Happy 70th Birthday Israel!
Our land of hopes and dreams, millennia of yearning and prayer, and salvation.
As we reach this incredible milestone, I’m forced to think about the generations that came before us, their want and need of safety, home, purpose, spirit, tradition, and family.
What causes someone to leave everything they have known before and take a chance? A chance of a fledgling country, on finding and fitting in somewhere new, or a start-up nation wonder while battling a totally different language, culture and fate than everything they have ever known before?
Courage, conviction, resolve, belief, and most importantly HOPE is what makes our journey possible. Hope that together we can build something better, provide a better future, help others, enhance lives, affect change.
I’m proud and honored to present 70 Extraordinary Women of Israel. Women who have chosen to make Israel their home and uplift all of us along their unique journeys.
1. Miriam Peretz
A mother of Israel, Miriam Peretz has known more sorrow and loss than any mother deserves to know. Losing two of her sons in IDF service. Her story is a journey of determination, faith and heartbreaking tragedy, much like the tale of modern Israel. Miriam, raised her family with a love of the Jewish people and a desire to protect their homeland. Miriam’s oldest son, Uriel, a commander of an IDF Golani Special Forces Unit was fatally wounded by an explosive device planted by Hezbollah terrorists in 1998 at age 22. Despite a law exempting siblings of a fallen soldier from military service, Miriam’s sons opted to serve. A decade later, Miriam lost her second son, Eliraz, a Major in the Golani brigade, in an exchange of fire between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian fighters in the Gaza Strip. He died almost 12 years after he eulogized his older brother with these words:
“Sometimes we pay a price for doing the right thing. The price of life.”
2. Cheryl Mandel
Born in Toronto, Canada, the same year as the State of Israel was born. Happy Birthday Cheryl! In 1987, she and her husband moved to Israel with their young family. Cheryl is an active member of her community and a founding dancer in both Raise Your Spirits Women’s Community Theatre and Dames of the Dance. In April 2003, Daniel, their middle son, was killed while arresting terrorists in Nablus. A charismatic young IDF officer of 24, his life and death continues to influence and inspire many people. Following Daniel’s murder, Cheryl has spoken in English and Hebrew both in Israel and overseas about her love of Daniel z”l and her love and commitment to Israel. Cheryl speaks to foreign armies that are visiting Israel to talk about the relationship between the army and bereaved families on behalf of the IDF. She has initiated and raised money for projects in Daniel’s memory via Tzevet Daniel for the Jerusalem Marathon. Currently, in addition to the speaking that she does, she is teaching ‘60s dancing to bereaved women, giving workshops on “The Dance of Coping” and enjoying her children and 11 grandchildren.
3. Chaya and Miriam (Miki) Bina-Katz
It seems like just yesterday, my friend Chaya was posting pictures of their latest family adventure during vacation. A few weeks later, Miki (Miriam), her darling 10-year-old daughter would be diagnosed with bone cancer and preparing for the fight of her life. What else can a mother do but gather her family close and pray? She can gather the strength of their community and of the world around them too. That is exactly what Chaya has done. Showering Miki and her siblings with constant love, sharing Miki’s cancer journey with the world and uniting an entire team of Miki supporters from every corner of the globe. I still remember how Chaya posted a video from one of Miki’s earliest chemo treatments where her siblings had come to visit and danced with their sister, to a choreographed song. Miki’s hanging IV bag and surrounding medical staff and all. Chaya, sharing your story has helped us all understand what it means to be a family fighting together and how the power of community can help in every situation. I know everyone reading joins me in wishing Miki (Miriam bat Chaya) a fast and complete recovery.
4. Bayli Dukes
Cpl. Bayli Dukes is an 06 certified infantry lone soldier in the Karakal battalion in the Israeli Defense Forces. She was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and grew up in Toronto, in a very Zionist environment. Joining the IDF to help Israel was Bayli’s dream from the age of 12. At the age of 19, she couldn’t wait any longer and decided to make aliyah and draft. She made aliyah with Garin Tzabar in December 2016 at the age of 20, and drafted to Karakal in March 2017. Being a combat soldier had always been her intention; she wanted to be out in the field helping protect Israeli citizens and prevent terrorist attacks and be able to see the results of her efforts right in front of her. She received specialized certifications in the use of the M-203 grenade launcher and the Mavick surveillance drone throughout her training, which she thoroughly enjoyed. Bayli currently works to guard the Egyptian border and prevent smuggling attempts and terrorist attacks. She hopes to be sent to join the Commander course in July of this year.
5. Anita Weisfeld
At the age of 3 in Poland, Anita Weisfeld knew enough to hide from the heavy Nazi boots of the “Aktion” to round up and kill Jews she heard at her doorstep in the ghetto. At home alone, her parents at work camp, the act of hiding herself in the closet saved her life. Her parents thought she had been taken and killed, but later found her asleep in the closet. Later that same year in a street selection process, she was picked to the line of “useless Jews” and separated from her mother. As she was crying, her mother called her name — “Anita” and by doing so saved her life, as the girlfriend of the soldier doing the selection was named Anita — so he spared her. Anita and her parents survived the Holocaust. Sadly, her mother was killed a month after the war ended by a stray bullet shot by a drunk Russian soldier. Anita made aliyah by boat 1957 and decided to dedicate her life to helping others. She joined the Bellinson nursing school and eventually managed Israel’s largest HMO (Kupat Holim) central region nursing services. For her work, Anita was awarded the Kaplan Award, the highest award granted for work performance and impact on the country, given by the president of Israel. Today, Anita lives with her husband (and boyfriend from the age of 12) Josef in Hod Hasharon. Together, they have three grown children and nine grandchildren. Anita feels she is the luckiest and happiest person on earth. May we all merit to approach to life like Anita!
6. Shoshi Jambar
Born to Ethiopian parents, Shoshi grew up under challenging circumstances in the South of Israel. After a stint as a supermarket cashier, at age 28, Shoshi was forced to take on a position as a cleaner working the night shift. Two years later, with no degree or professional background, Shoshi worked her way up to a managerial position in one of Israel’s leading start-ups, WalkMe. While cleaning WalkMe offices during the night shift, she became friends with the sales team. She bluffed her way into a QA position with the incredible help of the sales team, without knowing a line of code or any testing tools using the philosophy that she was just as good as anyone else, and could and would prove herself by working hard. She did just that. Shoshi continues to inspire every immigrant, and disadvantaged member of society by proving that the chance exists for success and self-improvement. You have to work hard and take your chances. Shoshi now serves as the Mobile Operations Manager/Coordinator at WalkMe.
7. Miriam Ballin
Founder and National Director of the United Hatzalah Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit. Originally hailing from Houston, Texas, and San Francisco, California, Miriam spent five years in Australia before moving to Israel with her husband and 5 children. Miriam also accrued 10 years of experience in Emergency Medical Services, first as a dispatcher and later as a certified Emergency Medical Technician and licensed ambulance driver for United Hatzalah, winning the United Hatzalah Outstanding Medic Award two years in a row. Miriam was the first woman to achieve this feat. She even brought her expertise to two recent aid missions following Hurricane Harvey and Irma, this past September. Miriam manages more than 450 volunteers across the country of who specialize in providing psychological First Aid in the minutes following a traumatic emergency. Additionally, Miriam has built a hotline and clinic in which any of United Hatzalah’s 4,000 medics can seek emotional support thereby ensuring the emotional health of our own volunteers.
