Two young Israelis win the prestigious Rhodes scholarship for 2021

Eli Zuzovsky, 25, and Eden Amare Yitbarek, 23, were chosen by the Rhodes selection committee following "a rigorous national selection process."

Oxford, All Souls College (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Oxford, All Souls College
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
The Rhodes scholarship program that offers exceptional candidates from around the world full tuition for studying at Oxford University in England has chosen two Israelis as its winners for 2021.
Two young Israelis – Eli Zuzovsky, 25, and Eden Amare Yitbarek, 23 – were chosen by the Rhodes selection committee following "a rigorous national selection process" that included 40 Israeli candidates, 12 finalists, and two "exceptional" winners, a Rhodes Trust press release noted.
"We are thrilled to honor these two exceptional Israelis with a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford University,"  according to Doron Weber, National Secretary for the Rhodes Scholarships for Israel, noting Zuzovsky's and Yitbarek's exceptional contribution in understanding and representing Israeli society.  
"We had an outstanding group of candidates, and the entire committee was deeply impressed by Eden's and Eli's personal journeys and their extraordinary moral character, academic excellence, leadership and powerful example in speaking for underrepresented groups in Israeli society."
The winners will begin their studies at Oxford this fall and will receive full tuition, a living stipend, housing expenses and more, allowing them to pursue their academic endeavors unfettered and to the fullest.
The potential scholars must have a 3.7 GPA, be between 19 and 27 years old, and have lived as a resident in Israel for five of the last 10 years.
 Eli Zuzovsky, 25, one of the Israeli winners of the Rhodes scholarship for 2021. (Credit: Rhodes Trust) Eli Zuzovsky, 25, one of the Israeli winners of the Rhodes scholarship for 2021. (Credit: Rhodes Trust)
Zuzovsky, is currently studying English, film-making and theater at Harvard University. His films have been presented at the Cannes Film Festival, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the American Repertory Theater. His thesis project, now being edited, was filmed in Israel last summer and features actors Amit Rahav (Unorthodox), Maya Dagan, Amir Khoury (Fauda), Yaniv Biton and Ruby Porat Shoval.
 Eden Amare Yitbarek, 23, one of the Israeli winners of the Rhodes scholarship for 2021. (Credit: Rhodes Trust) Eden Amare Yitbarek, 23, one of the Israeli winners of the Rhodes scholarship for 2021. (Credit: Rhodes Trust)
Yitbarek, the second winner of 2021, was raised in Ethiopia and completed her BA in Government Diplomacy and Strategy from the IDC Herzliya. A native Amharic speaker, Yitbarek worked as an interpreter for Ethiopian refugees at the Canadian embassy in Tel Aviv and with delegations from the US Congressional Black Caucus during her internship at the Holocaust Museum in Washington.
Previous Israeli winners include University of Haifa graduate Lian Najami – who went on to intern for the US Senate and is working towards a dual degree at Oxford in public policy and comparative social policy – and Nadav Lidor, who earned his CS undergraduate degree from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Stanford, and then his MA in public policy at Oxford while working to advance AI within British government offices.
Zuzovsky's and Yitbarek's winning of the 2021 Rhodes scholarship marks the 5th cycle of the scholarship program in Israel, which started in 2016.
The scholarship bears the name of philanthropist Cecil Rhodes and was first awarded in 1903. Rhodes scholars are introduced to a unique and exclusive network that counts the following world leaders among its members: former US President Bill Clinton; former Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull; former Canadian prime minister John Turner; and the Obama administration’s national security advisor Susan Rice.
Zachary Keyser contributed to this report.