IsraeLeader nominees have been nominated by their organization for championing an Israel related program or project. Descriptions were provided by representatives from the nominating organizations.
Visit www.jffs.org to vote!
Anteaters for Israel, Team Leader: Naomi Warfield
Nominated by Hillel Foundation of Orange County
Program: iFest. The annual, week-long Israel festival at UCI, iFest is the largest, most dynamic and recognized Israel program on the UCI campus. Now in its seventh year, iFest attracts over 5,000 attendees per year and has featured world-renowned Israeli musicians like Idan Raichel. Endorsed by the Israeli Consulate, The Rose Project, AIPAC and multiple Israel-advocacy organizations, iFest has become a model for Israel festivals on multiple college campuses.
Nominated by StandWithUs
Blair participates in the StandWithUs internship program to promote Israel advocacy on high school campuses. StandWithUs has selected Blair to launch an original project, “Israeli All Stars,” which depicts Israeli heroes on baseball-type cards. Blair drew her inspiration from Yossi Katz, an educator who created similar cards to honor Michael Levin, an American who died defending Israel. She is making this project come to life through the Jewish Club that she started in her high school.
Gordon Fishman, MD
Nominated by University Synagogue
Type “Israel Expo and Gordon Fishman” into Google. They are almost one and the same. Dr. Fishman has spearheaded the Expo from its inception, giving tirelessly of his time, boundless energy, and exceptional intelligence. He even provided automobiles to display. Our community’s ties to Israel have strengthened through our ability to participate yearly in the Expo. Children display their art work, perform, and eat while adults listen to Israeli music, watch performers, and visit booths. Orange County residents from across the spectrum attend in growing numbers all because of Dr. Fishman’s vision and leadership.
Israel Matters Committee, Team Leader: Kim Burger
Nominated by Congregation Shir Ha-Ma’alot
The Israel Matters Committee is charged with three tasks. 1. Inform the Congregation Shir Ha-Ma’a lot community about all events Israel oriented happening in Orange County; 2. Provide information/articles/commentary on issues concerning Israel; and 3. Organize and plan our annual Yom Hatzmaut celebration. The program beings with a pep rally with Hebrew school students and their parents. It is followed by an Israeli-style dinner with Israeli dancing that is followed by an adult program of lecture, presentation or class. More than 100 people attend every year.
Hal Kravitz, MD
Nominated by Orange County Bureau of Jewish Education
Dr. Hal Kravitz is a pioneer in the Orange County Jewish community as one of the founders of the Bureau of Jewish Education and the architect of the Bureau’s TIES (Teen Israel Experience Summer) trip. He has dedicated countless hours to ensuring that teens in Orange County have the opportunity to travel to the State of Israel and deepen their connection to our homeland. Dr. Kravitz is ever the advocate for the TIES program; and he has been hands-on for over twenty years in the planning and execution of each trip. Dr. Kravitz is responsible for hundreds of teens in Orange County experiencing the summer of a lifetime in Israel.
Nominated by Orange County Jewish Historical Society
In 1973, Ken Levin, the first executive director of Jewish Federation, created the Israel Fair in honor of Israel’s 25th birthday. Held on May 6th at Cal State Fullerton, it was attended by thousands and was the first community-wide celebration of the founding of Israel. Later known as the Israel Expo, this year marks its 40th anniversary; and the Orange County Jewish community has Ken Levin to thank for being the first to organize and run this most important annual community event.
Merakzim Tzeirim (Young Troop Leaders), Team Leaders: Mai Gattenyo & Adar Karny
Nominated by Shevet Tapuz
Merakzim Tzeirim plays a key role in instilling Israeli pride and culture in Orange County. In addition to organizing and participating in community outreach events such as Irvine Global Village, Israel Expo and the Yom Hazikaron ceremony, Merakzim Tzeirim also work on a weekly basis with 3rd-12th grade Israeli youth in Orange County, during two hour activities taught in Hebrew. As representatives of the Israeli Scouts of Orange County, they also represent Israel in advocating for Israel to the surrounding communities at their respective high schools. They each volunteer over 500 hours a year, and are dedicated to becoming future leaders in the community.
Nominated by Temple Beth Emet
Margalit has been sharing her enthusiasm for Israel and the Hebrew language since she started teaching at Temple Beth Emet. Generations of TBE students, who are now leaders at many other synagogues, know what they know and feel what they feel toward Israel from their contact with Margalit’s effusiveness and love for our national homeland. We literally cannot tell you how many congregants and former congregants have told us how their love for Hebrew and/ or Israel was either started by or enhanced by Margalit. It just comes naturally to her.
Nominated by Congregation B’nai Israel
Congregation B’nai Israel, Tustin, submits the name of Johanna Rose for her efforts to leverage the leadership of CBI on behalf of Israel. Johanna did so as founding executive director of AIPAC in Orange County. Initial chairs, David Rose and Blossom Siegel, were CBI members, as were three of the next four presidents. The first major AIPAC gathering in Orange County (August 2002) was hosted by CBI congregants Arnold and Ruth Feuerstein. CBI was the first synagogue in the county to send a delegation to the national policy conference and later to send high school delegations. CBI has worked on behalf of Israel with the guidance and inspiration of Johanna Rose.