8. Shana Aaronson
Shana was born in Detroit and moved to Beit Shemesh with her family at age 12. By age 14, after personally experiencing the challenges that so many adolescent olim face, Shana made the decision that she wanted to work with with at-risk youth. By 20, Shana was working as the assistant director of Tzofiah, supervising staff, and facilitating groups and programs. In this capacity she repeatedly confronted situations of sexual assault, rape, and incest from within the Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, and the notable lack of support, awareness, and resources that were available. She was recruited to Jewish Community Watch, and over the last few years, Shana has established JCW in Israel as a leading organization combating child sexual abuse in the country. She has taken the lead on hundreds of cases working with the police, courts, private investigators and mental health services on behalf of victims from communities all over the country.
9. Tabea Oppilger
Tabea Oppilger is the visionary and pioneering spirit behind the social business A.I.R. — kite.pride. She first founded Glowbalact, an NGO that was birthed as a result of a deep, personal sense of obligation to address the rampant issue of sex trafficking and the sexual exploitation of women world-wide. Tabea now lives in Tel Aviv, Israel with her husband and their three children. Coming alongside other organizations, Tabea and her team soon realized that what the rescued victims needed was not just another shelter, but jobs to be able to stand on their own two feet again. They started up A.I.R. – kite.pride, a social business which offers safe employment for ex-victims of the sex industry in a factory type work studio. They add value to high performance materials that were heading for the trash and value to lives of people in need of new hope. Kitesurf sails are repurposed into trendy, lightweight, durable and unique products. By creating jobs that boost people back into the work force, Tabea supports men and women exiting the sex industry as they learn to live a new life in a safe and protected environment, teaching them teamwork, reliability and independence while at the same time allowing them to work through past trauma.
10. Rachel Stomel
Originally hailing from Los Angeles, Rachel Stomel advocates for women’s rights and issues of religion and state in Israel. After years of living as an agunah (chained woman), Rachel combined first-hand experience with ideological passion to launch a career committed to the rights of Jewish women. Rachel works at the Center for Women’s Justice, a legal advocacy group ensuring the civil liberties of agunot, converts and other individuals whose rights are compromised by state-backed religious overreach. She is also co-founder of Chochmat Nashim, an initiative of religious women combating the systemic absence and exclusion of women from the Jewish conversation. She strategically shifts public discourse through creative media campaigns, her blog, bimonthly podcast and social events.
11. Mariela Yabo Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina , Mariela was diagnosed with SMA, a type of neuromuscular disorder, before the age of 2. She made aliyah with her parents at age 13, where they found Israel was more suitable for her wheelchair. However, she was determined to help people with disabilities feel truly independent. She is a graduate student and teaching assistant in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology of Tel Aviv University, as well as the coordinator of the Disability Studies Community at the Israeli Sociology Society. Mariela just finished her thesis about the implementation of the Accessibility Regulations in Tel Aviv-Jaffa. As part of her effort to research, write and advise in order to make the general environment a place open for all kinds of people, feminism has come to play a bigger role in her life.
12. Joanna Landau
Born in London, Joanna moved to Israel with her family at the age of 5. After serving in the IDF as a paramedic, Joanna read law at Cambridge University where she gained her BA and MA degrees. Joanna also holds an MBA, cum laude, from the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center in Israel. Joanna worked as a lawyer in the high-tech industry and established two Tel-Aviv based Internet start-ups. In 2009, Joanna founded Vibe Israel (formerly Kinetis), to change the way people think and feel about Israel, and has been leading Vibe ever since. In 2016 Vibe Israel was a finalist in a prestigious international competition by City Nation Place, the global forum of place branding experts, for the Best Use of Social Media in Place Branding Award. Joanna is a governor of Tel Aviv University, a member of the International Education Committee of Taglit-Birthright, and a board member of the Brand Israel Group in New York. In 2015, Joanna was shortlisted for the Rappaport Prize for a Change Making Woman, and in 2016 she won the popular vote for the most influential woman in management and business, recognized by Saloona, Israel’s leading women’s online magazine. In 2017, Joanna was listed by Forbes Israel as one of the 50 most influential women in Israel. Joanna, her husband, and their three children make their home in Tel Aviv.
13. Shari Mendes
Shari, her husband David and their four children made aliyah in 2003 from New Jersey. In 2011, Shari founded the ESRA Lemonade Fund, a year to the day after she was diagnosed with breast cancer. During that hard year, Shari personally saw that there were many non-medical expenses that accompanied a serious illness and she wondered how needy breast cancer patients could possibly manage it all. Thus was born, the ESRA Lemonade Fund, Israel’s first and only breast cancer emergency relief fund. In the past six and a half years, the ESRA Lemonade Fund has grown and has given financial assistance to hundreds of indigent Israeli breast cancer patients throughout the country (regardless of race, religion, age or sex (1% of breast cancers occur in men!) so that they can relax and focus on recovery. Donors from within Israel and around the world come together to support the Lemonade Fund in their mission to give financial assistance to the neediest patients. Thanks to the efforts of many, the ESRA Lemonade Fund has become a well-known address for breast cancer support in Israel and eased the recovery process for countless patients who have been able to rely on the fund for financial support. Please, donate to Lemonade Fund!
14. Zehava Arky
Raised in Atlanta, The Philippines, Mexico, LA and Spain, Zehava is now a content and grant writer for OR Movement, a non-profit developing the Negev and Galilee as prosperous centers in Israel for healthy demographic growth and sustainability. Zehava is also co-founder of HubSheva, a shared community workspace for working parents. Providing holistic solutions for the working parent including on-site childcare, classes and lectures, meeting rooms, event space, and a networking community. HubSheva was established in partnership with the social entrepreneurship projects of Eretz Ir, a nonprofit that aims to enrich cities in Israel’s periphery through community and entrepreneurial initiatives. In Zehava’s words, “Community is an essential foundation for creating a cooperative and sustainable society. Empower working parents, economically and socially by providing communal services geared towards assisting working parents. The key to success is if you see something lacking in your community, then take action. Don’t think, what can Israel do for me instead look and think what can I do for Israel. Zehava, her husband and their young son make their home in Neve Chabad in the Negev.
15. Dr. Yael Maizels
Proud mother of five, Yael holds a BA in Biology and Jewish History from UPenn and completed her PhD at Hebrew University in Developmental and Cancer Biology. Yael spent over a decade engrossed in cancer research first in Hebrew University and then in Ariel University. Her work was published in several peer reviewed scientific journals before her cancer research evolved into a position teaching in Ariel University. Yael is a sought-after lecturer for her ability to convey science in a clear and understandable way to her students and enjoys engaging people of all ages and stages in the wonders of science. Yael is also an eager student and teacher of Torah, giving classes in English and Hebrew to women, men and children at Kehillat Ohel Efraim where her husband serves as rav. She particularly enjoys the opportunity to merge her knowledge of biology and Torah.
