Speaker Biographies - ILOJC 2008

Sarab Abu-Rabia-Queder
is the author a new book, Excluded and Loved: Life Stories of Educated Bedouin Women. She is also the first Bedouin woman in Israel to earn a Ph.D. Dr. Abu-Rabia-Queder’s book describes the personal, occupational, and marital struggles of the first generation of Bedouin women to acquire higher education. She earned her doctorate at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

Chen Altshuler has been active in the Israeli capital market for the last 17 years. She started her career in the Benleumi Bank securities department in 1991. In 1995 she joined Altshuler Shaham as a senior analyst while serving as a director on the boards of numerous public companies. Three years ago, Ms. Altshuler became a pioneer in Israel by establishing the country’s first green mutual fund, which invests in companies with products or services that reduce the pressure on the ecological system. In August 2006, she led the acquisition of a technological incubator, turning it into a “green incubator,” as part of fulfilling the vision of developing clean-tech industry in Israel. Ms. Altshuler holds an MBA in Finance and a BA in Economics from Tel-Aviv University.

Danna Azrieli is vice president of the Azrieli Group, one of Israel’s most successful commercial real estate companies, which specializes in commercial real estate, shopping malls and office buildings. She is also a major philanthropist, as Israeli director of the Azrieli Foundation, a family foundation focused on Jewish education in Israel and the Diaspora. In addition to the many projects the foundation is involved with, Ms. Azrieli spearheaded the Azrieli Institute for Educational Empowerment – a program intended to assist middle school students at risk of dropping out of school. Danna is the chairperson of the non-profit organization Kesher, an organization which provides guidance and counseling to families’ with special needs children. In 1999, Yad Vashem published Ms. Azrieli’s book, One Step Ahead, the story of how her father managed to escape and survive Nazi-occupied Poland and his journey to Palestine in 1942. The book was published by Yad Vashem in 1999. Born in Montreal, Ms. Azrieli is an attorney admitted to practice law in Massachusetts and Israel.

Ambassador Colette Avital is currently in her third term as a Knesset member, where she serves as deputy speaker. She is a member of the Constitution and Law Committee, the Knesset Committee, and the Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Committee. In addition, she serves as international secretary of the Labor Party. While still completing her BA in Political Science and English Literature at the Hebrew University, Ms. Avital joined the Foreign Ministry and held a variety of key posts. Ambassador Avital's distinguished record of foreign postings includes serving as Consul General of Israel in New York, the highest position attained by a woman in the Foreign Service. From 1997 to 1999, Ambassador Avital was deputy director general of the Foreign Ministry in charge of European affairs.

Raya Strauss Ben-Dror is co-owner and president of the Strauss Investment Company and a leading social activist in Israel. Born in Nahariya, in the northern Galilee, Ms. Ben-Dror is actively involved in philanthropic and community-oriented activities that reflect the values to which she’s committed: bringing together Jewish communities in Israel and the Diaspora, developing the geographic and economic peripheries of Israel (especially the Galilee), introducing norms of social responsibility into the world of Israeli business, and bringing business management principles and accountability to the activities of Israeli philanthropies. Currently, Ms. Ben-Dror sits on the board of the Jewish Agency; serves as president of Partnership 2000 for Nahariya-Northern New Jersey; co-chairs the Jewish Agency’s global Partnership 2000 program; works for organizations that assist homeless teenagers and promote leadership and excellence among marginalized teens; supports MAALA, which furthers corporate social responsibility; and serves on the board of the Ghetto Fighters Museum and as a partner in Talmei Geulat Israel, which works for the unity of the Jewish people in Israel and abroad. She has supported and worked for many years with the Reut Institute, whose goal is to bring about dramatic improvement in the political, societal and economic quality of life in Israel.

