalem. After making aliyah from Los Angeles, nine years ago, Joanna Shebson noticed the lack of information about kids’ events in the capital, which led her to create a platform to inform Anglos about the newest activities, events and special festivals in Jerusalem. Joanna hopes that she will continue to inspire family fun and spread the message that Jerusalem is a great place to raise kids and an ideal family travel destination for everyone.
19. Danni Franks
Founder, Myisrael, Myisrael connects the UK Jewish community with amazing, grassroots programs in Israel for funding, involvement and support. Myisrael focuses on the “little guys.” They vet tens of projects across Israel and choose the few that meet their criteria of responsible stewardship. Myisrael works with organizations throughout the country, such as: a local group of seniors assisting their neighbor Ethiopian community succeed; dentists volunteering to provide free dental care to those in need; food banks for the hungry; a horse farm providing critical therapy for the disabled. Myisrael nurtures, mentors and exposes these projects to a UK audience, mostly for the first time. Their model is simple, clear and transparent. To date, they raised and supported more than £3m for more than 40 causes across Israel.
20. Julie Fischer
President, Diplomatic Spouses of Israel, wife of US Ambassador Dan Shapiro. Champion with seemingly endless energy for national projects including educational, immigrant, refuge, ecology, art, and women’s issues. Julie arrived in Tel Aviv in the summer of 2011, when her husband assumed the ambassadorship. She is a non-stop hostess, activist and diplomatic spouse involving herself as much as she can in every facet of Israeli society and working for positive change in the lives of all who make their home here. Julie regularly hosts events and activities of the DSI and for larger Israeli groups and communities including the annual US Independence Day 4 of July event that is enjoyed in person by more than 2,000 American expats and guests every year, and more than 10,000 viewers via live streaming.
21. Tali Kaplinski Tarlow
Founder/Owner of Israel ScaVentures (Jerusalem Scavenger Hunts). With a background in both formal and informal education, Tali combined her love for Israel and her passion for experiential education to create a tour game experience that is loved and played by thousands of Israeli’s and tourists alike. To date, Israel ScaVentures has run more than 15 routes all over Israel, with madrichim (guides) trained to work in four languages. Tali lives in Gush Etzion with her husband, Daniel and their four children. Tali is happiest when she is on tiyul with her family, in her garden, or plotting new and crazy adventures.
22. Rochel Sylvetsky
Educator, activist. Rochel is currently “retired,” but is working hard as the OpEd, Judaism and book review editor of Arutz Sheva English website. In her previous professional roles, Rochel was the Head of the Math Dept in Ulpenat Chorev; Chairperson of Israel Emunah, member of Religious Education Authority (1996-2001) CEO of Kfar Hanoar Hadati, founder of Nachalat Yisrael Yeshiva High School and member of Zevulun Valley Regional Council (2001-2008). Rochel was also the Managing Editor of Arutz Sheva English site (2008-2014). May we be lucky to have Rochel’s passion for community, education, and contribution throughout our lives!
23. Sara Nadav
CEO of Civilize, member of the World Economic Forum and serial fintech entrepreneur, Google mentor, best selling author, mother of two and advocate/blogger/activist for diversity in tech.
24. Sherri Mandel
Sherri Mandell is co-director of the Koby Mandell Foundation, created in memory of her oldest son Koby z”l, who was murdered by terrorists in 2001. Mother to 3 other younger children, Sherri knew that in order to go on, she and her husband Seth needed to transform the cruelty of Koby’s death into acts of kindness and hope. For that reason, they created the Koby Mandell Foundation, which provides healing programs for families struck by terrorism. Sherri believes that the Jewish response to suffering is to live a fuller and more engaged life. Their programs help others who have suffered the trauma of loss overcome the isolation that keeps them from returning to life. The Foundation helps participants find meaning in their loss, so that families become stronger, rather than weaker, from their traumas. In this way, they keep Koby’s spirit alive in the world. Sherri has written two books related to mourning and resilience: The Road to Resilience: From Chaos to Celebration, and The Blessing of a Broken Heart, which won a National Jewish Book Award in 2004.
