Winners of Nefesh B'Nefesh's Bonei Zion prize.
(photo credit: SHAHAR AZRAN)
The murder of 11 Jews in a Pittsburgh synagogue Saturday night underscored Nefesh B'Nefesh's moving ceremony honoring the contributions of outstanding English-speaking immigrants in Israel on Sunday.
"Unfortunately, we're in such a painful day as the names of the casualties from Pittsburgh will be announced shortly," Jewish Agency chairman Isaac Herzog said a few moments before the names of the victims were announced. "[Pittsburgh] has a very impressive Jewish community with 50,000 Jews [who are] committed, Zionistic and well organized."
Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi grieved for the senseless act of violence and loss of life at the organization's Sylvan Adams Bonei (Builders of) Zion Prize ceremony at the Knesset.
"A man was so consumed by hate that he destroyed such an event [the brit milah] and ended the lives of people celebrating life. It was the very spark that made each and every one of you leave your home, your friends and join the greatest story in Jewish history. This is exactly what made Jews around the world come together," he said.
Hanegbi addressed the seven Bonei Zion winners in the audience who were honored for their achievements in a variety of disciplines.
The winners include Prof. Marcia Javitt (US), chairwoman of Radiology at Rambam Medical Center; Rabbi Shlomo Riskin (US), founder of Ohr Torah Stone; Linda Streit (UK), founder of the Daniel Amichai Center for Rowing and Natural Studies; Kalman Samuels (Canada), founder of Shalva, the Israel Association for Care and Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities; Arsen Ostrovsky (Australia), human rights lawyer and director of the Israeli Jewish Congress; Major Keren Hajioff (UK), the head of social media for the IDF; and philanthropist and Amdocs founder Morris Khan (South Africa), who received the lifetime achievement award.
“Our communities, our culture, our education, our healthcare, our infrastructure, our spiritual well-being: all sectors of Israel have been enhanced by the people we are honoring today. We’re grateful for your accomplishments, appreciative of your contributions and inspired by the selfless commitment to the State of Israel,” said Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, NBN’s co-founder with Tony B. Gelbart, who together handed out the prizes.
“I’m very grateful to Nefesh B’Nefesh for having smoothed our aliyah. Many people in this room are olim [immigrants to Israel]. This is my small way of paying back to Nefesh B’Nefesh and the State of Israel, for whom I’ll always be in their debt,” philanthropist Sylvan Adams, who made aliyah from Canada, said in presenting the lifetime achievement award to Kahn. Adams’ contributions – along with NBN partners the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration; the Jewish Agency for Israel; Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael; and JNF-USA – made the prize possible.
NBN is already encouraging applications for 2019’s ceremony. Categories include science and medicine; community and non-profit; education; Israel advocacy; culture, art and sports; young leadership; and lifetime achievement. To nominate worthy candidates, visit www.nbn.org.il/bonei-zion/nominate.
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