Rev. Rebecca J. Brimmer is the international president and CEO of Bridges for Peace, a Jerusalem-based Christian organization supporting Israel and building relationships worldwide between Christians and Jews. The organization’s food banks in Jerusalem and Karmiel provide food to 20,000 people each month. Ms. Brimmer is also a spokesman for Israel and Bridges for Peace in print, radio, video and at public meetings and conferences.  She is a Christian participant in the Christian Allies Caucus of the Israeli Knesset, where she has been active since its inception. She is the editor-in-chief of Bridges for Peace publications including “The Dispatch from Jerusalem,” “Israel Current News Update with Prayer Focus,” and “The Israel Teaching Letter.”  Ms. Brimmer is also the author of “For Zion’s Sake I Will Not Be Silent—a Scripture Guide to Praying for Israel,” and has co-authored the book Israel and the ChurchGod’s Road Map. 

Rebecca (Becky) Caspi is senior vice president, Global Operations: Israel and Overseas, and director general, UJC Israel. Ms. Caspi joined UJC in September 2007 to lead the newly formed Global Operations: Israel and Overseas division.  In this capacity, she is responsible for managing UJC’s efforts to link North American Jewry, through the Federation system, to Israel and the rest of the Jewish world in a meaningful way. Prior to joining the UJC, Ms. Caspi worked for over 16 years at the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.  Her positions with JDC included serving as executive director of Worldwide Human Resource Development, deputy director for International Relations, and director of human resources and administration for the Myers-JDC-Bookdale Institute. Ms. Caspi was the first woman ever appointed to JDC’s global executive management team.  Before joining JDC, she worked for the City University of New York.  Upon making aliyah, she managed a private medical clinic in Tel Aviv and performed with the Israel Sinfonetta Orchestra.
Tzipa Carmon is the founder and managing director of T.C. Exports Ltd, which now exports over $1 billion in goods and has been instrumental in expanding Israel’s plastics industry. T.C. Exports created a process of new product development in the plastic industry, which has enabled Israeli consumer products to maintain leadership in the world and provides hundreds of jobs around the country. Ms. Carmon has received distinguished Israeli awards including the America-Israel Chamber of Commerce Award for Excellence in Exporting and the Outstanding Exporter Award from the Ministry of Industry and Trade. She also serves or has served as a board member of Hydro Industries Ltd., Negev Ceramics, Greenstone, ALEH, MALA and the American Israel Chamber of Commerce, the advisory committee to the Bank of Israel.

Miriam Cohen-Navot is director of the Engelberg Center for Children and Youth, which is devoted to promoting the well-being of Israel’s young people, both Jewish and Arab, with a special commitment to the disadvantaged.  Ms. Cohen-Navot has been at the institute for 21 years and was one of its founders. She has led the development of several major projects including, with Dr. Khaled Abu-Asbah, a multi-year research program on Arab-Israeli children and youth. She has also been at the forefront of initiatives to improve the integration of immigrant youth and spearheaded the institute's research programs to support struggling students address the problem of school dropouts. Ms. Cohen-Navot is currently leading the evaluation of several major national initiatives involving cooperation with Diaspora communities, such as the Ethiopian National Project, Atidim and the Everett program to promote the educational achievements of Druze youth.

Matan Dahan is founder of the Ayalim Association, a program created in 2002 that brings young people to distressed towns in the Negev and Galilee in order to study and help rebuild communities. The idea for Ayalim was born during Mr. Dahan’s army service, when he saw the impoverished towns of the Negev. He was born in Jerusalem to Dinar, who participated in the underground missions of bringing to Israel the Jewish community of Morocco, where he was born, and to Rut, a second-generation Sabra. He graduated from the Israeli high school in Paris, while his family was serving on a mission with the Jewish Agency. He later joined the IDF and served three years in the infantry in an anti-tank unit.

Talal Dolev is director of Israel’s National Program for Children and Youth at Risk. The new inter-ministerial program aims to improve and better coordinate services to children and youth at risk. The program is implemented by five government ministries (Social Welfare, Education, Immigrant Absorption, Health and Internal Security) and coordinated by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services. Previously, Ms. Dolev was director of the Engelberg Center for Children and Youth, and oversaw its development from 1995 into the leading information resource on children in Israel. Ms. Dolev has an MA in Social Work and has been involved extensively in work concerning child welfare and child protection systems. Recent studies in which she has been involved include an evaluation of a major reform of child welfare services, a national study of 3-5 year old children and evaluations of comprehensive early childhood programs. She was also involved in a range of studies concerning the Israeli Arab population.