25. Alejandra Castellanos Barav
Journalist, engineer, innovative entrepreneur and a good will ambassador. She has lived on three continents and thrived in global media for social impact for the last decade. The Mexican journalist followed love all the way to Israel, made roots and founded HOLALAND,a media agency and talent development accelerator, educating and bridging the gap between the latest Israeli innovations and the Latin America social impact and business hub.
26. Toby Klein Greenwald
Co-Founder, WholeFamily.com, journalist, educator, poet, playwright, and the award-winning director of Raise Your Spirits Theatre, DorL’Dor Psychological Theater and Na’na Playback Dance Theater. Toby teaches English, Creative Writing, and Theater, and has also taught Tanach and Jewish Philosophy. She is a journalist, playwright, poet and the author, with Dr. Michael Tobin, of the self-help novel in Hebrew, A Married Woman’s Choice, (Keter). She initiated and edited Listening to God, by Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, and received Israel’s Ministry of Education’s Egerest Award for Jewish Culture, as well as Ohr Torah Stone’s Shavei Rachel Award for “Leadership in Jewish education and the creative use of drama in transmitting Judaism to the next generation.” She has used theater with teens-at- risk and with those who have suffered trauma, in Jerusalem, Tzfat, Sderot, Gush Etzion and post-Gush Katif.
27. Zoe Bermant
Entrepreneur, mentor, marketing expert. Born in South Africa, Zoe’s family moved to Australia when she was 6-years-old, and at 23, she made aliyah. Zoe has worked in the field of marketing and communications for more than 20 years, with experience in cyber security, international travel and most recently as a “mumpreneur.” Zoe is the founder of her own mobile startup, KiddyUP and co-inventor of No-Tipz, a patented device that stops strollers from tipping. She is passionate about solutions that make lives easier and more affordable for parents.
28. Barbara Levin
Began, in 1976, as principal of Israel’s First Traditional School, where pluralistic Jewish subjects were included in the curriculum for children from both secular and observant families. The school grew from a group of 33 pupils to 300, and served as the prototype for schools that wanted to adopt its unique curriculum.Today, there are 96 schools, 134 nursery classes, and some 35,000 pupils in the TALI educational system. While serving as principal of the Frankel School for 29 years, Barbara also managed to institute a wide range of innovative projects, including community theater, a twinning program, the Frankel Center for Jewish Family Education, and a program that integrated pupils with autism into the school’s classes. Levin’s success at integration of students with learning difficulties compelled a radical change in policy of the Israeli Ministry of Education towards autistic students.
29. Rachel Moore
Co-founder/co-owner Hub Etzion, the first and only coworking Hub in Gush Etzion -and Judea and Samaria. Rachel is also the Director of PR & Communications at Blue Thread Marketing. She has been a PR/Comm professional in Israel and the US for more than 20 years. She is a blogger at Ima2eight and writes for several publications. She is also an amateur actress and singer, who performs in several venues over the course of a year. Rachel is stepmom to one and mother to seven.
30. Rabbanit Malke Bina
Chancellor of Matan; winner of the Hadassah Prize; Honorary Doctorate from Yeshiva University; Emunah Woman of the Year; Nefesh B’Nefesh Bonei Zion Prize; teacher of Talmud; creator of first women’s Beit Midrash promoting active and intensive Torah learning. Proud mother and grandmother.
31. Chedva Kleinhandler
CEO and founder of Lean On, an on-demand career mentorship app for women in the workforce. Lean On strives to empower women at work and help companies become better — both socially (becoming more diverse and inclusive) and business-wise (retaining female talent and driving innovation and revenue). Before Lean On, Chedva worked in social media and content marketing, working with small brands and larger companies like Etsy, Houzz and Ikea. Chedva grew up in Bnei Brak, where she and her husband now raise their 9-year-old son.
