Ten outstanding young olim (immigrants to Israel) from English-speaking countries have been recognized for their exceptional contributions to the State of Israel during the country’s war with Hamas.
Nefesh B’Nefesh bestowed its Maor Youth Prize to the olim on Thursday night at its campus in Jerusalem.
The prize, which was initiated last year to honor young olim who have made an impact in Israel, received applications from dozens of young olim from English-speaking countries—including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States. The recipients were chosen by a panel of esteemed committee members.
“As we celebrate the spirit of Chanukah, we find inspiration in these young olim, who have emerged triumphant over the hurdles of acclimating to new communities, schools and social circles after making aliyah [immigrating to Israel], while at the same time choosing to focus outwards and becoming rays of light and hope for the greater Israeli community,” said Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, co-founder and executive director of Nefesh B’Nefesh.
This year’s prize winners, ranging from ages 11 to 18, made aliyah with their families from around the world and have settled in communities throughout Israel.
The following are the details of the 2023 Maor Youth Prize recipients:
Noa Chen, Miya Tal, Eden Leah and Yoni Anders (11-15): The four siblings made aliyah from London and now live in Modi’in. Since the beginning of the war, they took it upon themselves to help supply food for hungry soldiers. As such, they’ve been cooking and ordering food, helmets, sanitary supplies, vests, boots, blankets and more. To do so, they’ve set up a network of cooks, suppliers, sponsors and drivers. They have also worked to ensure that every soldier has tzitzit, and started off by organizing tzitzit-tying in their home.
Ora Weinstein (17): Made aliyah from East Brunswick, New Jersey, and now lives in Ma’ale Adumim. Leveraging her leadership role as counselor in Bnei Akiva, when the war began, Weinstein jumped into action by driving to a nearby factory in Mishor Adumim, where she folded uniforms for hospital workers. She also initiated an afternoon program where mothers whose husbands were in the army could bring their young children. There, she arranged face painting, toys and coordinated the logistics including arranging for security for an armed guard and getting approvals from the municipality. She also arranged lunch for 400 soldiers, set up a day-long activity for kids and adults with special needs and regularly baked challah on Fridays and delivered them to army bases.
Shayna Katzman (18): Made aliyah from Toronto to live in Zichron Yaakov in northern Israel. Katzman made aliyah during the Covid-19 pandemic and since the war broke out, helped evacuees staying in hotels—especially children with special needs—and packaged food for soldiers.
Ariela Marmour (18): Made aliyah from Maplewood, New Jersey, and now resides in Mitzpe Netofa in northern Israel. A counselor in Bnei Akiva and Oz, Marmour has been organizing, cooking, collecting essential equipment for soldiers and delivering the supplies. Back home, she has helped run a youth program for children when school was out of session due to the war.
Chaya Neeman (13): Made aliyah from the United Kingdom and now resides in Netanya. Since the war began, she raised funds for lone soldiers by creating and selling greeting cards and making jewelry. She also assisted her family with hosting an evening of song and solidarity and walks the dog for a family from Kibbutz Be’eri on a regular basis.
Aderet Eisen (16): Made aliyah from Los Angeles and has since made Ramat Beit Shemesh her home. A counselor in Ezra, she cooked and packaged meals for soldiers and babysat for those in reserves. She also spread the message of solidarity by creating signs advocating for unity around her neighborhood, organized an Hafrashat Challah event in honor of soldiers, refugees and the hostages, volunteered at farms, worked with Christian youth who came to Israel with Israel365 and helped run a carnival for refugee families in Jerusalem.
Liran Nathan (16): Made aliyah to Raanana from South Africa. A gabai at a youth minyan at his local synagogue, Nathan is also Bnei Akiva counselor and volunteers for MADA. He also ran the largest distribution center in Raanana, where he worked with drivers and other volunteers who helped soldiers from the Hermon in the north to Eilat in the south. The center sent out over six trucks, four trailers, an ambulance, 200 cars and 4,500 boxes of food, clothes, hygiene products and combat equipment.