Ronny Douek is a successful businessman and a social activist committed to improving Israeli society. He initiated the founding of Zionism 2000, a grass-roots movement to address social needs in Israel, and he is currently the chair of Sheatufim, the Israeli Center for Civil Society. Born in Haifa, Mr. Douek served as a Captain in the IDF Special Forces. In 1988, he founded Hire Pacific International Ltd., a port management, ship building and dredging company. With offices in London, Rotterdam and Israel, HPI operates in Europe and several West African countries. In 1992, Mr. Douek established the Arava Vineyard. He is also the founder of the Ach-Shav (“Returning Brother”) Foundation, which opened community centers for Russian and Ethiopian immigrants, and developed the leading mobile anti-drug abuse educational project in Israel. Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin named Mr. Douek Chairman of the National Anti-Drug Volunteer Association. In 1998, he received the President’s citation for volunteerism.

Yael Dayan is the deputy mayor of Tel Aviv-Yafo. She served three terms in the Knesset, where she chaired the Committee for the Advancement of the Status of Women, founded during her first term, as well as the Subcommittee for Gay and Lesbian Rights. Ms. Dayan was also a member of the Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee and the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, where she initiated and completed legislation protecting women’s rights, gay rights and the civil rights of minorities. She is also an active leader of grassroots organizations such as Peace Now, for which she was awarded the Bruno Kreisky Human Rights Award (1991), and the Olof Palme Award for Peace (1998). Ms. Dayan is the author of eight books, including New Face in the Mirror, Death Has Two Sons, and My Father--His Daughter. She has been a journalist for 40 years, writing political commentary in both the Israeli and foreign press. Ms. Dayan is a signatory to the Geneva Accords.

Ruth Eglash is the social affairs correspondent for The Jerusalem Post, where she writes about those in Israel who struggle on a day-to-day basis to make ends meet. She has been at the Post for the past 10 years and has held a variety of positions there, including Arts & Entertainment editor, feature writer, and columnist. Ms. Eglash has also written for a variety of publications such as the UK’s Jewish Chronicle, Yad Vashem’s quarterly magazine, the Israel Press Service and the Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle, where she was assistant editor in the late 1990s. Before becoming a journalist, Ms. Eglash spent many years as a counselor for the Federation of Zionist Youth in England and the Young Judaea youth group in Israel.

Rabbi Tamar Elad-Appelbaum directs Makhillim, the Masorti movement’s program for training professional kehilla leadership. She is also director of the movement’s Office of Weddings. Rabbi Elad-Appelbaum also serves as vice president of the Rabbinical Assembly in Israel; is a board member of the Menuha Nechona organization for alternative burial in Jerusalem; and is co-founder of the Talia Group, which creates Jewish ceremonies for women. While studying at the religious Pelech School for Girls in Jerusalem, Rabbi Elad-Applebaum was greatly influenced by Professor Alice Shalvi, who nurtured her instinct for a pluralistic and egalitarian religious outlook. She served in the IDF as a trail guide for the Kfar Etzion Field School and later studied in a women’s yeshiva before continuing her higher education at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where she earned a BA. During her university studies, Rabbi Tamar came into contact with Masorti/Conservative Judaism. She worked as a Jewish Agency shlicha (emissary) in Australia and the US, and later as coordinator of the Masa Institute for training Jewish student leaders. In 2005, Rabbi Elad-Appelbaum was ordained and received an M.A. in Jewish Studies at the Schechter Institute, while serving as student rabbi at Kehillat Magen Avraham in Omer. She subsequently became the kehilla’s spiritual leader, a position she held until her recent return to Jerusalem with her family. Rabbi Elad-Applebaum also publishes work on contemporary Jewish poetry and thought.

