Keith Berman, a passionate advocate for aliya and the co-founder of the Aardvark Israel gap year program, passed away this weekend of a heart attack. He was 48.
Berman made immigrated from the United States in 1988, subsequently serving in the Nahal brigade and later working as a senior leader in the Young Judea Zionist movement for eleven years. He later founded Aardvark, which provided an accredited study abroad experience for Jewish students from around the world under the auspices of Masa.
“He became the epitome of the young Zionist,” recalled Dr. Harold Goldmeier, an instructor employed by Aardvark and an occasional contributor to The Jerusalem Post.
“He was an ardent lover of Israel, a tremendously committed person to the Jewish people and his goal in life became to bring young people to Israel for a longer period of time than birthright’s ten days.”
Hundreds of people, many of them Aardvark alumni attended his funeral in Tel Aviv on Sunday but it was not only the young who Berman affected, Goldmeier said.
“When i retired and made aliyah I felt a bit lost after working every day of my life since I was four years old,” he said. “I didn’t know what to do with myself and i met Keith and he helped me reinvent myself. He reinvigorated my life. He was always very enthusiastic about people doing that.”
“Keith epitomized what Zionism is all about.”