32. Rachel Canar
Director, NGO Catalyst. Rachel created NGO Catalyst to provide training, job matching, mentoring and peer networking to hundreds of nonprofit sector workers in Israel. Strengthening Israel’s NGOs and helping hundreds of new immigrants find meaningful work. Rachel holds a BA from the University of California in Language Studies and an MA from the Hornstein Program in Jewish Nonprofit Management at Brandeis University.
33. Dr. Rachel Levmore
Founder and Director of the Agunah & Get-Refusal Prevention Project of the International Young Israel Movement and the Jewish Agency for Israel. As a rabbinical court advocate, she assists agunot in Israel and in the Diaspora to free themselves from unwanted marriages through a dignified process. Dr. 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,” preventing get-refusal. Dr. Levermore is a halachic scholar and author of Min’ee Einayikh Medim’ah on prenuptial agreements. She holds a PhD in Talmud & Jewish Law. She has worked tirelessly to prevent get-abuse, culminating in her appointment as a member of the Israel Commission for the Appointment of Dayanim.
34. Kay Wilson
Survivor. semi-professional jazz pianist, licensed Israeli tour guide, and ghost writer for a prominent Israeli government figure. Since her “recovery,” from the terror attack that took her friend’s life and left her badly injured, stabbed tens of times, Kay is a coexistence educator for the non-profit organisation StandWithUs, and a public speaker for One Family, an Israeli NGO that helps survivors of terrorism. Kay’s essay “The Terror Within, a Survivor’s Tale,” was named “The Most Moving Article of 2014” by The Tower. In March 2016, Kay spoke at the United Nations Human Rights Council. The Mail On Sunday recently published Kay’s story to alert British tax-payers who are unwittingly funding terrorism and gathered more than 500,000 petition signatures to date.
35. Rifka Lebowitz
Financial planner and advisor. Rifka is on a mission to guide everyone to “live financially smarter in Israel,” and founded what became an extremely popular Facebook group with that name (“Living Financially Smarter in Israel”), and an active following of more than 11,000 members. Rifka is a financial consultant specializing in personal and small business finance. As a popular speaker all through Israel she has impacted the lives of thousands of new immigrants inspiring them to make it financially after aliyah. Her passion is the psychological aspect of money, addressing the emotional and mental blocks to success with her clients and giving them the tools to overcome them and realize their dreams.
36. Deborah Dickson
Founder, CEO of Love Love Israel. By establishing LoveLoveIsrael, Deborah has transformed the way immigrants and tourists enjoy Israel. As a new immigrant from the UK, she found it a challenge to find fun and exciting places to see and visit with her five children. Using the recommendations and advice of the community, Deborah’s site receives tens of thousands of hits each month, and has helped multitudes of families and individuals to make the most of visits and vacations to Israel. Deborah has opened Israel up to everyone, and makes enjoying Israel more affordable. Deborah fits this passion in with her other work helping to advance women’s rights in family law in Israel at The Rackman Center at Bar Ilan University, and of course raising her five children, together with her husband.
37. Dr. Laura Major
Department Chair, English Language Education, Achva College. Laura was born in South Africa and made aliyah straight from high school in 1993. She completed both her undergraduate and graduate degrees at Bar Ilan University, earning her PhD in 2005. After several years of work in publishing, she turned her attention to education and found a passion in training the next generation of Israel’s English teachers, attempting to instill in them a thirst for excellence in English language education. Laura currently teaches in three such programs and is the Department Head at Achva College while mothering five children and and one very friendly dog.
38. Shelley Levine
CEO Tivuch Shelley. Originally trained as a social worker, Shelley created (originally at her kitchen table) and now runs one of Israel’s largest real estate companies. She raised three children, while helping to market and develop many of today’s most popular Anglo communities in Israel, and is the proud grandmother of six.
