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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


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.


During a recent lecture and visit with students in ISEF’s Leadership Development Program, ISEF alumna, MK Meirav Ben-Ari, shared a heartwarming story about the powerful role ISEF continues to play in her life.




ISEF alumnus, Dr. Naphtaly Shem-Tov's book, Acco Festival: Between Celebration and Confrontation, chronicles the history of the Acco Festival for Other Israeli Theater from 1980-2012.

This well-received work provides an insightful history of a cultural institution, which has brought together acclaimed directors and actors, fringe artists, and local Jewish and Arab residents for more than 40 years.

Dr. Shem-Tov is a senior lecturer in the Department of Literature, Language and the Arts at The Open University of Israel.

Click for more about ISEF's success stories!


Nancy Wellins

Executive Director (Acting); Director, Communications and Grants

Nancy Wellins

Nancy Wellins

Nancy has worked with ISEF since 1992. Previously she was Bureau Chief for Israel’s Consul-General in New York; Head of English Publications, International Center for Peace in the Middle East; and Correspondent and Acting Editor-in-Chief, English News Department, Israel Government Press Office. She also had a professional singing career with the New Israel Opera and the Israel National Choir. She holds a B.A. in Religious Studies from Yale University.


Anita Schnee
Manager, Business Operations

Anita Schnee

Anita Schnee

Anita has worked with ISEF since 2000.  Previously she was Registrar for Israel Programs for the Youth Division of the UAHC, as well as Study Abroad Coordinator and Assistant Housing Coordinator for the Center for English Studies in Manhattan.  She earned a Bachelor’s in Business Administration (focused on international business) from Hofstra University, and an M.B.A. in international business from George Washington University.


Adi Helfer
Director, Next Generation & Student Affairs

Adi Helfer

Adi Helfer

Adi began her position with ISEF in April 2010. Adi holds a B.A. from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst in Sociology with a focus on social services, and a Master’s in Middle Eastern Studies from Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Beer Sheva, Israel. She has previously worked for over a dozen nonprofit organizations all over Israel, providing social services and legal advocacy for disadvantaged youth, women, immigrants, and other marginalized populations.

Bridge to College

Through the Luna and Selim Benardete Bridge to College Fund, young scholars are trained in leadership and serve as mentors, tutors and role models for young Israelis in their home communities.

The program targets high school students in the distressed area of Nesher, who show clear potential for college, but need financial assistance, along with help to develop self-confidence, pass their matriculation exams and gain admission to higher education.

Read more about the program

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.