Who will be lighting this year's Independence Day torches?

Transportation Minister Miri Regev chose to honor eleven outstanding leaders of Israeli civil society, who will light a torch at the Independence Day ceremony.

 The 74th anniversary Independence Day ceremony, held at Mount Herzl, Jerusalem on May 04, 2022.  (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)
The 74th anniversary Independence Day ceremony, held at Mount Herzl, Jerusalem on May 04, 2022.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)

Transportation Minister Miri Regev, who is in charge of organizing Israel’s 75th Independence Day celebrations on Sunday, named the torch lighters at the Mount Herzl Independence Day ceremony next week.

Who are the Israeli leaders that were chosen?

Avigdor Kahalani

Decorated war hero and commanding figure in Israeli society, Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Avigdor Kahalani has been selected. He received the news on Sunday, following a recommendation made by the public advisory committee.

Kahalani’s impressive military career includes acts of bravery and exemplary leadership during the 1967 Six Day War and the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

For his service and sacrifices, Kahalani received the highest decorations and awards, including the declaration for heroism from former president Shimon Peres.

A TORCH burns on Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl, 2017 (credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)A TORCH burns on Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl, 2017 (credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)

Dr. Hatam Hussein

From the Rambam Hospital in Haifa, Hussein is a specialist in internal medicine and infectious diseases who received her training at Rambam Medical College. She has served as a senior physician in the infectious diseases unit and in 2011, was appointed to coordinate the field of infection control at the hospital.

Today, she leads the infection prevention unit and conducts groundbreaking clinical research on hospital-acquired infections and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Medical staff at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center wave at an Israel Air Force flyover on Independence Day (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)Medical staff at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center wave at an Israel Air Force flyover on Independence Day (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

David Blatt

Blatt, highly respected in Israeli sports, is known for his contributions to Israeli basketball.

After starting his career in American universities, Blatt participated in the Maccabiah games and decided to immigrate to Israel.

He went on to become a player and later a legendary coach, earning a place in Israeli sports history as one of the greatest coaches of all time.

Salah Eliyahu

Eliyahu immigrated to Israel from Kurdistan shortly after the state was founded in 1948, fighting in the wars that plagued the country before founding Moshav Shtula, close to the Lebanon border.

Over the years, he adopted lone soldiers who served in the region, welcoming them into his home. Eliyahu has worked to keep the culture and memories of Kurdistan’s Jews alive, writing hundreds of poems on their lives and traditions.

IDF Duvdevan Unit Commander

Lt.-Col. “D.”, commander of the Duvdevan unit was nominated for the honor as a commander in a special unit that “specializes in fighting terrorism and violent activity,” as well as operating in Judea and Samaria arresting hundreds of people and thwarting potential attacks against Israeli citizens.

Nina Avidar

Born in 1933, Nina Avidar would go to France and Israel from Egypt in the 1950s to work in Aliyat youth camps where she met young people whose fate became her life’s work.

“I saw the children, with sparks of wisdom in their eyes, with no chance of getting a good education and fulfilling themselves,” she said. “It broke my heart, for them and for all the people of Israel.”

She then turned to Jewish philanthropist Edmond Safra with an idea, and established a fund that will help people who immigrated to Israel from Eastern countries realize their potential for education.

Since then, her Israel Scholarship Education Foundation (ISEF) has been the leading philanthropic group in academic leadership in Israel.

Ofek Rishon

After being bullied relentlessly by her peers throughout her school years, Rishon has used her difficult experiences for good, turning them into a source of strength.

She is currently raising awareness about the phenomenon of bullying and harassment in schools, forming a program called The Boycott Patrol in which she and her peers help other children going through similar experiences.

Prof. Avi Rivkind

One of Israel’s leading pioneers in trauma medicine at the Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem, Rivkind has been at the forefront of the medical responses to victims of terrorism in Jerusalem and is the leader of the “Young People Drive Differently” initiative as a way to explain the importance of safe driving.

Rivkind volunteers with medical and aid organizations as well as advises the IDF’s chief medical officer in the general surgery and trauma field.

Reut Amichai

HaShomer HaChadash volunteer Reut Amichai was chosen to light a torch at the ceremony on behalf of the organization.

Amichai has been volunteering in the organization for three years and is an apprentice in the young leadership program named after Alexander Zeid. The daughter of Yael, a special education teacher, and Yair, a marketing manager, Reut grew up in Shekef and, together with her family, moved and founded the settlement of Neta in the Lachish region approximately ten years ago.

HaShomer HaChadash (The New Guard) is a Zionist social-educational organization established in 2007 by volunteers to safeguard the land, assist farmers and ranchers, and strengthen the Jewish people’s connections to the land, Jewish values and Zionist identity. HaShomer’s broad range of activities focuses on agricultural volunteering programs alongside educational activities emphasizing the value of work, mutual responsibility, civic courage and love of the land.

Sivan Yaari

Entrepreneur and founder and CEO of the “Innovation Africa” association, Yaari went to Madagascar 20 years ago as an employee of an international corporation and after seeing how the African children would walk many kilometers to bring water to their families, she decided to dedicate her life to volunteering and helping bring Israeli technology to remote African villages.

Innovation: Africa (iA) is a non-profit organization that aims to bring Israeli solar, water, and agricultural technologies to African rural villages.

Since its establishment in 2008, the organization has completed over 900 installations, providing solar energy and light to schools and medical centers, and most importantly, pumping safe and clean water throughout remote villages in different areas of Africa.

iA has changed the lives of over 4.2 million people in 10 African countries.

Shalom Asayag

The television Academy Award-winning actor, producer, screenwriter, director and television host never strayed far from the heritage of his family, who immigrated to Israel from Morocco, as he would embed it into his art to tell the story of his family and his community.

Sylvan Adams

Philanthropist and businessman Sylvan Adams was born in Canada and immigrated to Israel in 2015. He has supported multiple educational and medical projects through the Margaret and Sylvan Adams Family Foundation.

Among many other charitable activities, the foundation offers doctoral scholarships at the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, and the annual Nefesh B’Nefesh Bonei Zion (Builders of Zion) Prize is given to Israeli immigrants in his name every year.

The award, established with Adams’ assistance in 2013, is given for exceptional work in the fields of science and medicine, education and nonprofit work, national service, business, technology and culture, and arts and sports.

Vered Ben-Saadon

Born in the Netherlands and immigrating to Israel, Ben-Saadon and her husband, Erez, started their own winery. Despite having gone through many challenges, their winery, Tura, has become a high-quality boutique winery. It has won many international awards and has been bringing respect to the wine industry in Israel.

Yehudit Nagosa

Nagosa is head of the pre-military training program “Opportunity to Change,” a preparatory school in Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha near the Gaza border that reaches out to boys who have been exempted from the military draft due to incompatibility or a criminal record but are ready to go through an intensive change, giving them a second chance for meaningful service.