39. Molly Livingstone
Comedian, Content Producer. “There are no mistakes; there are only opportunities.” It’s a defiant rule of improvisation and the way Molly Livingstone attempts to live life in Israel (you do too, you just don’t know it yet). Comedy is a tool of survival, so Molly does her best to fine-tune and use it in Israel, where she helps her followers and fans survive people parking on the sidewalks, bureaucracy, banks with made-up hours of operation, trying to pronounce words with letters that her American accent refuse to accept in the back of her throat — and all that other stuff about war and terror. Molly is more determined than ever to spread the joy and the laughter. From improvisation workshops with Birthrights and gap years, international comedy lectures around the world, and stand-up in front of judgy Israelis, Molly wants you to embrace your Israeli, one joke at a time. See Israel, the people, culture and society through the international language of laughter. You can check out her jokes, sketches, attempts to work in the shuk and so much more here.
40. Julie Gray
Founder, Middle East Media Literacy Initiative (MEMLI). Julie is a Native Californian, and was a long time TV and movie story analyst in Los Angeles. She founded the Tel Aviv Writers Salon, and is a Huffington Post writer. In 2015, Julie founded The Middle East Media Literacy Initiative (MEMLI) and is now teaching media literacy workshops throughout the region.
41. Shoshanna Keats Jaskoll
Writer, mom, seeker of truth, lover of chocolate. Shoshanna uses her pen and platform to raise awareness of issues that plague the Jewish community and suggests practical steps to help solve them. She endlessly crusades for solutions for agunot (chained wives), advocates for the halachic prenup, speaks against the disturbing phenomenon of erasing women, and shares her passion for Israel and her people. She writes in TOI, the Jerusalem Post, and at skjaskoll.com. Shoshanna is a founding member of Chochmat Nashim, an organization dedicated to positive change in the Jewish community. As a co-founder of REACH3K, she brands and writes for some of Israel’s largest nonprofits and best boutique businesses.
42. Rebecca Rachmany
Founder and CEO of Gangly Sister LLC, a new media company with the mission of transforming how girls are portrayed in the media. Rebecca has held a variety of senior positions over the past 20 years in the Israeli tech scene, and her company is out to create gender equality in tech and entrepreneurship. Rebecca coaches and mentors entrepreneurs in Israeli high-tech, and is involved in social justice projects both locally and internationally.
43. Emily Friedman Novak
Co-founder Keren Bakatana. Keren Bakatana is dedicated to funding brilliant sparks of innovation geared toward supporting undeserved populations. Emily has extensive experience working in the field of philanthropy, with nonprofit organizations and in foreign relations. She has more than 10 years of experience working with top North American donors, foundation management, grant evaluation and Jewish community work. In her previous roles, she has worked for family and private foundations, Jewish community centers, and in the Israeli Foreign Ministry. Emily holds a BA in International Relations & Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Toronto and a masters in Nonprofit Management through the Schwartz Program at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She currently works for the Jewish Funders Network, Israel as the Israeli Programs Manager.
44. Shoshana Balofsky
Graphic designer, mother of three. After her youngest was diagnosed in utero with a critical congenital heart defect, she started blogging about her family’s journey. journey. That became the springboard for creating a community for other heart parents. While Shoshana rallied behind her miraculous daughter’s fight for life and spread awareness about CHDs, she started Little Lev, an organization that provides support and assistance to families of children with congenital heart defects in Israel.
45. Olga Deutsch
Director, Europe Desk at NGO Monitor. Olga graduated from the University of Belgrade and the University of Munich with degrees in banking, insurance, and finance. Awarded a Ford Motor Company Fellowship, she graduated as a community leader at the School of International and Public Affairs of Columbia University in New York. Prior to making aliyah in 2009, she was the chairperson of the European Union of Jewish Students, an umbrella organization for 34 national unions. In 2008, she received the International Leadership Prize from the American Jewish Committee. Over the past 12 years, Olga has held senior positions in the private sector in Europe and Israel.