16. Tanya Prochko
Tanya holds an MEd, MFT is the Founder and director of Get Help Israel, The Association for English-Speaking Mental Health Professionals. After moving to Israel in 2012, Tanya started an informal network for English-speaking mental health professionals to get the guidance that one needs when starting a career in a new country, but quickly saw that there was something crucial missing in the mental health field in Israel — both for the immigrant population that was falling through the cracks when seeking mental health services, as well as for the professionals who needed guidance in understanding the system to build their practices. Within three years of moving here, Tanya started Get Help Israel — now a trusted resource that provides the public with easy access to qualified English-speaking mental health professionals throughout the country. Clients can feel confident using GHI as a resource because they know that it represents a high standard of professionalism, and only includes details of professionals whose credentials have been verified. Get Help Israel now includes more than 200 vetted professional members, including psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors, psychotherapists, life coaches, assessment specialists, and helps thousands of English-speakers from around the country find the right mental health care they need.
17. Beatie Deutsch
Mother of five young children, Beatie serves as the director of Follow Up for Olami, a global non-profit partnering with Jewish outreach organizations around the world. In her spare time, she has trained and run three marathons, including her now famous first-place finish in the Jerusalem marathon as the fastest Israeli woman this year and successful run last year while heavily pregnant. Deutsch has used her running as a platform to spread kindness and charity. Before running the Jerusalem marathon she started a campaign to raise money for Beit Daniella, an initiative in memory of her cousin Daniella Pardes, who lost her life to anorexia four months ago. The goal of the campaign is to build a therapeutic rehab center for youth dealing with emotional challenges. Beatie ran the marathon in Daniella’s memory and has so far raised over $15,000.
18. Dr Peri Millman
Born, raised, educated and trained in New York, Peri is a pediatric gastroenterologist specializing in pediatric issues, including feeding and swallowing disorders and complex inflammatory bowel disease. Peri’s expertise in feeding and swallowing disorders emerged early in her career, as she realized her unique position as a breastfeeding mother and pediatric gastroenterologist enabled her to better support nursing mothers in the face of medical challenges. Peri previously served as director of a new Pediatric Gastroenterology Division at New York Presbyterian Queens, that included spearheading a multidisciplinary Pediatric Feeding & Swallowing Center. Peri and her family made aliyah in 2013, and Peri now works at Hadassah Hospital where she serves as the director of both Pediatric Endoscopy and Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, and as the specializing gastroenterologist in Hadassah’s Pediatric Feeding Clinic. Peri works hard to merge the efficient ingenuity of Israeli health care with the comforting bedside manner and close patient relationships that are the hallmark of her care.
19. Jodi Samuels
Originally from New York City, Jodi has over 20 years of management and startup experience working in not-for-profit and for-profit businesses including finance, fashion and beauty sectors. Jodi successfully started two non-profit Jewish organizations including the Jewish International Connection NY (JICNY) in 2001 that currently boasts 10,000 members from 40 countries and runs sold-out events in the New York, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Jodi recently sold her online marketing business jmediaconnections where she had successfully built jdeal NY, Buy Israel Week, jgives and jblasts. In addition to being a community activist, Jodi has a passion for moving the needle on inclusion in the special needs world. Jodi has devoted hundreds of hours in making sure her daughter Caila is fully included in Israeli society and receives the support necessary to be included in a regular school. To this end, she developed and maintain a Facebook advocacy page called Cailysworld, and she writes a popular blog on Metroimma. Jodi is a mother of three great kids and she and her husband Gavin live in Jerusalem. The Samuels are world renowned for graciously hosting hundreds of people every month for Shabbat meals and events in their home.
20. Julie Rothschild Levi
Originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota, Julie and her family moved to Rehovot in 2012. A writer and editor, Julie sought to reconnect with her performing roots in a meaningful way. Struggling with her own depression, she decided to learn to become a medical clown, to help bring light to those in darker places — battered women’s shelters, nursing homes, and hospitals — as well as to herself. For the past few years, Julie (aka, Funnie the Clown) has volunteered in Tel Hashomer-Sheba Hospital’s outpatient burns/scars and orthopedics clinics, mainly with children. Julie is working on a burn prevention video for young children, and gives medical clowning workshops to groups, teaching how anyone can incorporate the psychological and fun concepts of clowning into their own lives. Julie is also a member of ABSOLUTe Improv, an all-female troupe.
21. Shari Wright Pilo
Born in Hamilton, Ontario in Canada, Shari made aliyah on her own at the age of 18. With more than 20 years of marketing experience and a blogging pioneer, Shari brings a wealth of proven experience in offline, online, and social media channels, including creation and implementation of digital strategies and campaigns by utilizing blogs, blogger outreach, and social media network management. For the past 10 years Shari has focused her efforts on helping small businesses, entrepreneurs and start-ups with their marketing strategy and implementation. Her mission is to eliminate the fear of internet marketing for small businesses. She lectures across the country and has mentored hundreds of olim-owned small businesses and entrepreneurs through her highly sought after work with Mati Jerusalem.
22. Dr. Tamar Weyel
Tamar Berenstein Weyel came to Israel 12 years ago, while in her 30s. Tamar was born in Argentina, graduated as a physician from the University of Buenos Aires and finished residency at the Navy Hospital as an orthopedic surgeon. After meeting her husband (a native Israeli), Tamar decided to make aliyah. Together, they have 7 children and make their home in Beit Shemesh. Tamar has focused her practice as a pediatric orthopedist surgeon and works in the Pediatric Orthopedic Unit at the Shaare Zedek Medical Center. Even with the busy life as a surgeon and mom to a large family, Tamar is known for her incredible level of care to her patients and her own family, but she also makes taking care of herself a priority. You can find her nearly every single day at the gym.
23. Dr Karen Friedman
With a doctorate from Harvard University, Karen is a working psychologist and mother to eight. Karen is the founding director of Keren Gefen Mind/Body Fertility Organization and the Rimon Mind/Body Fertility Center at Hadassah Mount Scopus, which provide psychological and emotional support for fertility-challenged women in Israel at no, or minimal, cost. The Gefen Center is a beautiful space in the German Colony in Jerusalem, where fertility challenged women are nurtured and supported. The center serves as a teaching resource to share its unique vision and innovative programs with Jewish communities throughout the world.
24. Fleur Hassan-Nahoum
Fleur grew up in Gibraltar and studied law at Kings College, London University. She qualified as a barrister in 1997 and practiced law in London before becoming the campaign director of World Jewish Relief. In 2001, along with her husband, Fleur made aliyah and was recruited by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee where she served as a senior associate in resource development for six years. Later, Fleur became the executive director of Tikvah Children’s Home, an organization rescuing abandoned and abused children from the FSU. May 2016, Fleur became a city councilor in Jerusalem and in February 2017, the leader of the opposition. Fleur is involved in the advancement of women and immigrant groups in the city. She is also involved in the development of Jerusalem as a hi tech ecosystem and the fight for a pluralistic Jerusalem.
25. Liz Cohen
VP Marketing at OurCrowd, the leading startup investing platform — bringing Israeli startups to investors from 112 countries. Liz is also one of the co-organizers behind Israel’s hottest startup investing conference, the OurCrowd Global Investor Summit. Last February, the conference broke records with 10,000+ people registered from 90+ countries, with 30% of the conference attendees foreign visitors who flocked to Jerusalem’s largest tech event to interact with Startup Nation in real time. Liz moved to Israel in January 2005 with the intention of helping to build Israel’s reputation by becoming a journalist, and got a job in high tech instead. Twelve years later, she realizes how far obituary-writing training can take someone, as she leads the team at a company not only supporting thousands of members of Israel’s startup ecosystem, but also helping Israeli innovators build a better world backed by thousands of venture capital investors from around the globe.
