British immigrants who have left an impact on Israel are to be celebrated in a new initiative launched today by Jewish News and Jewish Agency.

The Aliyah List, in association with UJIA, will shine a light on those who have defied cultural and practical challenges of moving to a new country to make their mark in areas from politics and business and education to campaigning.

Readers have until 31 July to nominate olim deserving of a place on the 50-strong list, the first of its kind for any diaspora community in the world. It will then be down to a panel of experts in both countries, from across the religious and political spectrum, to whittle down and rank those nominated. As well as those currently having an impact, there will be an opportunity to nominate those who are no longer alive.

The final lists – and a series of breakdowns according to age, location and area of impact – will be revealed on the centenary of the Balfour Declaration in November.

Andrew Gilbert, who will chair the judging panel and previously chaired Jewish News’ Forty under 40 list, said: “British Jews have been inextricably linked with Israel.  Some have been well-known philanthropists from Sir Moses Montefiore until the current day.  However, while the philanthropists have often been well known and praised, how well do we know those who chose to live their lives in Israel by making aliyah?  The aliyah list gives us a chance to honour those and tell the story of their achievements in more detail.”

Jewish Agency head of delegation in the UK Rael Goodman – who will be joined on the panel by his successor Leah Golan – said: “Since 1948, The Jewish Agency has been proud to bring more than three million Jews home to Israel, including almost 40,000 Brits who have chosen to build their lives in the Jewish state.

“We are delighted to partner with Jewish News in this remarkable project, spotlighting British olim who have made outstanding contributions to Israel and the world.

“It is our hope that other communities will follow suit, enabling the formation of a global list of immigrants who have made an indelible impact on the state of Israel.

“Tens of thousands of new immigrants arrive in Israel each year, enriching their own lives and helping build Israel’s future.”

Also among the judges will be UJIA chief executive Michael Wegier and Richard Ferrer, editor of Jewish News.

An average of more than 700 Brits made aliyah annually between 2005-2014.

Michael Wegier, Chief Executive of UJIA said: “British Olim make a phenomenal contribution to Israeli society. UJIA is very proud to support this opportunity to recognise their contribution.”

Jewish News’ Justin Cohen, who initiated the project, said: “Whether their move is driven simply by Zionism or by more practical considerations such as wanting to bring up their families in Israel, or often a mixture of the two, we relish the opportunity to celebrate the many British  community members who have made a lasting impact since the Balfour Declaration to today.”

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Aliyah list: our panel of judges

  • Yonatan Ariel, executive director, MAKOM
  • Alan Aziz, director of development, United Synagogue
    Jane Biran, Zionist, activist and journalist
  • Justin Cohen, news editor of Jewish News
  • Sir Trevor Chinn, vice president of the Jewish Leadership Council
  • Richard Ferrer, Jewish News editor
  • Andrew Gilbert, chair, panel. Trustee, London Jewish Forum and chair UJIA UK Programme Committee
  • Leah Golan, head UK Delegation (designate), Jewish Agency
  • Rael Goodman, head UK Delegation, Jewish Agency
  • Alan Hoffmann, CEO, Jewish Agency
  • Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner,  Senior Rabbi to Reform Judaism
  • Sarah Mali, director, leadership portfolio at the Jewish Agency
  • Arieh Miller, executive director, ZF
  • Lady Ruth Morris, Jewish Youth Fund trustee
  • Naomi Nevies, chair, One Family
  • Ella Rose, director, JLM
  • Dina Shiloh, partner, Gallant Maxwell
  • Yael Simon, strategic advisor at the Rachel Charitable Trust
  • Raymond Simonson, chief executive, JW3
  • Rabbi Gideon Sylvester, United Synagogue – Israel Rabbi
  • Melanie Sobell Zaken, director of HR, Global Human Resources, Joint Distribution Committee 
  • Yosef Tarshish, vice president at WJC
  • Michael Wegier, chief executive, UJIA