Col. Miri Eisin is a spokesperson for the Israeli government. She worked for 20 years in the Israeli intelligence community, and served with distinction in combat units, in the production department and as assistant to the director of military intelligence. Col. Eisen was a special spokesperson during Operation Defensive Shield in 2002 and served as a spokesperson for the Israeli government during the Second Lebanon War in 2006. Following the war, she was appointed the Prime Minister’s international media advisor, a post she filled until December 2007. In this capacity, Col. Eisen accompanied the Israeli Prime Minister to meetings in countries such as Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Russia, France, and the United States. She led Israel’s international media efforts during this challenging period, which concluded with the Annapolis international meeting. Col. Eisen holds a masters degree in security studies from Haifa University and is a graduate of the Israeli National Defense College.

Dany Gliksberg is deputy director of the Ayalim Association, which brings young students to study and work in distressed areas of the Negev and Galilee. Born in Jerusalem, Mr. Gliksberg graduated from the Masorti high school in Jerusalem and served in the Air Force special forces. In 2002, he began a degree in Middle Eastern studies at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. But at the end of that year he left his studies to join Matan Dahan, the Ayalim founder, in the Negev in order to promote the ideas of the Ayalim Association.

Leah Golan is director general of the Israel Department at the Jewish Agency. She has worked for the Jewish Agency since 1992 in a variety of positions, including regional director of Southern Israel, director of aliyah for Western countries and countries in distress, and director of planning for the Israel Department. In her recent post, Ms. Golan has led a process resulting in three main focuses: partnerships, youth at risk, and priority areas. As a result, the department is defining new partnership models with Diaspora communities, Israeli philanthropists and other groups, with the goal of involving them in Jewish Agency activities and programs. These programs include Youth Futures, a program for empowering at-risk youth in priority areas, Partnership 2000, Atidim and Net@, which aims to reduce the digital knowledge gap among youth.

Karnit Goldwasser has traveled the world advocating on behalf of her late husband, Ehud (Udi) Goldwasser, abducted by the Hezbollah on July 12th, 2006 along with Eldad Regev. She proudly wears her Lion of Judah as a sign of her friendship and appreciation.

Dr. Miriam Haran, a former Director General of the Israel Ministry of the Environment, currently heads the Ono Academic College MBA Program in Environmental Management. She is also an environmental consultant for major Israeli companies. Dr. Haran chairs the Environmental Committee of the UJC Tel Aviv-Los Angeles Partnership, is a board member of the Environmental Services Company, and a public committee member of Maala, a non-profit organization that ranks Israeli companies based on corporate social responsibility In addition, she is a member of the Israeli Presidential Task Force for Promoting the Environment in Israel.

Alan Hoffmann is Director General of the Education Department at the Jewish Agency for Israel, where he works to develop and launch worldwide initiatives that intensify the next generation’s connection Israel, and to promote Jewish education with Israel at its heart. Since making aliyah from South Africa in 1967, Alan has dedicated his professional life to promoting Jewish education, initially as the director of Hadassah Youth Activities in Israel. After three years of graduate study at the Harvard School of Education, he spent 13 years at the Melton Centre for Jewish Education in the Diaspora at the Hebrew University, including six years as its director.  After that Alan served as the Executive Director of the Council for Initiatives in Jewish Education (CIJE) in New York and in 1997 was named the head of the Mandel Center for Jewish Continuity at the Hebrew University. 

Benny Landa is an accomplished entrepreneur and a major philanthropist who with his wife Patsy established the Landa Fune, a 10-year $50 million philanthropic program dedicated to equal opportunity through education.  The Fund, now in its sixth year, supports programs and scholarships at all six of Israel’s universities and at the Weizmann Institute, with an emphasis on young people–particularly new immigrants and minorities–with “privileged minds and underprivileged means.” The  Landa Fund’s main recipient is Atidim, which focuses on enabling gifted underprivileged youth to acquire higher education. (Atidim is also supported by Federations through the Jewish Agency for Israel.) Mr. Landa is the Chairman of Landa Ventures, which invests in promising Israeli technological start-ups.  He also heads Landa Laboratories, which is involved in imaging, nanotechnology, and energy research. Mr. Landa has received numerous industrial and scientific awards over the years, including the Israel Prize for Innovation in 2007 and the prestigious Edwin H. Land Medal, the imaging industry’s highest accolade. He has also been recognized for his many contributions to society and has been awarded a number of honorary doctorate degrees.

