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


ISEF Co-Founder and Honorary Chair Lily Safra received an honorary doctorate from the Technion in 2018 "for her outstanding support of the ISEF program that helped thousands of students throughout Israel, including hundreds within the Technion."



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!

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Because Israel’s single greatest natural resource is the minds of its young.
A person is like the tree of a field… (Deut. 20:19)
“כי האדם עץ השדה”
Jewish tradition likens human beings to trees – with roots, trunk, branches, and leaves all functioning together to bear fruit. Just as trees require soil, water, and sun, so do people require basic sustenance – through social action, education, and community – to grow and thrive.
ISEF celebrates this remarkable similarity, adopting an inspiring, transformative, and holistic approach that nurtures the best of Israel’s youth. The body, mind, soul, and environment of each individual are supported, producing the highest return on investment for Israeli society.
ISEF seeks out “diamonds in the rough”— most students are the first in their families to pursue higher education, and many are first or second-generation Israelis – to become Safra Fellows, an honor awarded in tribute to ISEF Founders Edmond z”l and Lily Safra. Dubbed the “Fulbrights of Israel,” these are young people with the highest potential, whose only barriers to success are access and funding.

ISEF Alumnus and Knesset Member Yossi Yonah (center) inspires current ISEF Fellows.

ISEF’s unique approach empowers Fellows to achieve excellence in all areas of their lives, impacting their own destiny and multiple spheres of Israeli society throughout their academic careers and beyond:
Excellence: one of the most highly selective fellowships in Israel
Long-term, Interdisciplinary: guides scholars throughout scholastic career, often through to advanced degrees, with STEM emphasis
Holistic: leadership development, community-building, identity, Zionist ideals, public service
Partnership: Working with Israel’s finest institutions of higher learning, ISEF lowers drop-out rates from 25% to 2%, narrowing social gaps
Identity-building: enrichment that celebrates Jewish values that unite, while embracing the rich cultural roots unique to each individual

Public speaking – part of ISEF leadership training

Leadership: confidence-building, personal business plan development, social justice; empowerment of women (now 60% of scholars) in higher education
Mentoring/ Volunteerism: ~400 ISEF scholars invest 2-4 hours/ week in 25 projects, impacting 3,000+ at-risk youth
Alumni Engagement (11,000+) in key business, public, scientific positions; above-average salaries

Bridge to College

This fund is helping hundreds of at-risk Israeli teens to finish high school and qualify for college.

ISEF pairs each vulnerable teen with an ISEF university student mentor from a similar background. The teens look up to our students--who tutor them in tough subjects, boost their confidence, and show them the way forward to a better future through higher education.

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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.


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.