26. Tamar Yonah
Mother of five, wife of a rabbi and founder and managing director of IsraelNewsTalkRadio.com, the premier online English News-Talk radio station, from Israel. Known as a no-nonsense straight shooting radio talk show host, Tamar brings fire and light to the microphone, as well as a passion for Israel and Torah. She covers the news, political commentary and provides a platform for Israel’s voice and stories to be heard around the world. Tamar is the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, who after liberation made his way to the shores of the British Palestine Mandate, where again he fought for his survival in Israel’s War of Independence. Her father’s legacy made a deep impression on Tamar’s life and she too has fought for Israel by serving in both the Israeli Army and Air Force. Tamar spent over a decade working with Arutz Sheva’s Israel National Radio as one of the station’s most popular radio hosts and then took on the role of programming director. Today, her personally bootstrapped online radio station, celebrates three years and continues to grow. Four of Tamar’s five children are active duty soldiers in the IDF and her fifth child is a nurse.
27. Lisa Cohen
Lisa founded Amutat BRACHA in memory of her mother and sister and to raise awareness of the importance of genetic testing. In a single year, Lisa lost her mother to ovarian cancer, her sister to breast cancer, and discovered that she was at very high risk of hereditary cancer and underwent risk-reducing surgeries. Today, BRACHA works in all communities in Israel — Jewish, Muslim, and Christian — as well as internationally to raise awareness and save lives. Lisa believes that every person has the right to know their risk of hereditary cancer and have the opportunity to prevent it. The purpose of BRACHA is to raise awareness of the importance of genetic testing, to support and educate carriers of the mutation as well as those already diagnosed. Bracha organization operates 100% voluntarily so that every donation is used entirely for BRACHA activities such as for medical conferences, raising awareness events, social media programs, support groups and more.
28. Devora Mason
Devora Mason is the Director of the TOD Innovation Lab at the Tower of David Museum where she leads their digital technology strategy, focused on enhancing the visitor experience through the development and piloting of cutting edge AR/VR (Augmented and Virtual Reality) technology. The lab also focuses on accessibility tech solutions for integration into highly challenging locations including archaeological and preserved sites, cities and visitor centers. Devora made aliyah not once, but twice, from Canada and prides herself on being a single mom of five and on providing mentoring and support to startups and women in executive roles. She has been filmed for many online publications the most recent being a documentary produced by Beijing’s Qilin Productions, focusing on high tech leaders in Israel. Devora is personally driven by the concept of Tikkun Olam, a passion for Jerusalem and feels blessed to be actively involved in the development of Jerusalem’s tech ecosystem.
29. Shira Parshan
Shira made aliyah on her own at the age of 19, following her second year of sherut leumi, after spending time working in a residential children’s home village. Shira currently is a student in her third year at Bar Ilan University, majoring in educational administration, and minoring in Bible studies. Shira volunteers as a “Big Sister” to over 100 lone soldiers. Shira advocates for their rights and has taken it upon herself to help them furnish their apartments, visiting the soldiers at each of their bases with food, snacks, and equipment as needed, organizing events and get-togethers, and even making “relationship matches” between lone soldiers and finding them “adoptive” families.
30. Shara Ellenbogen
Originally from Charlotte, North Carolina, Shara made aliyah in 2005. Now a resident of Tel Aviv with her husband, Eyal, and their two children, Shara works as a marketing consultant developing and executing marketing plans for Israeli technology companies. As an immigrant without local parents and siblings, Shara found herself preparing for the birth of her first child and in need of her own “village” to help navigate the unfamiliar ins and outs of raising kids in Tel Aviv. She joined the Tel Aviv Parents’ Support Group (formerly the Tel Aviv Mommas’ Support Group) on Facebook and was invited to join the admin team. The group serves as its own “village” for nearly 7,000 immigrant parents to share ideas and support, ask questions and find answers. Through her work with the group, Shara soon connected with community members Chloe Sandler, Naomi Lanzkron and Celia Gould, to build Mothers Make a Difference (MMD). MMD was originally founded after seeing first hand the daily struggles faced by underprivileged mothers and their children living in South Tel Aviv, and has since grown and expanded to work in several communities throughout Israel. MMD volunteers coordinate the collection of in-kind donations from the English speaking community in Israel and oversee the distribution among partnering organizations.
31. Rivka Aminoff
Mother of five, MA graduate, educator and a dreamer! For as long as she can remember, Rivka has always worked and volunteered as an educator both in and out of the classroom. Over the past few years, Rivka recognized a growing need in the community for a program that addresses the unique set of issues and challenges facing immigrant teen girls. The focus of her studies and research has been to develop a program to build self-esteem and life-skills in girls who might otherwise be struggling. Rivka has a masters in Educational Leadership, as well as experience teaching and working with high-school students; both in mainstream schools and in programs for youth at risk. With the support of her husband, Rivka has spent the past six years living her dream and running Kol Hadassa for the benefit of teens and their families.
32. Rebecca Steinberg Herson
Owner of The Lean Marketer B2B consultancy, Rebecca has guided scores of Israeli companies in their strategic and tactical marketing. Most recently, Rebecca served as VP Marketing at Raanana-based Anodot, she built the marketing from scratch and within two years had generated hundreds of qualified meetings, dozens of new clients, analyst recognition and vast press coverage, including in the Wall Street Journal. As head of global marketing at the cyber startup Whale Communications (acquired by Microsoft), she was instrumental in establishing the company as a recognized leader in its field. Rebecca is a frequent speaker at industry events, and in her spare time, as a volunteer, she mentors in accelerators such as the Microsoft Accelerator Tel Aviv. She also helps mid-career olim get on their feet in Israel as a volunteer mentor with the non-profit organization Gvahim.
33. Susi Dorig Preston
Thirteen years ago, US-born Susi found herself in Israel, when her then-fiancée was killed during his milium service. Since then, Susi has had the opportunity to give back to the organizations that helped her as she rebuilt her life in Israel. Susi serves as a public speaker and handles the foreign relations for the Girlfriends of Fallen IDF Soldiers (GFIDF). The GFIDF was established in 1998, and serves as the only organization in Israel that caters to the unmarried partners of fallen soldiers. Since its inception, the GFIDF has supported over 400 women in rebuilding their lives after their devastating loss. The GFIDF has succeeded in gaining official recognition for unmarried partners of fallen IDF soldiers. Susi is also a board member for ATZUM, an organization established in 2002 to remedy injustices in Israeli society, and encourage individuals to become social activists and agents of change. ATZUM has led the battle in engaging the Israeli government, enforcement agencies and the public to confront and eradicate human trafficking. Most recently, ATZUM dedicated its resources to fight for the protection of refugees and asylum seekers in Israel. She and her husband David have three children.