Sigalit Landau is a renowned artist whose work as been shown in over a dozen solo and 40 group exhibitions. Her art has been displayed at museums and galleries worldwide, including MoMA, New York; the Kunst-Werke Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin; the Israel Museum, Jerusalem; and the Institute for Contemporary Art in France. Ms. Landau has also won numerous awards, including the Beatrice S. Kolliner Award for a Young Israeli Artist and, twice, the JNF Sculpture Award.

Tzipi Livni is the foreign minister of Israel, and was first elected to the Knesset in 1999. In 2001, Ms. Livni was appointed minister of Regional Cooperation and of Agriculture. In 2003, she held the Immigrant Absorption, Housing and Construction, and Justice and Foreign Affairs portfolios. While in the Knesset, she has served on the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, and the Committee on the Status of Women. She also chaired the subcommittee responsible for the Prevention of Money Laundering Law. Prior to her election to the Knesset, Livni served as director general of the Government Companies Authority, where she oversaw the privatization of government corporations and monopolies. Livni was a member of the Likud Party until the end of 2005, when she and other prominent political figures formed the Kadima Party. Ms. Livni practiced law in a private firm for ten years before entering public life. She served as an officer in the IDF, and later in Mossad, Israel’s overseas secret service.

Gal Lousky is founder and CEO of Israeli Flying Aid, a not-for-profit, non-governmental organization that provides humanitarian relief in countries all over the world. The group helps people regardless of where they live and frequently works in countries that don’t have diplomatic relations with Israel. Israeli Flying Aid volunteers were on the scene in Sri Lanka after the 2004 tsunami, in Myanmar after a devastating cyclone, and in Indonesia and China after earthquakes. During the Second Lebanon War, the group aided victims of the Katusha rockets that rained down on northern Israel. Ms. Lousky and her colleagues were even in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina.

Hilla Medalia is an award-winning Israeli filmmaker. After her military service, she came to the United States, where she earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Southern Illinois University. She then moved to New York, where she was senior producer of the documentary 39 Pound of Love, which won the 2005 Ofir Award (“Israeli Oscar”) for best documentary and was on the Academy Award short list for best documentary film. To Die in Jerusalem, Ms. Medalia’s first feature documentary, was screened in festivals around the world and won the 2007 Peabody Award, the 2008 Fipa Special Jury Award, and a Jury Award at the 2008 Human Rights Film Festival in Paris. Ms. Medalia received a 2005 Regional Emmy Award for the student documentary project Condition: John Foppe and the 2004 Angelus Award for directing the student film, Daughters of Abraham. She is now in post-production on her next film, After the Storm.

Dr. Nigist Mengesha has been director general of the Ethiopian National Project for the last five years. She has been a community activist and advocate for Ethiopian rights since her arrival in Israel in 1984. Dr. Mengesha has worked for the Israeli Social Welfare Department; served as coordinator for Ethiopian organizations for the SHATIL project; founded and directed Fidel, the Association for Education and Social Integration of Ethiopian Jews in Israel; and represented Israel at the Durban United Nations Conference Against Racism. In Ethiopia, Dr. Mengesha served as a social worker for the Ethiopian Prisons Authority. After making aliyah, she received an MSW from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and was a fellow at Jerusalem’s Mandel School for Educational Leadership. She received a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Sussex in 2007.

Yael Milo was born and raised in Israel, Yael Milo is the General Director and founder of “Sea Goddess Yacht Club, which runs yachting adventures designed to empower women. The yachts are skippered by women and have all-female crews. After the army, Ms. Milo studied computer science at the University of California at Berkeley. She spent 10 years in California working for PIXAR as a technical director for commuter animation. She moved back to Israel in 1994.

