BIRTHRIGHT BONANZA: Dignitaries paid tribute to Taglit-Birthright co-founder Michael Steinhardt Wednesday for his contributions to the program that has brought thousands of young Jewish adults to Israel for short-term tours. “Taglit-Birthright Israel has saved the next generation of Jews around the world,” said Finance Minister Yair Lapid. Among the guests at a special event Wednesday were Birthright co-founder Charles Bronfman and CEO Gidi Mark, as well as supporters and friends of the Jewish community worldwide. “The [Birthright] project reconnected the State of Israel to young Jews in communities abroad. Its importance is not an exaggeration,” added Lapid. Steinhardt is also the founder of Birthright Israel Excel, a business leadership program, in partnership with Lynn Schusterman.
FOREIGN HIGH SCHOOLERS IN ISRAEL: A group of 346 students from 30 countries who are graduating this year from Naale Elite Academy — an Israeli high school program for Diaspora Jews — were among 1,000 current students and past graduates celebrating the end of the year at Kfar Silver Youth Village last Thursday. Several schools around the country – secular and religious – participate in the program, which “enables students to complete their last three years of high school in Israel while learning to be independent, self-sufficient and resilient,” according to Yeshayahu Yechieli, co-founder and director of Naale Elite Academy. More than 16,000 students and graduates have participated in the program since it began in 1992, Yechieli said at the Naale event. Students who attended the celebrations this year include Elizabeth and Maria Gutkin, sisters from Port Elizabeth, South Africa, Ami Fleisher of Johannesburg, Shelly Benitah from Arlington, Virginia, and Jonas Lucker from Milan, Italy.
ANOTHER ONE RIDES THE BUS: Figuring out the routes and timetables of Israeli bus companies can pose a challenge to even veteran immigrants; in Kfar Sava the local English Speaking Residents Association is doing something about it: a Q&A session with a representative of the Metropoline bus company on Sunday. “She spoke in Ra’anana and it was very well received, so I wanted to bring her here,” ESRA’s Jean Ullman, a Johannesburg native, told Haaretz. The event will start with coffee before getting into the nitty-gritty, where a timetable in handed out. The event will be held at the shelter on 11 Nachshon Street at 10 A.M. For more information, contact Jean at (09) 766-9223.
Rank and File was compiled by Steven Klein.
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