34. Marina Boykis
Originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota, Marina and her family make their home in Tel Aviv. She’s married to David Chetrit, and they are the parent of two sweet boys. After making aliyah in 2009, Marina voluntarily served in the IDF as a senior writer for the Spokesperson Unit’s New Media Department, and served as a liaison to international press and blogger community. After the IDF, she brought her experience to Israel’s tech community. In one of her tech roles at BillGuard, she built a community of 10,000 brand ambassadors. In 2013, she was selected as one of Geektime’s Startup Marketers of the Year. Marina was asked to return to the IDF as a civilian and lead the IDF’s global digital department, which is a global military leader in online innovation. Following that, she opened a creative agency that works with big tech brands.
35. Tracey Shipley
Tracey began her activism while she was in still in high school in Florida, where she organized the first Holocaust Exhibit in the high school system. Later, she formed Jewish/Zionist organizations in all of them and was regional coordinator for the Midwest division of AZYF (The American Zionist Youth Foundation) on college campuses. Tracey moved to Israel in 1983 and attended The Ramat HaNegev Jewish Art school. Later, in collaboration with the Jerusalem Children’s Opera, she created a music program for the children of the Arab patients during the Intifada when they could not sing in their own villages. During this time, Tracey was approached by the city’s Arts Department and asked to “save” the Arab Jewish Youth Orchestra formed by Teddy Kollek. Tracey managed to bring together leaders of the Jerusalem Arab community who assisted her in recruiting dozens of children for the program. She founded the Parenting column of the Jerusalem Post and has been writing monthly parenting articles about handling teens and young adults for more than two years.
36. Deena Levenstein
Deena moved to Jerusalem from Toronto at the age of 11 with her parents and four siblings. After majoring in music and piano in high school, she made her first big switch and went for a B.Sc. in nutrition from the Hebrew University in Rechovot. Deena co-managed many of the city’s official online event resources including iTravelJerusalem, Ha’ira (RIP), Jerusalem’s Night Guide (semi-RIP) the Israel Museum’s website, and her own initiative, JLMvibe. Recently, she found a position at Shalva — The Israel Association for the Care and Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities. She has since taken on the role of Shalva Band concert and tour coordinator as well, organizing the monumental world tour of the band of people with disabilities at the end of 2017.
37. Shira Kallus Zwebner
Offering up a fresh, raw, honest view of what it means to battle cancer as an immigrant wife, mother and woman in Israel. Shira has shared her grueling journey through bone marrow biopsies and six rounds of R-CHOP chemo, night after night of prednisone inflicted night sweats and insomnia, daily Clexane injections, and hours of bone pain from neupogen, weekly PICC line cleaning and the loss of what she describes as formerly a head full of Jewfro hair. From the depths of her suffering, her blog leaves me in tears with each post I read. What is the real meaning of redemption, of freedom, of celebration in a community in the face of such pain? Please join me in praying for her complete recovery: Lior Shira Batya bat Chaya Yehudit
38. Shari (Zissel) Gitel
Originally from St. Louis, Zissel she worked as a medical assistant for internists and neurologists in the US before making aliyah with her husband and three daughters in 1986. In Israel, her career restarted as the administrative assistant to the president of Jerusalem College of Technology – Machon Lev. After retirement, Zissie was devoted to caring for her elderly parents and mother-in-law, during which time she became attuned to the need for sensitivity training for medical personnel and caregivers, particularly in the field of dementia and patients with motor disabilities. Together with her husband, Sandy, she founded the non-profit organization In Their Shoes to provide training to professionals in the field of geriatrics, family caregivers, those in contact with the elderly. After gaining certification in conducting the Virtual Dementia Tour® and Music and Memory program, Zissel began giving workshops in the Ministry of Health, nursing homes, hospitals, kupot cholim, senior day care centers, and continuing education courses throughout Israel. Zissel is committed to raising awareness of the need for dignified and empathic care through providing caregivers with a hands-on experience of what it is like to be totally dependent upon someone else for their daily needs and assuring that our nations elders receive the respect they so rightfully deserve. www.hipstermomblog.com
39. Tzippy Oppenheim
Originally from Chicago, Tzippy made aliyah in 1982 and has moved across Israel several times since. After finding their forever home, she has been living in the same small community in the Lower Galilee of Mitzpe Netofa, with her three-generational family, for the past 25 years. A part of the Nefesh B’Nefesh Go North team since 2009, and currently director of Go Beyond — North, Tzippy works with new immigrants looking to make aliyah to the north of Israel and ensuring their transition into the region is a smooth one. “My favorite part of working for Nefesh B’Nefesh is without a doubt getting to know so many inspiring Olim in the North, watching them fall in love with this amazing region while accompanying them on this tremendous aliyah journey!” Tzippy followed another passion and over 12 years ago trained to be a lactation adviser, mainly assisting new young mothers in her community. Tzippy is married to Yoel, and they are the proud parents of five (now eight with the addition of three amazing daughter in laws), and are proud grandparents of nine (so far!)…
40. Cherie Albucher
In 1992, at the age of 16, Cherie made aliyah from South Africa with her family. She served in the IDF and in 1999 met and married her native Israeli husband, with whom she has four children. It was Cherie’s dream to give something back to the immigrant community and in 2006 she became the official Anglo olim coordinator for the city of Modiin, working in conjunction with the Ministry of Absorption. In her position, she helped hundreds of families make aliyah to Modiin. After nine amazing years working for the aliyah department, Cherie decided it was time to take things to the next level and eight months later, she opened her own business: “Cherie Marketing Project Management.” Through her latest endeavor, she has assisted new immigrants in developing and marketing their new businesses while helping them successfully integrate into Israeli society.
41. Dr. Susan Weiss
Susan is an attorney and holds a PhD in Sociology and Anthropology. Passionate about women’s rights to equality, justice and dignity, she founded the Center for Women’s Justice (CWJ) in 2004 to uphold Jewish women’s rights both within the framework of religious law, and when religion and state clash. CWJ uses innovative, civil litigation to protect the rights of women held in marital captivity (agunot), stigmatized children (mamzerim), and converts whose conversions have been questioned by the State. Susan has been actively working to find solutions for the problems of Jewish women and divorce for over 20 years, first as a private attorney, then as the founder and director of Yad L’Isha from 1997-2004.
42. Netanya Carmi
Netanya Carmi grew up in the Detroit area and made aliyah 15 years ago, immediately after graduating from college. After losing four pregnancies, Netanya started an online support group in 2012 for women who have suffered pregnancy- and infant-loss, which now supports nearly 200 women in Israel and around the world. She also offers support to divorced/divorcing women and single moms, and opens her home to immigrants, students, lone soldiers, converts, people struggling with mental health issues, and anyone else who needs a place to spend a holiday or Shabbat (or random day of the week). In addition to providing support to individuals and communities, Netanya seeks to raise awareness and break stigmas surrounding topics such as infertility, pregnancy loss, divorce, single parenting and mental health challenges. Netanya lives in Jerusalem with her husband, Ophir, and their five children.
43. Gitty Beer
Gitty Beer’s life passion is the United Hatzalah Women’s Unit, which she founded and currently helps manage. In 2006, her husband Eli Beer, founded United Hatzalah with a goal of responding to medical emergencies within 90 seconds no matter where they occurred throughout Israel. As a certified medic, Gitty saw a dire need for female first responders. She started the unit to respond to the need from within the community and it expanded naturally from there. Currently there are 400 female medics throughout Israel in United Hatzalah and 50 of these women are specifically in United Hatzalah’s dedicated Women’s Unit. Their primary focus is on responding to sensitive obstetric and gynecologic related calls but also respond to other calls where a woman is specifically required or preferred.
