An ISEF scholar (right) with the pupil he mentors - embodying ISEF\'s mission to open the doors of education to all

Mission and History

Our Mission

Jewish tradition likens human beings to trees with roots, trunks, branches, and leaves, all functioning together to bear fruit. Just as trees require soil, water, and sun, so do people require basic sustenance. ISEF celebrates this remarkable similarity. Through social action, education, and community, ISEF cultivates young minds.
We adopt a holistic and transformative approach that nurtures the best of Israel’s youth. The mind, soul, and environment of each individual are nurtured, producing the highest return on investment for Israeli society.
Join us in our mission to empower extraordinary individuals of underserved backgrounds and top academic merit to reach their highest leadership potential, igniting positive social change in Israeli society.

Nina Weiner’s Inspiring Memoirs Benefit ISEF

Our History

ISEF was founded in 1977 by Edmond J. Safra (z”l), his wife Lily Safra, and Nina Weiner. The foundation supports Israelis who have completed military or national service. Though originally created by and for Sephardic Jews, today all cultural and ethnic groups in Israeli society who share the foundation’s values are represented in ISEF’s student body.
ISEF arose in response to the challenges Israel faced at its birth – fighting for survival while absorbing Jews from Asia, North Africa, and elsewhere. Many new immigrants, particularly those from Sephardic or Mizrahi communities, were ill-equipped to merge into Israel’s economic and social mainstream. By the 1970s, the plight of this underprivileged population had led world Jewry to create Project Renewal, to rehabilitate Israel’s poorest areas. But ISEF’s visionary founders believed the real key to renewal lay in developing Israel’s intellectual capital.

Today around one-half of ISEF’s annual beneficiaries identify as Sephardic, with the rest representing other groups on society’s margins – Former Soviet Union, Ethiopians, Druze, and others.  ISEF selects its beneficiaries based solely on financial need, scholastic excellence, and leadership potential.