Dame Shirley Porter (née Cohen) chairs the Porter Foundation, a major British philanthropy with a long record of supporting projects in Israel. Dame Shirley is a governor of Tel Aviv University, an institution the Cohen-Porter families have supported since its inception. Major gifts to the university include the Cohen-Porter Building for Natural Sciences, the Cohen-Porter swimming pool, and most recently, the Porter School for Environmental Studies and its Porter fellowships. The Porter Foundation also supporters a number of non-governmental organizations in the field of environmental education. The family has contributed greatly to the social fabric of Tel Aviv through major donations benefiting people of all ages. A new initiative is the Sir Leslie Porter Rehabilitation and Aging Health Care Centre, built in memory of Dame Shirley’s late husband. A committed environmentalist, Dame Shirley is the recipient of the Yakir Prize, awarded by the Council for a Beautiful Israel. She was made a Dame Commander of the British Empire in recognition of her contributions to public service. Dame Shirley also was Leader of London’s flagship borough, the City of Westminster, from 1983-1991 and Lord Mayor from 1991-92.

Judith Yovel Recanati is the founder and chair of the Gandyr Foundation, a family foundation she established with her husband and three daughters for the purpose of strengthening Israeli society. The foundation puts special emphasis on support for organizations that champion social causes and the national values of the State of Israel. It supports special projects for young people between 18 and 25 and helps Israeli youth movements. In 1998, Ms. Recanti co-founded NATAL: Israel Trauma Center for Victims of Terror and War, and she is involved with the center on a daily basis as chairperson and volunteer. She also serves as a board member of the Yahel Foundation; the Recanati family foundation, whose projects include the Recanati Science Museum in Haifa, scholarships for demobilized soldiers and new immigrants; two business administration faculties; a medical research fund; a school for public health; a seniors’ home and a synagogue. Ms. Recanti is a registered art psychotherapist with an M.A. in Expressive Therapies. She also studied psychotherapy at Bar-Ilan University. Before establishing NATAL, she conducted individual and group treatment through the arts, and worked with post-traumatic stress patients at Beit Levinstein Hospital, the National Institute for the Rehabilitation of Head Injury Patients, and the Neurological Rehabilitation Center, Sheba Medical Center.

Rabbi Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi is the director of the Center for Leadership Education at the Shalom Hartman Institute, where she is also a faculty member and research fellow. In addition, she is a faculty member at Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem. She is an alumna of the Wexner Foundation graduate fellowship program and serves as a scholar-in-residence in communities throughout North America. While living in New York, Rabbi Sabath served on the faculty of CLAL, as well as the Wexner Heritage Foundation and the Skirball Center. She is co-author of Preparing Your Heart for the High Holy Days and Striving Toward Virtue: A Contemporary Guide to Jewish Ethical Behavior, as well as the author of several published articles. She is currently completing a Ph.D. on the development of Jewish theology in North America.

Ruth Salomy is the president of Lion of Judah–Israel. She is a sixth-generation Israeli whose grandparents were among the 60 families that founded Tel Aviv. Ms. Salomy is a graduate of Tel Aviv University Law School and practiced law in Israel until 1974, when she and her family moved to Baltimore. She played an active role in the Baltimore community, where she founded and ran an association of Israeli families; hosted a weekly radio show for the Jewish community; lectured on Jewish and Israeli topics; and actively participated in the Soviet Jewry Conference. At the same time, Ms. Salomy graduated from the University of Baltimore Law School and became an assistant county attorney, specializing in civil rights, labor relations, recreation and parks, police department matters, and the abuse of children and the elderly. She was also awarded a prize by the Baltimore County Executive for a civil rights training program she developed for executives and managers. In 1996, Ms. Salomy and her husband moved back to Israel and she became involved in many community activities, including Lion of Judah-Israel. She now lives in both the U.S. and Israel, and bridges the two cultures professionally, philanthropically and socially. A part-time artist and world traveler, Ms. Salomy welcomes joint initiatives by all Lions worldwide.

Ronit Satchi-Fainaro, Ph.D is an award-winning cancer researcher and senior lecturer in Physiology and Pharmacology at Tel Aviv University’s Sackler School of Medicine. She is also a visiting associate professor at Harvard Medical School and Children’s Hospital in Boston. Among other awards, Dr. Satchi-Fainaro is a recipient of the Igal Alon Fellowship for outstanding young investigators (2006-2009). She has written more than 30 articles and holds numerous patents.

