Two Brits who made aliyah have been awarded one of Israel’s top prizes for the outstanding contribution of immigrants.
Linda Streit, who founded the Daniel Amichai Center for Rowing and Natural Studies, and Major Keren Hajioff, who now manages the IDF’s social media, were honoured as Bonei Zion – Builders of Zion.
The awards are organised by Nefesh B’Nefesh, which helps Jews make aliyah, and are dished out in categories including education, Israel advocacy, science and medicine, young leadership, community, and culture, arts and sports.
Londoner Streit, who made aliyah 40 years ago, founded Israel’s leading facility for rowing, sailing and kayaking in 2003 in memory of her son, a promising young athlete. It is now home of the national Olympic and Paralympic teams.
Hajioff is a more recent arrival, making aliyah in 2009 and joining the IDF within a month of touching down. She became an instructor in the Artillery Corps and later Head of Diplomacy in the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit.
The award winners are decided by a committee which includes the former Israeli ambassador to London, Ron Prosor, as well as the former Mossad director Efraim Halevi, who himself made aliyah from London in 1948.
The ceremony on Sunday night, attended by Jewish Agency chief Isaac Herzog, was held against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh attacks.
Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi said the attack was “the very spark that made each and every one of you leave your home, your friends and join the greatest story in Jewish history. This is exactly what made Jews around the world come together.”
Listen to this week’s episode of the Jewish Views Podcast, focusing on Pittsburgh: