Charles Bronfman Prize for Humanitarian Action: Seeking a Better World


Charles Bronfman is a man with a vision. He seeks to improve the world through social action and community innovation.

We already know about the Jewish innovation contest at Brandeis, but do you know about the Charles Bronfman Prize for humanitarianism?

About the Prize

CharlesBronfmanThe Charles Bronfman Prize for humanitarian action is seeking nominations for 2008 from those whose “Jewish values infuse their humanitarian accomplishments.”

Eligible candidates will be individuals or teams under age 50 who have significantly contributed to the betterment of the world through science, technology, art, culture, education, and global citizenship.

In the four years since its inception, the Charles Bronfman Prize has recognized three outstanding individuals in the fields of medicine and the environment. Read about them below.

The Prize, whose nomination deadline is November 30th, is $100,000.

Who Could You Nominate?

In my work as an activist and professional in the Jewish and nonprofit worlds, I have met people doing some amazing work.

As you read about the prize recipients in the sections that follow, I encourage you to think about who you could nominate. Who do you know who is significantly impacting the world around them? (Nomination forms are available on the Prize’s website.)

I look forward to hearing who is on your mind.

People Who Are Changing the World

Past recipients of the Charles Bronfman Prize:

  • Jay Feinberg, founder of the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation
  • Dr. Alon Tal, founder of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies
  • Dr. Amitai Ziv, founder of the Israel Center for Medical Simulation

Meet Jay Feinberg

Jay Feinberg saves Jewish lives.


As the founder of the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation, Feinberg established the premier bone marrow registry for Jewish donors in the world, which now includes 110,000 names and has helped facilitate transplants for over 1,500 cancer patients.

What inspired Feinberg’s actions? At the age of 23 he was diagnosed with leukemia. A last minute bone marrow match saved his life and when he recovered, Feinberg pledged do to something so about it.

(Feinberg is pictured here with his donor, Becky.)

Read more about bone marrow donation below.

Meet Alon Tal

Alon Tal fights for the environment.

AlonTalAs founder of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, Adam Teva v’Din: the Israel Union for Environmental Defense, and Chair of Life and Environment, Dr. Alon Tal has dedicated his life to protecting the environment of Israel and the Middle East.

The Arava Institute is well known for its regional cooperation with environmental groups in Jordan, Palestine, and throughout Israel.

Naim Daoud of the Arab National Society for Health Research and Services, and one of Tal’s nominators for the Prize wrote:

“Alon Tal is an environmentalist who understands that ecology can be a force that brings people together and bridges our differences in the region. Few have done more to make this happen.”

Upon receiving the Prize, Tal remarked:

“Israelis are tremendously committed to the environment. Our mission is as old as the marching paper that Adam and Eve received in Genesis to ‘work’ and ‘protect’ the Garden of Eden. We can move mountains if optimism motivates us.”

Read more about Tal’s environmental efforts here.

Click here to learn more about Israeli and Middle Eastern environmentalism and the current state of the environment in Israel.

Meet Amitai Ziv

AmitaiZivAmitai Ziv improves the practice of medicine.

Founder and Director of the Israel Center for Medical Simulation, Dr. Amitai Ziv works to decrease medical errors in the healthcare profession by training doctors in medical simulations and reflection to better understand their own actions and reactions.

As a pilot in the Israel Defense Forces, Ziv came to understand the importance of training simulation. As a doctor, he realized its application to medicine.


The Israel Center for Medical Simulation uses computer enhanced mannequins that react as humans do to medical stimuli to help train doctors in real-time simulated crises. The mannequins exhibit the same vital signs as humans, including heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen saturation.

Ziv helps train the Israel Defense Forces Medical Corps in its trauma management courses and has worked with medical professionals to prepare for possible worst case scenario military situations, such as biological or chemical attacks.

He has also worked with Israel’s medical schools to evolutionalize their admissions testing. As well as cognitive testing, applicants to top Israeli med schools now undergo a screening process that evaluates their judgment, interpersonal, and emotional intelligence– traits that were previously deemed unmeasurable by standard assessments.

Former Minister Dan Meridor observed:

“Dr. Ziv has drawn on his life experience to change the face of Israeli medical education. And now he is shaping the way medical training is conducted worldwide, using simulation to enhance the human dimension of medicine in ways that can make every healthcare professional more effective. His contribution to the quality of patient care will have a profound impact for generations.”

Learn More about Bone Marrow Donation

Continued from Jay Feinberg’s section on the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation above.

Did you know:

  • That bone marrow is racially and ethnically determined? Jewish patients in need of bone marrow have traditionally had a very small pool of donors to choose from because there are so few of us
  • That donating your infant’s umbilical cord blood can help save the life of someone in need?
  • That registering your name with bone marrow foundation like Gift of Life could make a difference?

Leukemia does not discriminate by age, race, or geographic location, but bone marrow does. Only a Jew can help a Jew.

