My ISEF Story

My ISEF Story: Dr. Shlomo Mehari

Dear ISEF family,

When I look back over these last 14 years, starting with my very first day as an ISEF scholar at the Technion in fall 2004, I am reminded of the unbelievable journey that ISEF has made possible.

I write this letter of gratitude from my office at the University of California at Santa Barbara, where I am now conducting groundbreaking research in new, energy-efficient light alternatives as part of an engineering team led by Nobel Laureate Professor Shuji Nakamura.

I was born in Gondar, Ethiopia at the height of the civil war. My father received death threats because of his Zionism and his work to help Ethiopian Jews get to Israel. He had to flee, leaving my mother to care for my sister and me. In 1984, we made the long and difficult passage through Sudan and finally, to Israel. We settled in an underdeveloped area of Haifa and struggled to acclimate. My mother worked as a housecleaner to support us. I was determined from a young age to overcome the obstacles we faced as new immigrants. I served in the Israel Air Force and Home Command Center as a First Lieutenant, and was promoted to Captain as a reservist.

Pursuing my B.Sc. in Materials Engineering at the prestigious Technion was a challenge made possible by the incredible support of ISEF. Far beyond the financial assistance, I had a real ISEF family on campus, people to turn to for help with every aspect of college life. ISEF was also instrumental in my personal growth and development as a leader and role model in my community. ISEF’s program of workshops and volunteer service as a tutor and mentor to local youth had a profound impact on my personal growth. I like to think that my pupils taught me even more than I taught them. It’s been a privilege to take part in ISEF’s mission of closing the gaps in Israeli society.

After completing my M.Sc. and Ph.D. as an ISEF scholar, I was accepted as a Fulbright-ISEF Postdoctoral Fellow at UC-Santa Barbara.

It feels like I’m closing a circle: I was born in a third-world country into war and poverty, yet today I am literally creating new sources of light for a bright new world! I am married to an amazing and brilliant woman and am the proud father of two beautiful children

I am forever grateful to ISEF and to all of you who support this incredible organization. You’ve changed my life and the lives of thousands of young Israelis like me.

With my deepest appreciation,


Dr. Shlomo Mehari



ISEF Donation