46. Sarah Tuttle-Singer
New Media Editor, Times of Israel and a writer. Sarah is also a regular contributor at Kveller and her work has been featured in ScaryMommy, Ladies’ Home Journal and Time.com. Sarah is the proud mother of two and a work in progress.
47. Andi Saitowiz
Life Coach. Advisor. Mentor. Andi is actively involved with Israel’s leading charitable organization in the field of disabilities, Beit Issie Shapiro, where for more than 12 years, she launched and now organizes the much loved community Cycle for Smiles campaign to raise awareness and funding for people with special needs in Israel. Andi also co-founded the Meaningful Gifts website, where more than 35 worthy charities and nonprofit organizations directly benefit from donations made in lieu of gifts both locally and internationally. The MGifts portal was created to support the exceptional work of outstanding causes from anywhere in the world in lieu of physical gifts for any and every occasion, reason or celebration. Andi is proudly realizing the Zionist dream of living in Israel with her devoted husband and their three beautiful children.
48. Naava Shafner
Director, ImaKadima. After making aliyah at age 12 with her family, Naava finished high school in Jerusalem, did two years of national service, helping disadvantaged populations, and holds a degree in Political Science and Communications from Bar Ilan .In 2014, Naava co-founded ImaKadima, an organization that supports career-minded mothers and advocates for family friendly workplaces. ImaKadima currently boasts more than 3,200 members, across the country. Naava’s hallmark is her passion — for Jerusalem, for career-minded moms, for her family, and for making sure Israel lives up to its potential to be an “Or Lagoyim,” a light unto the nations.
49. Rabbanit Shani Taragin
BA, MA in Tanach and Talmud, Bar Ilan University, where she is currently pursuing her PhD in Tanach. Rosh Beit Midrash, Ra”m, Halachic Advisor on Family Purity, Kallah Teacher. Shani teaches college students and adults at MaTaN, Shaalvim for Women, Migdal Oz, Midreshet Torah VeAvodah, and the Women’s Batei Medrash in Efrat, Elazar, and Ramat Shilo. Shani has initiated numerous Torah educational endeavors for women of all ages — Mom & Tots Torah learning, Yom Emunah for seminary students, Eshkolot Masters in Tanach Eduction Program in MaTaN and Morot Halachah program in MaTaN HaSharon. She is a graduate of Nishmat’s Keren Ariel Program for certification as a yoetzet halacha (halachic advisor of family purity law), and has trained hundreds of women in advanced kallah-teaching seminars. Shani lectures throughout Israel and North America and works with her local religious council dealing with issues of Jewish law, women’s health, and education.
50. Jamie Geller
Founder, CEO, Chief Creative Officer. Known as the “Jewish Rachael Ray” (The New York Times) and the “Queen of Kosher” (CBS), best- selling author Jamie Geller is the founder and Chief Creative Officer of Kosher Media Network, publisher of JOYofKOSHER.com and the award-winning JOY of KOSHER with Jamie Geller magazine. She is also host of the Chanukah Cooking Special with Jamie Geller on PBS and Create TV. Jamie is a regular on the TODAY Show and has appeared on ABC, NBC, CBS and Martha Stewart Living Radio, and has been featured in Forbes, Family Circle, Cosmopolitan and the Chicago Tribune among many others. After graduating magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa from New York University in just three years Jamie enjoyed an illustrious career as an award-winning TV producer and marketing executive for HBO, CNN and FOOD NETWORK. One of the most sought-after Jewish food and lifestyle personalities worldwide Jamie Geller and her husband have six fun and fabulous children — which gives her plenty of reasons to get out of the kitchen — fast.