Nominated by Jewish Federation & Family Services
A pioneer of pro-Israel education in OC and beyond, Blossom has sat on JFFS’ Connect 2 Israel Committee for over a decade, overseeing the organization’s grants and projects in Israel, including bomb shelter renovation. She has been a national leader on the JFNA Israel & Overseas Committee and has co-chaired Israel Expo since 2011. In 2003, she co-founded “Israel Up Close” which produces news segments providing an objective and holistic view of Israel. The programs are broadcast on TV networks worldwide, reaching more than 500 million people and are translated into Arabic, Russian, Spanish and Mandarin. IUC has been instrumental in shaping the mindset about Israel on a global scale.
Nominated by Tarbut V’Torah
Shalom is a gift to our community. First, he holds in his hands the responsibility of keeping the children of our community safe. Secondly, he is responsible for the creation and implementation of Tarbut V’Torah’s three week trip to Poland and Israel. This trip is tailored by Shalom to meet the specific needs of our students. The Juniors leave for the trip feeling connected to their Jewish roots and return from Israel newly inspired to truly learn the Hebrew language, to better understand the conflict in the Middle East, and committed to the promise to return to Israel to keep the Jewish flame burning. Shalom Shalev is the reason for this dramatic transformation that sparks a “fire in the students’ belly” to live a Jewish life – not because their parents tell them to, but because they have grabbed ownership of their own Jewish identity and believe deeply in what it means to be Jewish.
Nominated by Temple Bat Yahm
Bernice Watkin has served as Orange County Chairperson for American Israel Public Affairs Committee for the past two years. Her tireless efforts have produced unprecedented growth in membership and fundraising and have allowed AIPAC to bring outstanding programming and speakers to Orange County and to work directly with Orange County elected officials on behalf of Israel.
Community leaders who keep the Israel connection alive are:
Sandy & Allan Fainbarg • Joel & Ann Moskowitz • The Feuerstein Family • The Alpert-Waldman Family • The Aronoff Family • The Roslyn & Joseph Baim Family Foundation – Barbara & Joseph Baim • Steven Fainbarg • Israel Up Close: Blossom Siegel & Harvey Karp • The Fishman Family • The Hollander Family • The Matros Family • Edwin M. Posin • The Cohen Family • Ralph & Sue Stern • The Berman Family • The Bernstein Family • Betty & Jerry Werksman • Anonymous • Chemers Gallery: Karen Raab • Sharon & Bert Weidberg
Israel Expo major sponsors are
SunSolar US, Farmers & Merchants Bank, Samueli Foundation, Orange County Jewish Life, Lugano Jewelers, Ralphs, Leslie Aspis, DMD
In-kind sponsors are:
El Al, Crown Ace Hardware, Mariners Church, Blueberry Hill Catering, Orange County Conservation Corps, DoAct Video, Whole Foods, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Texollini
Non-profit co-sponsors and information booths are:
TARBUT V’TORAH COMMUNITY DAY SCHOOL, HERITAGE POINTE, JEWISH COMMUNITY FOUNDATION, ADL, AIPAC, ALPHA EPSILON PI FRATERNITY, AMERICANS FOR A SAFE ISRAEL, BETH JACOB CONGREGATION OF IRVINE, BUBBE & ZAYDE’S PLACE, CAMP JCA SHALOM, CHABAD JEWISH CENTER OF: ALISO VIEJO, CHAPMAN UNIVERSITY, CYPRESS, SOUTH HUNTINGTON BEACH, HUNTINGTON BEACH, IRVINE, NORTH IRVINE, LAGUNA BEACH, LAGUNA NIGUEL, LOS ALAMITOS, MISSION VIEJO, NEWPORT BEACH, NORTH COUNTY /CONGREGATION BETH MEIR HACOHEN, WEST ORANGE COUNTY, RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA, S. CLEMENTE, SHUL BY THE SHORE, TUSTIN & CHABAD AT UCI; CONGREGATION B’NAI ISRAEL, CONGREGATION B’NAI TZEDEK, CONGREGATION SHIR HA-MA’A LOT, DR. SUSAN LOVE RESEARCH FOUNDATION, FRIENDS OF THE IDF, FRIENDSHIP CIRCLE, HADASSAH SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, HEBREW ACADEMY, HILLEL FOUNDATION OF ORANGE COUNTY, ISRAELI SCOUTS, ISRAELI LEADERSHIP COUNCIL, JEREMIAH SOCIETY, JEWISH FEDERATION OF GREATER LONG BEACH & WEST OC, JNF, JUNIOR PEARLS OF BECKSTRAND, MACCABI, MACHAL, MERAGE JCC, MOUNT SINAI, MEMORIAL PARKS, OC ISRAELI, OLAM JEWISH MONTESSORI, ORANGE COUNTY BUREAU OF JEWISH EDUCATION, ORANGE COUNTY JEWISH GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY (OCJGS), ORANGE COUNTY JEWISH HISTORICAL SOCIETY, ORT AMERICA , PACIFIC COMMUNITY OF CULTURAL JEWS, SILVER GAN ISRAEL DAY CAMP, TEMPLE BAT YAHM, TEMPLE BETH DAVID , TEMPLE BETH EL OF SOUTH ORANGE COUNTY, TEMPLE BETH EMET, TEMPLE BETH SHOLOM, TEMPLE BETH TIKVAH, TEMPLE JUDEA, UNIVERSITY SYNAGOGUE