Leadership training includes learning to speak in public. An ISEF scholar voices his opinion at the annual ISEF Student Convention.

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



Check out ISEF-Israel's events paying tribute to four decades of educating youth, transforming lives and securing Israel's future!


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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!

Read 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.

Letters from Our Scholars

July 2017

Dear Wonderful People at ISEF,

I want to thank you for the scholarship you so generously gave me this year. Your help is making it possible to pursue my degree in Biomedical Science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. (I am in my first year.) 

I was born in France and made aliyah with my parents and two younger brothers when I was just six years old. We settled in the Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) city of Elad. My father, who comes from Tunisia, is legally blind and suffers from depression. My mother spends most of her days caring for him and works part-time as a cleaning lady.

From a young age, as the eldest, I was forced to abandon my school work in order to earn money for our struggling household. I worked long nights as a waitress and expected to drop out of school, like most of my friends. But then, against my parents’ wishes, I transferred to a secular high school where I could earn a high school diploma. I worked extra hard in order to pay for my transportation and school supplies, and despite the challenges I faced, I achieved my diploma and enlisted in the army’s Civil Administration division as an infrastructure officer.

After completing three years of military service, I was determined to pursue my dream of studying medicine in Israel. I believe that it is a field where I can really help people and make an impact in their lives. Because I did not have the grades to be accepted to Israel’s competitive medical schools, I chose to major in Biomedical Science, so that I can apply to medical school in my fourth year as part of an alternative academic track.

ISEF has restored my faith that there are people who care about me and want to support me and see me succeed. I am grateful and proud to be a part of a program that really does provide an equal opportunity for its students. There is no doubt in my mind that, without ISEF, I would not be able to study towards a degree. Thank you for opening the door to me and others like me, for helping us to believe in ourselves and realize our potential. For me, ISEF is not just a generous donation; it is a way for me one day to be able to give back, to acquire the necessary tools so that I can make positive change in the future.

With deep gratitude and appreciation,

Deborah Mimoun


July, 2017

Dear ISEF,

I want to thank you so much for your generosity. Your help makes it possible to pursue my degree in Political Science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (I am in my first year).

I grew up in Asosa, a town in western Ethiopia, with my mother and older brother. Our mother passed away from an illness when I was just five, and my brother and I were separated, taken in by different family members. At 16, my brother came looking for me and shared his plan for us to make aliyah, fulfilling our ancestors’ 2000-year-old dream.

We arrived in Israel in 2008, to an absorption center in Beer Sheva. I was sent to the Yemin Orde Youth Village where I learned Hebrew and went on to attain my high school matriculation certificate. I enrolled in a year-long mechina (college preparatory program) before enlisting in the Paratrooper Brigade as a combat soldier.

My aliyah experience has been filled with many challenges, mainly learning a new language, adjusting to a new culture, and trying to get by without any sense of financial support. My first year of studies has not been easy, but ISEF has been there for me every step of the way. ISEF is my home, a place I come to for comfort, academic and emotional support, true friendship, and a source of learning and experiencing the world outside of school.

I am volunteering in ISEF’s Bridge to College program in Jerusalem, mentoring and tutoring local teens from difficult backgrounds. I aspire to work for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and make an impact on Israeli society and our place in the world.

I want to thank you for the opportunity, for the journey, and for the possibilities that you granted me with your gift to ISEF.

My deepest gratitude,

Ataklit Tesfaye


July 17, 2017

To My New ISEF Family,

I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your help makes it possible to pursue my degree in Sociological Anthropology and English Literature at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. (I am in my second year.)

I was born in the Ukraine and made aliyah with my family when I was just 3 years old. My parents struggled to learn Hebrew and find employment without college degrees.  I found it much easier to acclimate, and as early as 6 years old I was translating letters that came to the house and learned to be very independent at a young age.

The Jerusalem neighborhood I grew up in along with my two younger sisters included low-income Jewish families of Middle Eastern descent. I enlisted in the IDF as a military instructor for incoming soldiers of immigrant backgrounds. During my service, my father was injured badly at work and underwent several treatments and surgeries that have kept him out of work for years. My family’s financial situation took a turn for the worst when my mother found it difficult to support all of us on her minimum wage salary. My acceptance to Hebrew University while my family could barely make ends meet was a bittersweet moment. If it was not for my search for a scholarship that led me to ISEF, I am not sure I would be where I am today, a second year student juggling two majors and earning impressive grades.

Beyond the financial assistance, ISEF provides me with comprehensive emotional and academic support every step of the way. My leadership training workshop has taught me so much about interesting and relevant social issues. I have been given an incredible opportunity to volunteer and find fulfillment in doing what I love, teaching and guiding others so they too can pursue higher education and succeed. ISEF gave me confidence and helped me believe I can excel in my studies and in life, pushing me to apply to the Ministry of Education where I now work.

I am very interested in studying demographics, especially in Israeli society, and to implement change that makes a meaningful impact. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart, for caring, for your desire to help and improve the lives of young people like me. I especially thank you for the incredible opportunity you gave me to be part of The ISEF Foundation, which helps me to grow and to empower others

Thank you so much,

Julia Michaeli

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

Sign up for ISEF Emails

Lily and Edmund Safra

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