51. Orly Shafir
Co-founder, Keren Bakatana. Keren Bakatana is dedicated to funding brilliant sparks of innovation geared toward supporting undeserved populations. Orly made aliyah from Phoenix, Arizona in 2007 and now lives in Tel Aviv. She has a bachelor’s degree in Family Studies and Human Development from the University of Arizona and a master’s degree in Nonprofit Management from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. With more than 10 years of professional experience in the third sector, her work has focused on informal education and experiential programming for young adults as well as support programs for individuals in crisis. Orly currently works at Maoz where she focuses on resource development.
52. Tova Knecht
Blogger. After living in New Jersey all her life, Tova and her husband decided to move their family to live in Israel. She left her teaching position of 11 years and is spending the year acclimating the family to the culture and life in Israel. Tova took this opportunity to start a blog, Tova in Israel, to describe and highlight all of her positive experiences. Her blog features everyday life, such as the store owners of Shuk Machane Yehuda, 10 types of Israeli Egged buses, and the excitement of daily life in a new country, the Jewish homeland. She truly finds the positive in every situation that arises, and has inspired thousands around the world to follow her journey and see a different side of Israel.
53. Miriam Friedman
Co-founder and Executive Director of Magen (nonprofit that deals with protecting children from and preventing sexual abuse. Miriam is also a community activist and therapist. “In many communities in Israel today, a perpetrator can depend on being supported and protected by his community, while his victims suffer in shame and silence. Magen is working to overturn the status quo completely — to make our communities safe havens for children, not for abusers.”
54. Stav Erez
Director, Business Development at OurCrowd. Co-founder of SifTech, the first entrepreneurship center and accelerator program in greater Jerusalem. After two successful cohorts of SifTech accelerator and the establishment of the Jerusalem startup community, Stav moved to the Jerusalem Development Authority (JDA) in order to build and manage Jnext, a joint project of the JDA, the Ministry of Jerusalem and the Municipality of Jerusalem.
55. Dvora Corn
Co-founder of Life’s Door — Gisha L’chaim, an international nonprofit organization based in Jerusalem that provides spiritual and emotional support and growth experiences for patients, professionals, and families in the area of life-threatening illness and loss. Dvora was also the founding co-chair of the UJA-Federation NY-sponsored Israel Jewish Spiritual Care Network, an organization of 22 agencies that deal with the development of spiritual care in Israel. Her clinical work as a family therapist focuses on issues of loss and illness, in which she works from existential and systems perspectives.
56. Laura Cowan
Silversmith/Judaica designer. Unless you’ve been an in igloo the last 15 years, chances are, you’ve seen Laura’s internationally renowned Judaica pieces. Laura is redefining our relationship with Jewish tradition and design, bringing color, light, symmetry and art to ritual objects. Laura creates her metal art by hand in her studio in Neve Tsedek, Tel Aviv. Originally from Manchester, England, she completed her BA (Hons) in Silversmithing at London Guildhall University, and continued her studies as an apprentice in a jewelry studio in Jaffa. Laura creates unique pieces many of which have been inspired by the 1960s mission to land a man on the moon. In 2008, Laura received an unusual email requesting the exact weight of her Apollo mezuzah. The email was from American Astronaut Greg Chamitoff who asked to fly her rocket shaped mezuzah to the International Space Station on Expedition 17. Check out her work!
57. Deborah (Debbie) Lotstein
US General Counsel for ALTO Real Estate Funds in Tel Aviv, Debbie is a dedicated volunteer and activist with the Jerusalem Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (JSPCA), Jerusalem’s largest animal welfare organization. In 2005, Deborah established the Tails and Treats Charity “Bookshop” as an ongoing fundraising project of the JSPCA. Currently housed in her apartment in Jerusalem, the “shop” has received donations of thousands of gently used English books, which have then been resold for the benefit the important work of the JSPCA in feeding, housing, caring for and rehousing Jerusalem’s homeless animal population.