44. Shawna Goodman Sone Shawna is a trained chef from the Institute of Culinary Education and The Natural Gourmet Cooking School in New York City. As the editor of Panache-Montreal’s Flair for Kosher Cooking, Shawna helped raise over $160 000 Canadian dollars for the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal Canada. Shawna is a chef instructor now living in Ra’anana with her husband the three sons after making aliyah in 2014 and now combines her love of cooking with her passion for philanthropy and giving back to community. Her cooking classes and tours celebrate Israel’s abundance (shefa) while raising awareness and mobilizing people to give of themselves and get involved in their community.
45. Caryn Andrews
Caryn immigrated to Israel from Baltimore, Maryland, in 2011 and is a faculty member, researcher and nurse educator at Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem School of Nursing, Faculty of Medicine at Hebrew University for both bachelor’s and master’s students. Her biggest aliyah challenges were obtaining a registered nurse license and that her chosen profession — nurse practitioner — was not recognized in Israel. These challenges drove Dr. Andrews to advocate for nurse olim, and to promote nurse practitioner recognition and licensure in Israel. Caryn has also made a significant impact to health policy platform for nurse and NPs. She advocates for nurses at the Ministry of Health and Knesset trying to shorten the time between aliyah and beginning to work as a nurse. Beginning with her Facebook group and Amuta Nurses Making Aliyah, she has been instrumental in incorporating nurse olim into our hospitals and kupot, working with policy makers, lawyers and lobbyists to streamline the application process for foreign trained nursing licensure in Israel. Her work mentoring Israeli NP students is paving the way for the profession to be introduced here in Israel for the first time ever.
46. Rebecca Sigala
As Rebecca expanded her business and explored the world of photography, she came across boudoir photography which she felt combined many of her creative interests and abilities. She would define boudoir photography as intimate and empowering portraits for every woman. Even though this kind of photography has become popular in the United States, it is a newer idea for Israel and the communities within. Rebecca has worked with women who are going through medical treatments, survived cancer, women who have been sexually, emotionally and physically abused, and women who have suffered through years of infertility, eating disorders and more. She currently runs a supportive and empowering secret Facebook group and community of over 3,600 women, hosts workshops, and speaks in different cities on the importance of self-care, positive body image and connecting with our true selves. Through her highly regarded visual work, she has become an vocal advocate for women in Israel and around the world.
47. Hindy Ginsberg
After having twin girls in 2015, Hindy decided it was time for a career change. She was inspired by her sister’s fight of ALS to make a stylish bag to carry around bulky medical devices, which she now designs, manufactures and sells. Hindy is also the fundraising director of The Shirat Devorah ALS Foundation, a foundation started shortly after her sister’s diagnosis of ALS. The foundation helps families that are struggling with ALS deal with the financial strain that can put on a family and contributes to research conducted world wide to help find a cure. When Hindy is not running marathons, raising money, or running her business, she volunteers as a yoetzet halachah and raises her four children together with her very supportive husband, Mark.
48. Sharon Beth-Halachmy
Sharon practiced corporate law in the USA for 15 years, but her passion was always social justice. When she moved to Israel, she decided to follow her heart and make a professional change. Inspired by the buzz of entrepreneurship in Israel, she explored where she could make a difference, landing on the world of improving the quality of life for seniors in Israel. So many seniors, she saw, were not getting the care they needed and deserved. Transforming herself into a socialpreneur, in 2014, Sharon introduced to Israel the American concept and practice of geriatric care management. Sharon currently directs an organization of hand-picked care managers who coordinate and monitor the full spectrum of care and services seniors need for optimal aging — tying together medical care, home safety, government benefits, care in the home, social interaction and legal counsel. Her organization is called “B’Lev Shalem” (with a full heart) and Sharon is a living, breathing example of a heart that is pulsating with the desire to better the lives of the people who gave and built for Israeli society for us and our future generations.
49. Susie Mayerfeld
Originally from New York, Susie made aliyah with her husband and 1-year-old son at the age of 21. After moving to Oranit in central Israel, Susie worked for 22 years as an emergency room nurse and then an outpatient oncology nurse in Beilinson Hospital. Since leaving her post as assistant head nurse of the Outpatient Oncology Unit, Susie has been working part time in a nurse’s clinic in Maccabi Health Fund while pursuing her long time dream of studying alternative medicine. Susie has been been published under her alias Susie Newday in many places including The Jerusalem Post, the Huffington Post, The Times of Israel and World Moms Network where she also served in the past as Middle East regional editor. Along with her husband, she has raised five amazing children in Israel, and has had the fortune of adding two amazing daughter-in-laws and one delicious granddaughter to the family.
50. Abby Kra Friedman
In 2005, Abby and her husband, Dov, came to Israel to follow their dream. Abby worked as a midwife and childbirth educator at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital for six years, helping to deliver thousands of babies. She also worked in the Kupat Cholim system as both a general and a Tipat Chalav nurse. Abby now teaches women’s health to nursing students at Henrietta Szold School of Nursing at Hadassah and Hebrew University. In addition, she volunteers with nurse-olim through Nurses Making Aliyah and Nurse Practitioners Making Aliyah. Abby is also currently the director of Special Projects in Israel program to train Israeli nurses to be family nurse practitioners and to bring this new role to Israel. The program has pushed the Ministry of Health to recognize and implement the role of the NP within the Kupot Holim system and to recognize foreign-trained nurse practitioners. The project will effectively change the face of the Israeli healthcare system for day to day visits, and allow for foreign-trained NPs to find meaningful work here in Israel.
51. Judith (Meghnagi) Gerzi
Judith made aliyah from London, England with her husband and 3-year-old daughter. Growing up religious, and extremely shy, she never imagined she would become a sought-after soul singer with her self – taught style. Her career is somewhat unexpected for a rebbetzin (rabbi’s wife). Now mother to a growing family of seven, Judith gains strength from the Biale Rebbe to embrace her gift of song from G-d and connection to women from all walks of life. Judith’s recognizes that we come from 12 tribes and that the Jewish people were always different and are still meant to have differences today. To Judith, the key to finding common ground is about respecting one another and looking within ourselves and not looking to fault others. Judith has already been compared to some of the greatest female singers in history and recently released her debut album “Awakening.” This past year, Judith helped open the new music division of the already well established RBS Music Academy, providing self confidence, encouragement and a place for young aspiring performers to express and explore their talents.
52. Debbie Sassen
Ten years ago, Debbie Sassen left the Bank of Israel and began working with individuals and families to help them find order and empowerment in their personal finances. Helping people and especially women take charge of their money enables them to get out of debt, earn and save more, invest intelligently, build wealth and give generously. It also helps people reduce financial anxiety and feel peace of mind. Debbie brings to her work expert knowledge of investment options, money markets, uniquely combined with a deeper insight into what’s really holding people back from taking financial flight. Debbie works with clients 1:1 and through her signature online classes Smart Women Build Wealth and Investing Made Simple. She strongly believes that stepping into your value and worth as a personal is part and parcel of owning your financial future.
