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Nefesh B’Nefesh honors seven recipients of its Bonei Zion award for 2019

The Jerusalem Post

Jeremy Sharon

September 24, 2019

Nefesh B’Nefesh honored the seven recipients of its Sylvan Adams Nefesh B’Nefesh Bonei Zion Prize on Monday afternoon during an award ceremony in the Old City of Jerusalem.

The Sylvan Adams Bonei Zion Prize, established in September 2013, recognizes the achievements of outstanding immigrants from English-speaking countries and their contributions to the State of Israel, as a show of appreciation for their efforts.

The seven honorees for 2019 were Dr. Ora Paltiel, director of the Hadassah Center for Research in Clinical Epidemiology and a professor at the Braun School of Public Health; Leah Abramowitz, co-founder of Melabev and coordinator of the Institute for Studies in Aging; Michael Dickson, executive director of StandWithUs in Israel; Dr. Beverly Gribetz, principal of the Evelina de Rothschild-Tehilla Secondary School for Religious Girls in Jerusalem; and Danny Hakim, founder of Budo for Peace and chairman of Kids Kicking Cancer Israel.

A Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Harold “Smoky” Simon, founder of the Israeli Air Force. Simon was also recognized for his contributions as acting chairman of World Machal and to Israel’s insurance and pension arenas.

The Young Leadership Prize was given to Miriam Ballin, founder of United Hatzalah’s Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit. Originally a general volunteer for United Hatzalah of Israel, she became the first ultra-Orthodox female EMT and ambulance driver in Jerusalem and was the first woman to receive the United Hatzalah Outstanding Medic Award two years in a row.

Since the psychotrauma unit was founded, hundreds of specially trained mental health workers who make up the team have responded to thousands of calls that have been flagged as “highly traumatic,” providing stabilization and support to people in their moment of crisis.

“It is an honor to be able to recognize these incredible olim for the significant and meaningful impact they have had on the State of Israel,” said Nefesh B’Nefesh co-founder and executive director Rabbi Yehoshua Fass ahead of the award ceremony.

Paltiel trained and worked in internal medicine, hematology and epidemiology at McGill University in Montreal before moving to Jerusalem with her family in 1992. She performed innovative research on human exposure to produce irrigated with recycled waste-water, which was awarded the 2018 Strage-BGU Award for Excellence in Environmental Sciences.

Abramowitz, along with Prof. Arnold Rosin, founded the Melabev organization 33 years ago, initially as a volunteer-run “start-up” for dementia patients whose families wanted to keep their loved ones outside of an institution for as long as possible. It quickly became a highly regarded and innovative service supported by the municipality and Bituach Leumi, and has been honored with numerous awards from the City of Jerusalem, JDC-Israel and the Gerontological Society of Israel, among others.

At StandWithUS-Israel, Dickson has helped pioneer the organization’s social media activity, which now has a weekly peak reach on Facebook of more than 105 million people.

Gribetz, who made aliyah in 1980, has been a pioneer in the education of girls and women in Israel. She has championed integration of pupils from diverse socioeconomic and was the first female teacher of Talmudic studies to girls in the state-religious school system.

Hakim, who made aliyah from Australia in 2003, is a two-time world karate silver medalist and philanthropist. The organization he founded, Budo for Peace, seeks to overcome cultural, social and political differences in Israel through sport. In 2018, the organization was awarded the Regional NGO of the Year by the Prince of Monaco’s organization Peace and Sport.

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