Longtime Jerusalem Post cartoonist Yaakov Kirschen, whose daily strip Dry Bones has run in the paper for four decades, won a 2014 Bonei Zion (Builders of Zion) Prize on Monday for his contributions to Israeli culture and the arts.
Kirschen, 76, was born in Brooklyn and contributed to such publications as Cracked and Playboy before making aliya in 1971 and beginning his run writing and illustrating Dry Bones in 1973. According to Nefesh B’Nefesh, a private organization that runs Israel’s immigration operations in North America and conferred the $10,000 prize, Kirschen’s work “has provided a quintessentially Zionist, satirical and unique view of Israel to the world.”
“I can’t think of an honor that I value more,” Kirschen told the Post Monday. The winners, each of whom was awarded the prize for “encapsulat[ ing] the spirit of modern-day Zionism by contributing in a significant way towards the State of Israel” in his or her field, are those who “fulfilled the Haggada’s injunction of ‘next year in Jerusalem,’” Kirschen said. “We are the people who took that seriously and came here and helped to build a society, and therefore, being recognized for what I tried to do for forty years makes me very happy.”
Jerusalem Post columnist and solar energy pioneer Yosef Abramowitz was also recognized by Nefesh B’ Nefesh for his work in the technology sector.
Calling Abramowitz “the founding father of Israel’s $20 billion solar market,” the aliya organization stated that the American immigrant “embodies positive and powerful hasbara (public diplomacy) as his efforts showcase Israel – and by extension the Jewish people – as a compassionate driven provider of renewable energy development for the betterment of the world.”
“It is a great honor to be recognized as a leading ‘technology entrepreneur’ in the Start-Up Nation,” Abramowitz said. “Anglo immigrants play leading roles in the continued building and transformation of the Jewish state. In that spirit, my wife Susan and I are contributing 10 percent of the Bonei Zion Prize for the benefit of refugee relief in Israel.”
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“I want to congratulate each of the winners of the Nefesh B’Nefesh Bonei Zion Prize for their remarkable accomplishments and important contributions to the State of Israel,” Nefesh B’Nefesh cofounder and executive director Rabbi Yehoshua Fass said in a statement. “We hope that accentuating the achievements of Anglo olim will serve as a catalyst to inspire others to make aliya as well as highlight the achievements of these olim who are helping to make a difference to our homeland.”
Nefesh B’Nefesh also awarded the Bonei Zion Prize to four other Anglo olim for their contributions to Israel.
Leket Israel founder Joseph Gitler was recognized for his organization’s community and nonprofit achievements distributing discarded food to approximately 140,000 needy people each week. Rabbanit Malke Bina of Matan received the prize for revolutionizing women’s education in Israel. Prof. Jefferey Hausdorff, a professor at Tel Aviv University and Director of the Neurodynamics and Gait Research Laboratory at the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, was honored for his contributions to science and medicine. Lt. Nira Lee was awarded for her leadership in the IDF coordinating humanitarian aid to Gaza.
Prof. Shimon Glick of Ben-Gurion University also received the Lifetime Achievement award.
The recipients of the newly launched Bonei Zion Prize were chosen by a committee who selected them out of a pool of over 200 nominated olim.
Each of the award-winners will receive $10,000 in a ceremony in Jerusalem sometime in the next two months.