53. Rachel Gang
As a teacher at the Negev Sinai School in Ramat Negev, Rachel has developed a curriculum for native English speakers and piloted mindful, social-emotional and project-based learning among non-native English speakers. Rachel taught English in Israel’s periphery for three summers with the TALMA summer program before returning in August 2017 to pioneer its full-year program in Mitzpe Ramon. Prior to joining TALMA, Rachel served as a school social worker for Baltimore County Public Schools, and she previously taught early childhood education. A lifelong learner, Rachel plans to remain in Israel and aspires to combine her passions for social work and education while pursing a PhD in Social Work.
54. Nina Brenner
Nina is the CEO of Paint Party Events Israel. She moved to Israel alone with her 4-year-old son in 2009. Struggling as a single mom, she began teaching private art workshops for Anglos in Israel. In 2014, with her inspiring ambition as a guiding light, Nina pooled her resources and opened Paint Party Events in which she employs a unique method to guide all budding artists, no matter their skill level. Nina has strongly contributed to the art culture here in Israel in a very unique and special way. Paint Party Events allows anyone to become an artist, by teaching in a way that suits people of all levels. Nina has worked on specific programs for victims of terror, low income communities and schools, children’s orphanages, women shelters and and community building events around the country. She’s taught thousands of participants to believe in themselves and express themselves on canvas through her vision.
55. Lisa Barkan-Matitya
Lisa Barkan-Matitya came to Israel in 1987 with two suitcases, $500, Zionist ideals, and lots of energy. In her first few of years as a new immigrant, she learned Hebrew and developed marketing campaigns designed to attract hi-tech companies to the city of Jerusalem. This experience, together with her love for Jerusalem and its “village” atmosphere, ultimately inspired her to create Jerusalem Village, a social hub that brings together young Jewish adults through experiences that highlight the city’s vibrant diversity and complexity. She is also the creator of Shalom al Lechem, which facilitates tables of conversation using warm, home-hosted meals for young adults, in which they prepare the food and enjoy it together with old friends and new acquaintances from all walks of life. Lisa lives in Talpiot with her husband Moshe and their five children. She loves to cook, good wine, dancing, hiking, and watching StarTrek.
56. Rachel F Wanetik In the 17+ years since making aliyah, Rachel has worked in publishing, education, writing, PR, and reviewing restaurants. She has an MA in Religious Studies from Hebrew University, and a BA in Sociology/Gerontology from Rutgers University. She is a certified mixologist, a Montessori facilitator, and a massage and bodywork practitioner. She has led ice-breaker sessions, summer camp drama activities, English language instruction classes, themed birthday parties for children, college campus tours, clothing swaps, and random lost people to their elusive destinations. Rachel dreams in color, so in her waking life, she envisions a more dynamic connection between people, their environments, and food sources. She was therefore inspired to design an interactive mobile game bridging nature, tech, education, and reality. Rachel has acted in several community theater stage productions, and also writes openly about her experience with subfertility. She is currently writing about rising above and finding the silver linings of the stigmas associated with mental illness. She also works at PICO Jerusalem, as the events coordinator, office manager, and art exhibit curator.
57. Ruth Perednik
Originally hailing from England, Ruth is a child psychologist specializing in selective mutism, as well as child anxiety and emotional regulation. She has headed municipal and private clinics treating children and teens with selective mutism, and currently heads The Selective Mutism Treatment Center based in Jerusalem, treating children and teens throughout Israel and beyond. She has developed an empowering and effective treatment for selective mutism, based on cognitive-behavioural methods, that has helped thousands of children and teens overcome their selective mutism challenge. She supervises and trains other therapists, and has developed an online treatment course to treat children and teens across the globe.
58. Anna King
Anna King is a doula who specializes in cesarean prevention, VBAC birth (vaginal birth after cesarean) and “silent” (stillborn) births. Anna has helped more than 500 birthing women during the past 20 years, working to change attitudes in order to help make birth a safe and a positive experience for all. Since 2005, Anna has been helping educate women, encouraging them to be active participants in their birth experience, including asking more questions in order to get the best care possible. Her VBAC success rate is 98.5%, which is unmatched in the Jerusalem birth scene with post-cesarean women. As well as helping with regular births, Anna also saw a need for specialized doulas for vulnerable women experiencing a “silent” or stillborn birth. She accompanies these brave women making sure they and the baby are treated with the respect, dignity and care they deserve.
59. Alizah Hochstead (photo unavailable)
Raised in Cleveland, OH, Alizah tagged along on the long treks her mother would take to ensure that her family had the highest quality kosher food. “When I was just a baby, my mother and Rebbetzin Kazin would take me to milk the cows so that we would have Chalav Yisrael milk to drink.” At age 16, Alizah was already deep in the world of kashrut. In 1967, she made aliyah where she continued her journey. Married and then left as an agunah (chained wife) for 7.5 years, Alizah let nothing stop her. She has had a variety of important roles in kashrut including being a mashgicha (kosher supervisor) for several businesses and establishments and has continued to make a difference at creating better circumstances for businesses in need kashrut certification. She has set a true example for men and women concerned about keeping Jewish dietary laws. Alizah is a true pioneer for female kashrut supervisors all over the world.
60. Michla Lichy
Michla made aliyah in 2014 with her husband and 2 children, to join a seed group called Neve Chabad, working on building a new religious outreach and resort town in the Negev. Michla is the co-founder of the new HubSheva community workspace, a quiet, inclusive space for people to work, network, rent meeting room space, and have the option to use the on-site childcare available to them. The idea came from experiencing the lack of support and family resources that she and other freelancers, entrepreneurs and work from home parents were missing.
61. Elvia Fisher Meir
Elvia Fisher Meir came to Israel in 2007 in her first stop in an around-the-world trip. A psychology and business graduate from Roger Williams University, her entrepreneurial brain got to work in 2010 after recognizing the lack of English-speaking resources for families in central Tel Aviv. Elvia has spent the last seven years developing CityKids after school and nursery school programs which serve over 250 children weekly. Dedicated to play based education and the importance of the early years, Elvia serves as an advocate for quality education in Israel. She is proud to have brought such a resource to Tel Aviv and gets her inspiration from all the beautiful families and 22 teachers that come through the CityKids doors each day. Elvia, her husband, 1-year-old son Oz, and family dog Mystic make their home in Tel Aviv.
62. Deborah French
Deborah French lives with her husband Jonathan and five children in Tel Mond, having made aliyah from the UK in 2007. With a son on the autistic spectrum and a daughter with Down syndrome, Deborah has spent the past 10 years navigating the social and educational system to gain access to rights and facilities for both of her children. In 2010, Deborah and her husband established the Tel Mond Angels Baseball team and the Sunshine Dance Group for children with special needs, redefining the limitations that existed for children with special needs to be able to participate in afternoon activities in the area. 2013 saw the creation of Mazal L’Chayim, an extracurricular program that provided a platform through which students recognize preconceived ideas about others who look and behave differently to them; fueling prejudice and fear. Deborah works with her students to explore solutions to overcome the social restrictions this creates and plays a crucial part in re education that helps effect change.
