This Rosh Hashanah we are sharing the inspiring stories of those who – thanks to your support – have blazed trails for inclusion, equality, and social change.
These individuals – standing up for the rights of women and Arab citizens, for LGBTQ groups and the Mizrahi community – exemplify the thousands of Israelis that we at NIF are proud to support. Theirs are the stories that energise our work and re-affirm our purpose.
Today, more than ever, we need to advance the causes of equality and progress. Please help us support those who are working for a better Israel.
Mohammed Abu al-Hija: Leader of the struggle for the unrecognised northern Arab villages
Mohammed Abu al-Hija is a man who does not give up easily. In 1948, his entire village, Ein Hawd near Haifa, was evicted. They were forced to build a new ‘unrecognised’ village with no water system, electricity grid or road network. As a young man he formed the NIF-supported Council of Forty and became a leader of the struggle for unrecognised Arab villages. After an arduous 30-year campaign, Ein Hawd finally won official recognition, leading the way for other northern villages to follow suit. There are still around 90,000 people living in 36 unrecognised villages in Israel’s north.
Shani Paluch: Campaigner for divorce rights, Tel Aviv
Dr Paluch is director of the Breast Oncology Unit at Shaarei Zedek medical centre in Jerusalem. When her abusive marriage ended in 2015, she was denied a divorce by her husband. Through her steadfast determination in the face of an almost impossible struggle, she finally obtained her divorce 2 years later, blazing the trail for other women in Israel facing the same obstacles. An estimated 20% of Israeli women have been unable to freely leave their marriage, leaving them vulnerable to extortion on matters like property division and the custody of children.
Avinof Frumer: Co-leader, AIDS Patients Rights Campaign
Avinof led a courageous campaign for the LGBTQ community at the height of the AIDS epidemic. He was 19 when he learned that he was HIV positive. At the time, a new “cocktail” for treating AIDS was saving millions of lives worldwide, but the Israeli government had not made these accessible. Avinof launched the Israel AIDS Task Force to demand the medication be covered by government insurance. During a stormy 70-day campaign, Frumer led the group to victory saving thousands of lives. Thanks to him, Israel now has official criteria for universal access to medication.
Frima Bubis: Tour Guide for NIF grantee, Breaking the Silence
Frima (Merphie) Bubis grew up in an Orthodox Jewish family in Jerusalem but pushed to serve in the IDF. Her experience while in uniform, seeing firsthand the injustices suffered by Palestinians, ultimately brought her to work at Breaking the Silence – an organization of Isreali army veterans who speak out about their experiences as soldiers serving in the Occupied Territories. To date, over 100,000 Israelis have participated in tours and lectures run by Breaking the Silence.
Clara Yona: Founder of Kedma High School, Jerusalem
In 1992, Clara set up Kedma, a school in the deprived neighborhood of Katamonim, Jerusalem, providing local teenagers with a first-class education stressing their Mizrahi Jewish roots. Her own tough childhood experiences made her determined to find a way to use education to close social gaps and restore pride to Mizrahi communities. “When we began, the percentage of students accessing higher education was zero,” she recalls. “Today that figure stands at 80-85%.”