Dr. Solly Mizrahi; David Knafo; Nina Weiner; MK Daniel Ben-Simon; Dr. Ami Moyal

Because Israel's single greatest natural resource is the minds of its young people. ISEF opens the doors to higher education for more than 400 promising young Israelis from underserved and immigrant communities throughout Israel. Learn More


ISEF Co-Founder and Honorary Chair Lily Safra received an honorary doctorate from the Technion in 2018 "for her outstanding support of the ISEF program that helped thousands of students throughout Israel, including hundreds within the Technion."



ISEF alumna Dr. Karin Carmit Yefet was named "Outstanding Researcher of the Year" by the University of Haifa.

Karin was chosen from among the entire university faculty to receive this prestigious award, and all of us in the ISEF family - students, alumni, and supporters - may take great pride in her achievement!

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Nina Weiner, Chairwoman Emerita

On December 12, 2017, after 40 years as ISEF’s founding President, Nina Weiner took the title of Chairwoman Emerita. She remains an active leader on ISEF’s board, chairing its Public Relations Committee and serving on its Program Committee, which oversees the ISEF International Fellows Program and the ISEF Alumni Organization.

For 40 years, Nina Weiner has been a zealous champion of educating Israel’s bright young people from disadvantaged communities, through her work with ISEF.

Born in Alexandria, Egypt, Nina studied psychology with Jean Piaget in Geneva and earned a Master’s in vocational counseling from Columbia University.  It was while working in a Youth Aliyah camp in Israel in the 1950s that she encountered the young people whose cause would become her life’s work.  

“I saw the children, their eyes shining with intelligence, with no chance to get a good education and make something of themselves. It broke my heart, for them and for Israel.”

Nina remains as passionate for ISEF’s cause as she was in 1977, when Edmond Safra z”l, together with his wife Lily Safra, joined her in founding ISEF.

“The faces have changed, but the needs haven’t. When we began, nearly all our students were Sephardic. Today we also have Russians, Ethiopians, and Druze students.  What they all share is outstanding intellectual gifts that might go untapped if it weren’t for ISEF’s long-term investment in their development.”

In recognition of ISEF’s major contributions to Israel, Nina has received awards from the presidents of Israel’s universities, the American Jewish Committee, Yeshiva University, the Jewish Theological Seminary, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Bar-Ilan University, the Interdisciplinary Center for Law and Business in Herzliya, and the Knesset.

 “I see ISEF’s work as the truest expression of my lifelong Zionism, an abiding love and care for Israel, instilled in me from birth by my parents.”

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Bridge to College

This fund is helping hundreds of at-risk Israeli teens to finish high school and qualify for college.

ISEF pairs each vulnerable teen with an ISEF university student mentor from a similar background. The teens look up to our students--who tutor them in tough subjects, boost their confidence, and show them the way forward to a better future through higher education.

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Student Testimonials

ISEF Alum & Nesher Mayor Speaks at Bridge to College Fund Event

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Lily and Edmund Safra

ISEF was founded in 1977 by Edmond J. Safra z"l, Lily Safra and Nina Weiner.


The acclaimed memoir by ISEF President Nina Weiner shares the joys and challenges of building the ISEF Foundation and the exciting life journey which led her to that purpose. “Weiner writes with great zest and a clear-eyed devotion to facts and to the harsh realities of life that awaited displaced Jews from the Middle East upon their arrival in Israel.” – Andre Aciman, author of Out of Egypt Click to purchase Circles of Empowerment on Amazon. All proceeds benefit ISEF.