58. Dr. Eve Finkelstein
Dermatologist, activist, conservationist. After making aliyah from Australia, Eve studied dermatology and has been a popular and sought-after dermatologist for more than 20 years. A social activist, she is one of four Orthodox women who joined with the Reform movement’s legal service (IRAC) to maintain women’s rights. IRAC is involved in an ongoing battle with the Beit Shemesh local council, fighting several illegal modesty signs displayed around the city that purport to dictate women’s dress and access to public areas. Eve is also part of an imminent class action lawsuit against a wedding hall that illegally permits indoor smoking on its premises. A passionate conservationist, Eve helped establish a national park in Emek HaElah, following a disappointing eight-year struggle to protect the endangered Palestine mountain gazelle from habitat-destroying development. Eve also co-founded Yeshivat AMIT Nachshon and is active in assisting the Ethiopian community.
59. Lahav Harkov
Senior Knesset reporter for The Jerusalem Post, Lahav has interviewed major figures across the Israeli political spectrum and has the inside scoop on the country’s top lawmakers. Lahav is often invited to lecture on Israeli government and politics in Israel and abroad. International news outlets, such as the BBC, France 24, CTV, Sky News and Sun News Network have sought her insights and analysis about breaking news. She has published articles in Commentary, The New York Post, The Tower, The Jewish Week and the Hebrew-language newspaper Makor Rishon. Lahav was recognized for her social media reporting by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, which named her the 5th-most influential person on “Jewish Twitter.”
60. Sarah Snow
Director of Audience Development at Wisdo.com, online video filmmaker and social media personality. The youngest woman on our list (she’s only 22!), Sarah’s work at Wisdo, helps people take on life’s greatest challenges by equipping them with wisdom from those who have been there. Since joining Wisdo, Sarah has unlocked the power of video storytelling in domains such as coping with cancer, parenthood by adoption, first year of parenthood, getting into college, OCD and hundreds of others, to fundamentally change the way people and their families access and consume wisdom. Sarah also creates original video content that attracts millions of viewers, transforming Sarah into one of the largest social media stars of Israel. Sarah has two Persian cats named Juicee and Luciano who are also insta-famous — you can follow them at @juiceecat
61. Alen Kacal
Director, Jerusalem Bird Observatory. Alena works via their educational programs, teaching more than 40,000 Israeli students from all sectors of society each year about the environment and Israeli ecosystem. Students gain an appreciation and better understanding of our amazing natural resources. Alen was born and raised in Trinidad, received her bachelors degree in Wildlife Biology from the University of Rhode Island, and made aliyah in 2001 at the height of the Intifada.
62. Kate Rosenberg
Co-founder Keren Bakatana. Keren Bakatana is dedicated to funding brilliant sparks of innovation geared toward supporting undeserved populations. Kate made aliyah from Melbourne, Australia to Tel Aviv in 2008. Since then, she has worked extensively in the third sector, also co-foundeding Tov Lada’at, a nonprofit project that supports African refugees in higher education in Israel. She holds a BA in Arts from the University of Melbourne, and a certificate degree in Museum Studies from Haifa. Kate works as a consultant in nonprofit resource development and has an MA in Nonprofit Management from the Hebrew University, Jerusalem.
63. Melanie Amini & Stefani Amini
Identical twin co-founders of Gossip Media, a startup marketing agency based out of Tel Aviv. Originally hailing from London, they initially loved tea, but since moving to Tel Aviv developed a taste for good coffee, and so made a startup to help people find great coffee and like-minded coffee drinkers too (Discovering Coffee). Together, they also run one of the most effective female focused digital groups in Israel, Women in Wireless, which helps women to grow through empowerment, inspiration and connections.
64. Dina Pinner, Yael Ukeles, Dvora Ross: Co-founders of KayamaMoms. Founded in 2011, KayamaMoms creates a supportive community for mothers by choice across the Jewish world. KayamaMoms runs various social media groups, some for supporters, others completely private, for anyone anywhere along the single-mother-by-choice journey. In addition to other work, KayamaMoms meets twice a month and holds regular meetings to educate the wider community about this awesome choice. Dvori is a proud mom of three teens, and Yael of a 5-year-old son. Dina lives with her partner Elimelech, whom she met during the planning stages of KayamaMoms, and they hope to be blessed with children.
