ISEF scholars at Shamoon College of Engineering

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.



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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From receiving prestigious awards and top appointments, to heading international conferences and publishing vital research, ISEF alumni are inspiring the next generation of Israel's leaders. Read More

Archive: ISEF's success stories!

Spotlight on International Fellows

Dr. Inbal Rachmin 

Postdoc in Biology- Harvard University Inbal Rachmin Award

Dr. Inbal Rachmin, whose groundbreaking discovery of protein’s ability to combat heart disease and breast cancer has garnered international acclaim, continues her cutting-edge heart research as an ISEF International Fellow at Harvard University Medical School. Inbal grew up in Jerusalem, one of six children. When she was just 16, she lost her mother to breast cancer, which inspired her medical studies. Inbal is pictured here receiving an award of excellence from The Israel Heart Society.

at the labDr. Eti Ben Simon

Postdoc in Neuroscience- University of California, Berkeley  

An ISEF scholar since her Master’s and PhD studies at Tel Aviv University, Dr. Eti Ben Simon is now conducting postdoctoral research on how sleep deprivation affects social behavior.

Raised in the city of Nesher, a predominantly immigrant community just outside of Haifa, Eti and her 3 sisters watches as their parents, who never received a high school education, worked hard to provide for their family.


Avi Shpigelman2Dr. Avi Shpigelman

Joined the Technion’s Faculty of Biotechnology & Food Engineering in the fall of 2014.

Postdoc in Food Science – University of Leuven, 2014

Providing nutritious and affordable food for all is, in my mind, as important as providing adequate and accessible health services.”

Avi is the son of a Holocaust survivor, and moved with his family from Kishinev to Haifa at 9 years old.  Avi’s research led to the patenting of a novel delivery method for the powerful green tea compound EGCG which preserves the compound’s tremendous anti-oxidant properties. His research has already won multiple awards. 

Suchowski, Haim Student Seminar 2011 Nov 2011Dr. Haim Suchowski

Joined Tel Aviv University’s Faculty of Physics in the fall of 2014, where he heads his own research lab.

ISEF-Fulbright Postdoc in Nanotechnology- University of California, Berkeley, 2014

“Dr. Chaim Weizmann once said, ‘Not by science alone shall we win through. Let’s us build a fresh bridge between science and the spirit of man.’ I think that ISEF provides the missing bridge between science, culture, and identity.”

Prof. Kartner of MIT writes that Haim’s research in invisible cloaking, “is of truly fundamental impact in nonlinear optics. Haim is on a path to make further ground-breaking discoveries.” 

Zachi Tamo ISEF Sukkot Event part 1, Safra synagogue, 6.11.11 345-2

Dr. Itzhak Tamo

Joined Tel Aviv University’s Faculty of Electrical Engineering in the fall of 2014.

Postdoc in Error Coding & Storage Systems, Cal Tech & University of Maryland, 2014

“I aspire to promote education in Israel’s future generations, as well as international and inter-cultural tolerance and understanding, by linking society and science for the greater good.” 

Dr. Tali Reingewertz

Growing up in the blue-collar town of Or Yehuda, Tali was the 5th of 6 children born to Iraqi immigrant parents who never made it to a high school education. Tali enrolled for her first degree at the Hebrew University, Tali majored in both chemistry and life sciences (biology). 

An ISEF scholar since her Ph.D. studies at Hebrew University, Tali became an ISEF-Fulbright Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the U. of Maryland School of Medicine. Her special interest in the mechanisms of cell apoptosis is a critical piece in understanding the cancer puzzle – deciphering what signals a cell to self-destruct. Tali recently joined the lab of Prof. Sarit Larisch at Haifa University, as a second Post doctoral fellowship, in collaboration with her previous lab in Baltimore.

“ISEF gave me someone to talk to. People in ISEF, including ISEF’s alumni, are genuinely eager to help you, both personally and professionally. I learned how to advance myself in my chosen career,how to make things happen. ISEF is the essential support system for people like us that need to compete with specific challenges in addition to the demands of the field.”