Bone marrow donations are one of the few transplants that can be done while you are alive. Share your gift of health with others and consider getting tested and joining a bone marrow registry today. Think of it as a Hanukah present to the Jewish people.

Read more about bone marrow and the Jewish people on “Now I am the Patient.”


Thank you to Michael W. Inlander of The Dershowitz Group for providing some of the background information for this entry. All other information is sourced from the website of the Charles Bronfman Prize or from the organizations’ webpages (linked within each entry).


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6 Responses to Charles Bronfman Prize for Humanitarian Action: Seeking a Better World

  1. thenewjew says:

    Subject: Suggestion for Charles Bronfman Prize 2008

    Shalom mi Germania, Maya!

    With regards to your newsletter about Charles Bronfman Prize, I want to suggest the following Israeli citizen:

    Ilana Konstantinovsky
    Chairwoman of Healing Teddies Project

    The Healing Teddies Project is a non profit-project with social seat at Holon (Israel), founded in 2001.

    It was created by Ilana Konstantinovsky, a young Israeli woman.

    The idea is, to collect teddy bears and postcards sent to Israel from allover the world and forward them to survivors / bereaved of terror attacks in the Promised Land, Shoa survivors or cancer patients for example.

    Supporters also can make donations, so that the Healing Teddies Team then can buy teddy bears for the purposes mentioned above in Israel.

    Meanwhile, the project has reached thousands of people suffering of various traumas and / or diseases in the Promised Land, as well as individual persons in other countries (e. g. FRG, RUS, US).

    So, Ilana has engaged voluntary (without any personal profit, as all money donated to the project then is spent for suffering persons) for Jewish people in distress for about 6 years now.

    With regards to political activities, she has maintained her website …

    informing about Zionism, facing the problem of biased media (pro-Arab and antisemit tendencies of certain Middle East reports in Europe and USA), defending IDF against injust reproaches of foreign journalists (e. g. “intentional killing of Palestinian civilists”), keeping up the memory of Israeli terror victims, informing about the consequences of terror for Israel, etc., for years now.

    In my eyes, Ilana surely merits to be a candidate for the Charles Bronfman Prize 2008.

    But about the age limit of candidates suggested being 50 years old at maximum, I wonder, in how far this makes sense. If sb. aged of 60 years for example, engages for Jews in social issues, this is surely the same, like sb. of 30 years doing so.

    In my region, there is a Shoa survivor (Auschwitz, 1943-45, Mittelbau-Dora, 1945), having lost 12 family members, even his 1st wife (he married again in the late 1970ties) and his 2 years old son at Auschwitz.

    After WW II, the man concerned lived in USA for long time and returned to Germany about 30 years ago.

    For more than 20 years, this man has informed German students at different schools and universities about his horrible experiences now. He thinks, that it is important, to share his biography, especially the Shoa part, with young Germans, in order to demonstrate them, which terrible results prejudices, hate, antisemitism or other forms of racism / fanatism, can have indeed. Like this, he also wants to make the young people more sensitive to informations about the Shoa and other nazi crimes, as well as preventing them from being manipulated by neo nazis denying Holocaust or glorifying the nazis.

    Even a German documentary film called “Alex Deutsch – I survived Auschwitz”, was made about his life.

    For his efforts in information and education of young Germans, he was several times decorated by regional (German federal state of Saarland) and national authorities (FRG). A few days ago, he even received the highest decoration, a civilist can get in our country, the “Bundesverdienstkreuz, 1. Klasse” (federa cross of merit, 1st class).

    Although, this man has been deeply respected and honored by Germans for his efforts, neither Israeli, nor Jewish departments outside of Israel, ever have done the same, although his work is also dedicated to German-Israeli reconciliation, as he always insists on the position, that reciprocal hate only would provocate new hate between German Christians and Jews.

    So, why not also accept such persons as candidates for Charles Bronfman Prize?

    Warm greetings


  2. thenewjew says:

    Thank you for your ever thoughtful comments, Hendrik. You have thought so much about these issues that your passion and compassion are evident in all of your writing and e-mails.

    I encourage you to nominate Ilana Kostantinovksy on the Charles Bronfman Prize’s website since you believe in her work so strongly (I know you have mentioned her before).

    I was very interested in hearing the story of Alex Deutsch and sorry to hear he has not been further recognized. It’s lamentable, and I certainly wonder why that is.

    Please keep and touch and feel free to keep e-mailing and commenting– although as I said before, I cannot respond to you by e-mail as your e-mail says it does not accept my account as valid (maybe you could change the settings?).

    Keep talking, I am listening, and so are others. Have a pleasant weekend.


  3. […] Charles Bronfman Prize for Humanitarian Action: Seeking a Better World (Profiles: Jay Feinberg, Alon Tal, Amitai Ziv) […]

  4. […] Learn more here: “Charles Bronfman Prize for Humanitarian Action: Seeking a Better World.” […]

  5. […] “Charles Bronfman Prize for Humanitarian Action: Seeking a Better World” (includes profile of Prof. Alon Tal’s work in desert ecology) […]

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