65. Sharon Altshul
Founder, The Real Jerusalem Streets, a popular photo blog with scenes of what is really happening in Jerusalem. Sharon is also a regular contributor to israellycool and the Baltimore Jewish Life. Sharon gives walking phototours of different Jerusalem neighborhoods and she especially likes to showcase start-ups, the growing Jerusalem tech scene, and female entrepreneurs and their accomplishments. Proud mom to six and grandmother to more.
66. Debbie Gross
Founder and director of Tahel — Crisis Center for Religious Women and Children. Debbie has been one of the trailblazers in the religious community in the areas of domestic violence and child sexual abuse. She has developed an educational workshop program to give children and teenagers the skills to recognize and prevent sexual abuse and domestic violence. She has been an activist, helping communities throughout the world to set up protocols to protect women and children, and creating training programs for rabbis and religious professionals. In the Tahel Center, Debbie created a crisis intervention hotline and has trained hundreds of volunteers in the different aspects of crisis intervention, both on the phone and for follow-up meetings with victims and their families. Debbie lives in Efrat and is the mother of six children and the grandmother of twelve.
67. Sharon Katz
Film production manager of Shoot East productions and Torah Live, founder of four women’s performance companies: Raise Your Spirits (2001), Dames of the Dance (2007), NOARoked (2014) and the Women’s Performance Community of Jerusalem (co-founder 2015). Shoot East films international projects in Israel, and Torah Live is leading a communications revolution in Jewish education with exciting and cutting-edge full length motion pictures on mitzvot (commandments) and Jewish values, while showcasing the beauty of Israel.
68. Ahava Emunah Lange
Young wife and mother to five beautiful children. Living with ovarian cancer for the past four years, and since her diagnosis, made the decision to see her journey not as “a warrior or a soldier,” but as “a lover and a lifer.” With her infectious smile, warm presence, and positive outlook, she has been known to uplift the other patients in the Chemo Lounge, while she, herself, is receiving chemotherapy. In her “down-time,” she fundraises for families of terror victims and Tishkofet Gisha L’Chaim (Life’s Door), an organization for people with life-threatening illnesses. Whether you are blessed to know Ahava personally, read her blog, or her regular articles for hevria.com, you know that she is as real as it gets with her ability to balance sharing raw emotions, while creating avalanches of happiness with her hashtag #happylanche. In the words of Ahuva: “Pass it on…. random and directed acts of kindness will save the world! Curing the world with kindness, one act at a time…We each have the ability to sparkle and uplift our own souls. By making our own souls “juicy”, we heal the world.”
Please join me in praying for the complete and speedy recovery of Ahava Emunah bat Chava Ehta and all of the sick of Israel.
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I hope you are as inspired as I am by the extraordinary women featured here, the women whom you choose to surround yourself with, and the paths you choose for yourself for the future.
Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.” — Golda Meir, Israel’s 4th Prime Minister.
This post would not have been possible without the generous contributions and work of numerous ImaKadima members throughout the country. All photographs have been personally provided for this article except where otherwise noted. This list was organized and determined by me and is in no way a reflection on the Times of Israel. Compilation of this list was a labor of love and as such, all omissions, mistakes and errors are my own. In addition, the “order” of the women on this list is entirely random — I consider each one of the women here extraordinary. “Cover art” makeup and design by Sara Levy.
- American Jewry
- Conservative Judaism
- Death and Mourning
- Independence Day
- International Women's Day
- Israel Programs
- Israeli Economy
- Jewish Education
- Jewish Law - Halacha
- Orthodox Judaism
- Reform Judaism
- Sex and Intimacy
- Special Needs
- Start-Up Israel
- Women & Judaism