9 young olim win Nefesh B'Nefesh Maor Youth Award in Hanukkah ceremony

Like the organization's Bonei Zion Prize, the Maor Youth Prize is meant to honor and award olim who have greatly contributed to Israel since arriving.

 Maor Youth Prize winners pose with their award at a candle lighting ceremony at the Nefesh B'Nefesh Aliyah Campus. (photo credit: NEFESH B'NEFESH)
Maor Youth Prize winners pose with their award at a candle lighting ceremony at the Nefesh B'Nefesh Aliyah Campus.
(photo credit: NEFESH B'NEFESH)

Nine young English-speaking immigrants to Israel (olim) have been awarded the new Nefesh B'Nefesh Maor Youth Prize in recognition of their leadership and inspirational roles in their local communities, Nefesh B'Nefesh announced.

Like the organization's Bonei Zion Prize, the Maor Youth Prize is meant to honor and award olim who have greatly contributed to Israel since arriving in the country. The winners of the prize range between the ages of 12-18 and come from a variety of different countries. 

"It is truly inspiring to see these young olim who rose above the challenges of adjusting to their new communities, schools, and social circles after making aliyah, and chose to focus outwards – helping the greater Israeli community and Jewish nation through their initiatives and wonderful ideas," Nefesh B'Nefesh co-founder and executive director Rabbi Yehoshua Fass said.

"It is truly inspiring to see these young olim who rose above the challenges of adjusting to their new communities, schools, and social circles after making aliyah, and chose to focus outwards – helping the greater Israeli community and Jewish nation through their initiatives and wonderful ideas."

Rabbi Yehoshua Fass

The prize-winners were given their awards during a special Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony and celebration at the Nefesh B'Nefesh Aliyah Campus in Jerusalem.

Menorah in the window on the eighth night (credit: AMANDA FIELD)Menorah in the window on the eighth night (credit: AMANDA FIELD)

The ceremony coinciding with the Hanukkah holiday was no accident, Fass explained, noting the parallels between the prize-winners and the heroes of the Hanukkah story.

"Hanukkah is the perfect opportunity to recognize and honor these young, modern-day Maccabees, who are shining examples for the next generation of Jewish leaders," he explained. "They have chosen to celebrate their aliyah by giving back to the Jewish people, each in their own individual way."

Who are the nine young Anglo-Israeli olim who won?

  • Max Engleheart (14). Living in Modi'in after making aliyah from the US, this young oleh raises money for Beit Almog Shiloni lone soldiers' residences and works to supply these apartments with kitchen and bedroom supplies before the soldiers come. He also helps them with shopping and meals during their time serving in the IDF.
  • Gadi Schreiber (16). This Modi'in resident made aliyah from Florida. He has worked to raise funds for a new exercise park at the Reut-based Akadem Center for Autism, and continues to volunteer there and advocate for Israel's autistic community.
  • Yehuda Youngerwood (15). Living in Jerusalem, Youngerwood works to use Lego to help teach children about building and creativity.
  • Yitzchak Brander (17). Moving to Jerusalem from the US, Brander is involved with the Ezra Youth Movement and helps package food for families and individuals in need through Shachen Tov.
  • Tali Pineles (17). This Rehovot resident made aliyah from New Jersey and is active in a number of areas in her community, ranging from hair donations, mentoring children with disabilities, volunteering at forms, working with Holocaust survivors and more.
  • Ella Rath (16). Living in Mitzpe Netofa, this Australian olah works as a mentor for children with disabilities, works with at-risk children and bakes for soldiers at the nearby IDF base.
  • Aviva Stoll (15) and Devorah (Piekarz). These two US immigrants in Ramat Beit Shemesh volunteer with Lama'an Achai food rescue program to find excess food and repackage and deliver them to local families in need.
  • Aron Lewis (17). This British oleh lives in Beit Shemesh and has an active role in volunteering with his synagogue, helping at-risk youth and families in need.