Nefesh B’Nefesh announces winners of 2020 Bonei Zion Prize

Hundreds were nominated to receive this year's prize. Seven of them were selected, representing the same number of categories.

Sylvan Adams (photo credit: NEFESH B'NEFESH)
Sylvan Adams
(photo credit: NEFESH B'NEFESH)
Nefesh B'Nefesh announced the seven recipients for the 2020 Sylvan Adams Nefesh B'Nefesh Bonei Zion Prize.
The annual award is given to olim (immigrants) from English-speaking countries, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States, who have made outstanding contributions to the State of Israel. It recognizes them for their meaningful participation in the promotion of modern-day Zionism after making aliyah.
This year’s honorees are: David Blatt, former Maccabi Tel Aviv and Cleveland Cavaliers basketball coach; Debbie Gross, director of the Tahel Crisis Center for Religious Women and Children; Dore Gold, president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs; Reuven (Bob) Asch, former Education Ministry chief psychologist; Avraham Infeld, president emeritus of Hillel; social entrepreneur Zo Flamenbaum; and Prof. Deborah Rund, retired senior hematologist and director of the plasmapheresis unit at the Hadassah Medical Organization.
“As we are all grappling with so much national and global turmoil, it feels especially meaningful to pause and recognize these incredible olim surrounding Israel’s 72nd birthday,” said Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, Nefesh B’Nefesh co-founder and executive director. “The individuals receiving this year’s Bonei Zion Prize are shining examples of the impact one can have on an entire field of study and practice, and they give us great hope for the State of Israel. Celebrating these honorees is a reminder that the Zionist dream is thriving.”
There were hundreds of nominees to receive this year’s prize. Seven of them were selected, one for each category. The categories honor contributions related to science and medicine, community and nonprofit work, education, global impact, culture, art and sports, and young leadership.
The Lifetime Achievement Award was bestowed upon Infeld for his contributions to Jewish education, assisting countless individuals in understanding their personal Jewish identity through organizations such as Melitz and Hillel, among others.
The Young Leadership Prize was awarded to Flamenbaum. Flamenbaum founded the School of Shine in 2014, which helps Israeli women determine holistic approaches to shifting the paradigm of female leadership and empowerment.
“As an Anglo oleh myself, it is an honor to sponsor the annual Nefesh B’Nefesh Bonei Zion prizes, paying tribute to olim from the English-speaking world for their meritorious contributions to our country,” Canadian-Israeli philanthropist Sylvan Adams told The Jerusalem Post. “It is my way of saying thank you to these outstanding men and women on behalf of a grateful nation.”
As a cycling enthusiast and a firm believer in the power of building bridges through sport, Adams has been spearheading “people-to-people sport diplomacy” since he made aliyah a few years ago. He tries to achieve this aspect of soft-diplomacy in any endeavor he embarks on.
Adams, who has given his namesake to the prize, has participated in and heavily funded projects such as the 2018 Giro d’Italia global cycling competition held in Israel, the SpaceX Beresheet moon launch, Madonna’s performance at the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv, the exhibition soccer match between Uruguay and Argentina at Tel Aviv’s Bloomfield Stadium and Team Israel’s qualification to enter the 2020 Olympics in baseball.
Additionally, Adams leads health initiatives such as Save a Child’s Heart, which is funded by the Sylvan Adams Foundation. It brings children to Israel from all over the world for lifesaving heart surgery and has treated more than 5,000 children from 62 countries, including the Palestinian territories and African nations.
Adams hopes the projects he supports will help strengthen Israel’s relationships with other countries and turn into partnerships even with the most unl