Dr. Eviatar Natan

While at Cambridge University as an ISEF Ph.D. Fellow, Eviatar investigated the tumor suppressor protein p53, which prevents the formation of tumor cells in cancer. The results gave new insights into the complex behavior of the protein and its significant role.

I have never, in my career of supervising some 100 graduate students, come across anyone who has made a better impression in such a short time… a student of the highest capability and potential.” – Professor Sir Alan Fersht, Cambridge University (UK)

Dr. Michael Yartsev

Born and raised in Beer Sheva by Russian immigrant parents, Michael survived hard economic times as a child. While serving in an elite combat unit of the IDF, Michael was badly injured during a mission in Lebanon and underwent intensive rehabilitation.

An ISEF scholar since 2006, Michael continued his postdoctoral research as an International Fellow in Neuroscience at Princeton University. In the fall of 2015, Michael joined the faculty of UC-Berkeley where he continues his groundbreaking research on the use of light to control brain activity. 

“I am honored to be a member of ISEF and to have taught Neuroscience through an ISEF program for high school children in Israel, where I I encouraged them to study hard and pursue an academic education.”

Dr. Moshe Elkabets

Moshe was born and raised in Ofakim along with his 5 brothers, a development town and a historically immigrant community in southern Israel. Moshe’s father had immigrated to Israel from Morocco and the family struggled to make ends meet.

Moshe’s research as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School focused on identifying novel anti-cancer therapies. After continuing his research as an Associate Scientist at Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Moshe returned home in the fall of 2015 to join the faculty of Ben Gurion University where he runs his own medical laboratory for cancer research. 

“ISEF has wonderful education programs in Ofakim that help in places, where various governments failed to increase the chances of success in Israel’s periphery. ISEF accompanies me in my Postdoctoral research; they know how to identify people who want to succeed and who need some financial help to continue with their studies.”

Dr. Nir Reichental

Nir completed his Ph.D. at Cambridge University: “The Role of Pakistan’s Military in the Control System over Nuclear Programs.” His thesis deals with the dominant role of Pakistan’s military on its nuclear development. The work sheds light on Pakistan’s national security policy on all major issues such as the Global War on Terror and the threat of nuclear weapons.

Nir recently accepted the prominent position of Political Analyst at Israel’s Prime Minister’s Office.

“I wanted to express my deepest gratitude to ISEF for the warm support during my studies which enabled me to fulfill my professional objectives. ISEF was a key player behind my success to graduate and receive a PhD degree. …Furthermore, I am happy that I accomplished the main goal of ISEF Fellowship: to contribute back to Israel.”

Dr. Vered Padler-Karavani

Vered grew up in the Yemenite immigrant community of Rosh Ayin, in central Israel.

An ISEF scholar since 1994 (for BSc, MSc, PhD and Post-Doctoral training), Vered is a great example of ISEF’s commitment to long-term investment in human capital development.

Vered completed her postdoctoral research at the University of California in San Diego. Her cutting-edge research in Glycobiology led to the discovery of a cancer bio-marker that might facilitate early detection of the disease.

Vered was recently recruited as a faculty member by Tel-Aviv University’s Department of Cell Biology and Immunology. She is currently one of very few in Israel with formal training in Glycobiology.

It is said that ‘The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams’ (Eleanor Roosevelt), but in reality believing in dreams is not enough to actually make them happen. In my own experience, ISEF’s support gave me the confidence to actually strive forward despite the numerous difficulties along the way and to finally become the strong person I am today.”

Mr. Shay Lavie

Shay grew up in the city of Ramat Gan, in a family of Iraqi descent.

While in Law School at Hebrew University, Shay volunteered for the Magistrate Court of Jerusalem, providing legal aid to low- income immigrants.

As an ISEF International Fellow, Shay completed his SJD at Harvard Law School in June, 2012. His dissertation focused on Collectivized Litigation: “Exploring distribution of money in class actions, strategic exante behavior and confidential settlements.”

Shay was honored as a Harlan Fiske Stone Fellow for Academic Excellence at Columbia University.





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.