Shannon Shibata recently launched a new initiative called the Centre for New Leadership, which focuses on the crisis of leadership within the State of Israel and how to strengthen the next generation to overcome key problems faced by Israeli society. After experiencing life during the intifada while studying in Jerusalem, Ms. Shibata was moved to action: she began to meet with victims in need, whose agony she would chronicle. Since then she has spoken to government ministers, members of parliament, members of congress, senators, the New York City Council, Rudolph Giuliani and numerous corporate heads and business people to educate the world about the effects of terrorism. Ms. Shibata also served as director of Israeli and European operations for the Advocacy Organization StandWithUs, where she trained students, leaders, policy makers and organizations concerning the situation in Israel.

Shlomit Slavin is an entrepreneur and the founder of HOKI, a new line of sandals that has become popular in Israel, the U.S. and several other countries. Ms. Slavin was previously a successful producer, working in television and documentary film.

Leah Soibel is a National Security Education Program fellow and the senior advisor for research and communications at the Israel Office of the Israel Project, where she does research on Palestinian terrorist groups and investigates efforts by Israel to work for peace. Ms. Soibel, who served in intelligence in the IDF, has expert knowledge of cyberterrorism, electronic Jihad and Arab/Islamic public diplomacy. She has conducted in-depth analysis of interactivity between Iranian, Palestinian and Hezbollah terror websites, used as platforms to wage sophisticated media campaigns and terrorist efforts against Israel and the United States. Ms. Soibel earned a B.A. from Dickinson College in Middle Eastern History and Judaic Studies and an M.A. from George Washington University in Security Policy Studies, focusing on the Middle East. She is working towards her Ph.D. in Political Science, focusing on Arab public diplomacy campaigns.

Carole Solomon is immediate past chair of the board of governors of the UIA-Jewish Agency for Israel, where she has been a board member since 1994. She currently chairs the Jewish Agency’s North American Council. Ms. Solomon is also a director of UJA-Federation of New York, as well as a former chair of the federation’s Partnership 2000 program. She was the first woman to chair the national campaign of United Jewish Appeal and the first woman to chair the board of governors of the Jewish Agency. She is a past vice chair of UJC and past chair of its Campaign/FRD Pillar. Ms. Solomon is also a former president of UJA’s  National Women’s Campaign (now National Women’s Philanthropy) and was a member of the  national UJA board of trustees and chair of its Budget and Finance committee. She was also a member of the board of JDC.
Ms. Solomon sits on the board of the Israel Vocal Arts Institute, the American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic, and the International Board of Beit Hatfusoth.

Dr. Alona Raucher Sternfeldis a pediatric cardiologist at the Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, Israel. For the past 10 years, she has been active with Save a Child's Heart (SACH), an Israeli non-profit that treats children from around the world with life-threatening heart problems. Close to half the children treated at SACH are Palestinian or from Arab countries such as Jordan and Iraq. Recently, Dr. Sternfeld went on a mission to Zanzibar and the Tanzanian mainland, evaluating 220 young heart patients. She also went on a screening mission of Iraqi children in Amman, Jordan. Dr. Sternfeld was born in Israel but completed high school in St. Louis, Missouri. She returned to Israel to serve in the army, then attended medical school at Tel Aviv University. She is board certified in both pediatrics and pediatric oncology.

Yitzhak Tshuva is a leading Israeli businessman and philanthropist. He is head of the Delek Group, an Israeli holding company with a wide variety of businesses, including real estate, automobiles, biochemistry, communications, insurance, fuel stations and leisure stops. The El Ad Group, Mr. Tshuva’s real estate company, made headlines a few years ago when it purchased New York’s renowned Plaza Hotel. Mr. Tshuva is a committed philanthropist. He provides academic scholarships to those in need, which in the past few years have allowed thousands of scholarship recipients to attain degrees. During the recent fighting in Lebanon, he rented hundreds of hotel rooms so that residents of the North could be sheltered from the bombing. He also contributes to hospital, universities, and many other public organizations in Israel. Mr. Tshuva's dream is to establish "Peace Valley," by digging a canal that will connect the Red Sea and the Dead Sea. The project would establish a canal connecting the two seas, taking advantage of the differences in altitude both to produce electricity as well as desalinate the sea water. The canal would also allow the creations of lakes, a boardwalk, and hotel for tourists and Israelis alike. Mr. Tshuva believes that the multiple activities between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea would produce hundreds of thousands of jobs, electrical energy and drinking water for the benefits of the Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians, and Israelis.

