Nefesh B’Nefesh, who works in cooperation with Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, The Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael and JNF-USA to facilitate Aliyah from North America, has chosen seven recipients for its 2021 “Initiative for Zionist Innovation” (IZI) grants. The IZI grants were created to support projects run by Olim (immigrants) who are committed to strengthening and improving their communities throughout Israel. Nefesh B’Nefesh runs the initiative together with the Steinmetz Herskovitz Family Fund.

The recipients were awarded their grants by Co-Founder and Executive Director of Nefesh B’Nefesh, Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, and IZI Prize benefactors Marty and Pearl Herskovitz in a ceremony held at the NBN TLV HUB. The 2021 IZI recipients include:

ProSheva – An organization that strives to fill in the gap for young professionals who are not otherwise affiliated with another community (religious or otherwise) in the city of Be’er Sheva.

OPEN – “Olim Portal for Environmental Networking & Integration,” an informal meet-up group for Olim in Tel Aviv interested in learning and sharing their experiences about different environmental topics in Israel.

Yakar Tel Aviv – A thriving metropolitan Jewish community with a strong Anglo base that serves as a home for North American Olim in Tel Aviv.

Givat Shmuel Community (GSC) – Serving as a support system, informational resource and social outlet for English-speaking Olim of Givat Shmuel.

NCSY Israel – The premier organization for teens in Israel, dedicated to connecting, inspiring and empowering teen Olim by encouraging passionate Judaism through Torah and Tradition.

Becky Kupchan Berkman & Andrew Katz – Be’erot Beit Midrash – An organization providing a variety of high-level Jewish study opportunities in English to the community of Anglo Olim living in Be’er Sheva and surrounding areas throughout the Negev.

Kochav Darom Community – Kochav Darom, an organization aimed towards families with young children living in Be’er Sheva searching for that feeling of connection and warmth that comes from belonging to a close-knit community.

Through IZI, Nefesh B’Nefesh encourages Olim with a passion for community building and integration to pursue their creative ideas. The initiative offers mentorship, networking assistance, seed funding and logistical support, allowing Olim the opportunity to help grow communities throughout the country and effect change within Israeli society.

“We are thrilled to award this year’s grants to an exceptional group of Olim who are focused on empowering their peers and effecting change within their own communities,” said Rabbi Fass, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Nefesh B’Nefesh. “We received a broad range of creative submissions and it is truly inspiring to see so many Olim driven to create positive changes within their immediate surroundings as well as on a national level.”

The finalists were chosen from a large group of candidates, all of whom have made Aliyah from North America and the U.K. As part of the submission process, the innovators were asked to provide a mission statement for their initiative, a basic business plan and an explanation of how Nefesh B’Nefesh can help further their projects.

“The Steinmetz Herskovitz Family Fund believes in the potential of Olim to improve the communities they live in, specifically because they have already done so in their previous Jewish communities,” said Marty Herskovitz, Oleh and philanthropist. “We are certain that by providing them, in conjunction with Nefesh B’Nefesh, with seed money, organizational skills and a support network they will build vibrant, supportive and intellectually stimulating communities that will serve as a model for cities across Israel.”

Candidates were chosen by a special committee consisting of community leaders, Nefesh B’Nefesh staff and members of the Steinmetz Herskovitz Family Fund.