While Israeli youth may fervently follow the pop icons and movie stars of today, students named social activists and scientists as their cultural heroes in submissions to the annual “Name Your Hero” essay competition.The competition, which calls on students to suggest a cultural hero, is spearheaded by the prestigious international Dan David Prize, in conjunction with the Tel Aviv Youth University.Over 1,000 students submitted essays offering their personal cultural heroes. Nearly a third of all submissions named personal heroes in the social sphere, with prominent names including the late philanthropist and industrialist Dov Lautman, social activist Daphni Leef, Nelson Mandela, and Martin Luther King.In addition, students also offered social organizations such as Magen David Adom, the humanitarian aid organization Latet, and the Israeli Cancer Association as heroes.The prize committee also received numerous submissions for heroes in the sciences and technology. Topping the list included historical names, such as Isaac Newton, alongside Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates.“An analysis of the essays submitted for the competition provides a glimpse into the content areas that concern the average Israeli teen,” said Dr.Aviv Segal, coordinator of the competition at the Tel Aviv Youth University. “From the competition, an encouraging picture emerges in which social, scientific, and technological figures are seen as heroes of their real culture,” Segal said.As part of the competition, students are first requested to submit an essay with a suggestion for a field or candidate that they view as a hero.A prize committee reviews the submissions and selects 150 essays.Students who pass to the second round of the competition are invited to Tel Aviv University to participate in a one-day writing workshop to assist in the writing of a comprehensive final essay.The winning ideas are reviewed by the Dan David Prize Board of Directors, with the winners receiving a cash prize. In addition, the suggestions presented are also taken into consideration when selecting next year’s fields for the international prize.Smadar Fisher, director of the Dan David Prize, said: “The Name Your Hero essay competition was established by the late Dan David out of a desire to connect the young generation to issues of importance dealing with a significant contribution to all of humanity.”Fisher continued, “The desire to incorporate youth in activities associated with the Dan David Prize is what led to the decision that the winning essays’ issues will be taken into account in determining the areas of the Dan David Prize in the coming years.”The international Dan David prize awards three prizes of $1 million to individuals or institutions for outstanding scientific, technological, cultural or social achievements.