Dr. Liora Weinbach is a Hebrew linguist and speech analysis researcher at Tel Aviv University whose ongoing research has led to new understandings of the rules that determine success and failure in human speech. Her work has led to the development of the Switch My Speech method, designed to improve human discourse and relations. The method has been taught for the past 10 years at the School of  Education at Tel Aviv University and at the M.A. program in Mediation Studies at Bar Ilan University School of Law. Dr. Weinbach’s books 2000+ A Dictionary for Learners of Hebrew and Multi-Dictionary: Bilingual Learners Dictionary have been translated into eight languages and are used worldwide. In 1989, Dr. Weinbach was appointed by the Prime Minister's office to develop a new method for teaching Hebrew and Judaism in the FSU. She is about to publish a new book that explores and illustrates a multidisciplinary model explaining human speech patterns.

Carol Wise, vice president of the Jewish Endowment Foundation of New Orleans, is a leader not only in the Jewish community but in the New Orleans community at large.  A proud Lion of Judah, she is devoted to rebuilding her beloved city and truly leads by example. 

Doris Weiser-Small is president of Spirit of Israel. In that capacity, she is the liaison between Lion of Judah-Israel and UJC National Women's Philanthropy. She was a past chair of Lion of Judah-Israel and is the immediate past president. Before making aliyah 12 years ago, Ms. Weiser-Small was very active in Montreal’s Federation CJA, where she held many leadership positions, including chair of the Women’s Division. She was a Kipnis-Wilson/Friedland Award winner in 2004.


Noa Wertheim is an award-winning dancer and the founder, artistic director, and choreographer of the Vertigo Dance Company. Raised as a religious Jew in Nataniya, Ms. Wertheim began dancing in Esther Bash’s studio and with Sara Yochai, but her religious education prevented her from continuing. She later served for three years in the IDF’s Nachal brigade, where she worked on developing the town of Yeruham. In 1990, she graduated from the Rubin Academy of Music & Dance in Jerusalem. She performed with the Tamar Dance Company, where she met Adi Sha'al, who became her husband. Together they established the Vertigo Dance Company in 1992. Ms. Wertheim has won many prestigious awards, including the Cultural Ministry Award for Young Choreographers and the Landau Performing Arts Prize.


Brig. General (Res.) Ruth Yaron is CEO of the Academy for Quality Government in Israel and a senior fellow at the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute. General Yaron previously served as head of the IDF Media and Communications division and in 2002 became the first woman to hold the job of IDF chief spokesperson. She was also the first woman member of the Israeli Joint Chiefs of Staff. From 2000 to 2002, General Yaron was chief instructor at Israel’s prestigious National Security College. She was also a senior diplomat in the Israeli Foreign Service, which included several years as spokesperson and media advisor in the Israeli Embassy in Washington, DC. She holds an M.A. in Political Science and National Security and is a graduate of the United Nations International Academy for Peace.


Michal Yudin is the founder and co-chair of WePower (Women’s Electoral Power), an Israeli organization created to bring more women into politics. Previously, she chaired the absorption department of WIZO (Women’s International Zionist Organization) Israel, where she also founded and chaired the Committee for the Advancement of Women in Politics. Ms. Yudin was born and raised in Israel and educated both there and in the United States. She served in the IDF as an officer in charge of education, in a welfare unit and in the women’s officer school. She represented the Jewish Agency in New York to promote the Kibbutz Ulpan program and other study programs for young people, and to assist those who wanted to make aliyah.

Leah Zinder is the Diplomatic Correspondent for IBA English News on Israel Television Channel One.  She was previously political affairs reporter for Kol Israel English News and anchored “Hello Jerusalem,” a weekly feature on Israeli life. Ms. Zinder same to Israel from South Africa to study at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and has lived there ever since.