63. Chaya Kasse Valier
Originally from Washington, DC, today Chaya lives in Jerusalem with her husband and five children. A doula and writer, she decided to combine both of these passions and create a groundbreaking book bringing the discussion of Postpartum experience to light. SECOND LABOR: Mothers Share POST-Birth Stories” (August, 2017) is a compilation of 24 women’s post-birth stories from diverse backgrounds from around the world (including several from mothers who made aliyah). Nine of the stories were adapted for “Post-Birth Mamalogues,” and performed by olim actresses in Jerusalem, with future “Mamalogues” in the works worldwide. With accolades from coveted book reviewers Publisher’s Weekly(“cathartic”), and Readers’ Favorite (“5 stars…an indispensable parenting book”), Chaya hopes the book will change the face of postpartum by increasing awareness about the support new mothers really need.
64. Sonya Davidson
Founder and CEO of H2 Energy Now, a start-up in the clean tech space, Sonya holds an AA degree in oceanic technology, a BBA in Business Administration and is a CPA and CIA. H2 Energy’s roadmap has them on the road to bring major changes to the world around us by increasing the use solar and wind power. H2 Energy tech focuses on separating the water molecule into hydrogen and oxygen via electromagnetic waves and utilizing the resulting hydrogen as a perfect energy storage medium. With patents filed and completion of a six-month accelerator, H2 Energy is currently commercializing their prototype. In 2018, the company was selected as a NASA iTech finalist and one of only 10 selected to present to NASA in Melville, NY, in appreciation of the potential impact their idea may have on future space exploration and toward the benefit of humanity.
65. Avigayil Adler
Avigayil made aliyah in 2011 with only $500 and no family in Israel. With her love of art and children in mind, she built the Open Studio where she teaches creativity, artistic expression and love for Israel to thousands of participants every year. She masterfully helps children by helping them explore their creative sides in an open and warm environment. Each child gets the opportunity to use materials in new ways, solve problems, make decisions and bring out their inner artist. At the Open Studio, both children and adults navigate through a hub of inspiration, color, ideas, science and technology. Tinkering, playing and making new friends is what Avigayil and her studio are all about.
66. Gladys Berezowsky
Born in Porto Alegre, Brazil, Gladys made aliyah by herself at the age of 19. She studied chemistry at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and met and married her husband in 1982. Their daughter Dana was born in 1983. In the years that followed, Gladys and her husband would go on to have four more children, all of whom died from a rare genetic disease. Yoav (1989-1993), Refael (1998-2003), Efrat (1996-2004), and Nomi (1986-2012). For 25 years, Gladys dedicated herself to caring for her children. Privately researching their illness and trying to find a cure. After her four younger children passed away, she did not know what to do, as she had dedicated herself to their care and forsaken any type of career. Thankfully, she was invited to attend an event for immigrants from Brazil and Gladys new role was about to take shape. In 2009, she opened Facebook groups for olim from Brazil and today helps more than 3,000 members, olim vatikim, olim chadashim, and those who are interested in making aliyah. Gladys remains an unpaid volunteer in all of her efforts, and her goal is to serve the Jewish people and the State of Israel in memory of her beloved children. From this incredible mother, we see sadness turned into strength to help others.
67. Rachel Bachner-Melman PhD FAED
Rachel is a clinical psychologist passionate about helping people with eating disorders and their families in Israel and internationally. She is president of the Israel Association for Eating Disorders, and founder and director of “Koli, the Jerusalem Center for Recovery from Eating Disorders.” After making aliyah from Australia in 1985 and a first career in translation, Rachel embarked on a second academic career in psychology, completing a BA, MA, PhD, and post-doctorate at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She is a senior lecturer in the Clinical Psychology Graduate Program at Ruppin Academic Center, has published over 60 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, is a regular presenter at conferences and other venues in Israel and abroad, and has rich clinical experience in both inpatient and outpatient settings.
68. Jill Reinich
Originally from New York, now making her home with her family in Tel Aviv, Jill serves as the Director of Projects for the Tel Aviv municipality. Jill holds an MBA from Kellogg, and previously served as an adviser to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Vice Premier Shimon Peres, and Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik. Jill spearheads the highly successful new olim programs sponsored by the city bringing thousands of participants to free events that offer insights and perspective on jobs, work, absorption, culture and long term aliyah success, in addition to a wide variety of cultural and community building programs throughout the city to build community, leadership, opportunity and social responsibility.
69. Sara Wilner
Co-founder of Early Starters International, specializing in developing and leading early childhood education programs throughout the world. Sarah believes that early childhood is the most important part of a person’s life, and through quality early childhood education we can create a world which ensures that all people have the same opportunities in life for growth and success. ESI currently has projects in Ethiopia, preventing the spread of the eye disease Trachoma, in Haiti in cooperation with the JDC and Prodev in early childhood education and training teachers in promoting a holistic program for young children, and in Greece, in cooperation with IsraAID training refugee women in early childhood education and helping them set up a space for small children in the refugee shelters. Since 2010, Sarah has worked at MASHAV Carmel Training Center (MCTC) — a training branch of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, organizing and directing training programs in a number of topics in early childhood education and development, community development, women’s empowerment and entrepreneurship in English and French for participants coming from developing countries. Under MCTC, she has organized training programs, given lectures and workshops in Israel, Nepal, Ghana, Liberia, Thailand, Slovakia, and Croatia. Sarah holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from McGill University, a master’s degree in political science and sociology from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Originally from Ottawa, Canada, she now calls Haifa her home, along with her wonderful partner, Uriah, a musician.
70. Jordana Miller
Jordana Miller is an award-winning broadcast and radio journalist who immigrated to Israel in 2008. A native of Los Angeles, she began her career in New York at CNN, writing and field producing stories on everything from poverty to Bush v. Gore to profiles of New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Deepak Chopra and Kate Spade. In 2002, she won an Emmy for her reporting of the 9/11 terror attacks. In 2005, she received a Peabody Award for outstanding coverage of Hurricane Katrina for Anderson Cooper’s nightly news program,AC360. Covering politics, international relations and religion as field producer for AC360, she traveled with Cooper to Israel to cover the 2006 Second Lebanon War. Moving to Jerusalem, she became the Israel radio correspondent for ABC News, reporting on the Gaza wars, elections, the Arab Spring, the peace process and ties with Washington. At the same time, she reported on-air for the Israel Broadcasting Authority, Jewish News One and France24. She is currently the “voice of Israel” for ABC News Radio and a broadcast politcal reporter and host ofThe HolyLand Uncovered for i24 News, a Tel Aviv-based cable news station broadcasting in the US and Europe.
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This year’s blog would not have been possible without the incredible and generous assistance of Zoe Bermant, and her fabulous Social Media team at @ZoecialMedia, with special mention and thanks to Aliza Hornstein. Thanks also to Yael Harris Resnick of Ibex Art for her beautiful contribution of Women of Valor as our cover art.
As always, all mistakes, omissions, errors and unfashionable decisions were mine, and mine alone. The order of this list is random and no relationship to status or value exists in the numbering. Each woman here is making an extraordinary contribution to Israel in my eyes and I’m grateful for their contributions to the people of Israel on behalf of us all.
- African Asylum Seekers
- American Jewry
- Beit Shemesh
- British Jewry
- Domestic Abuse
- Eating Disorders
- Ethiopian Jewry
- International Women's Day
- Israel Independence Day
- Israel Programs
- Israeli Economy
- Jewish Education
- Jewish Law - Halacha
- Jobs & Employment
- Lone Soldiers
- Nonprofit Organizations
- Orthodox Judaism
- Sexual Abuse
- Start-Up Israel
- The Arts
- Women & Judaism