On December 12, 2017, after 40 years as ISEF’s founding President, Nina Weiner took the title of Chairwoman Emerita. She remains an active leader on ISEF’s board, chairing its Public Relations Committee and serving on its Program Committee, which oversees the ISEF International Fellows Program and the ISEF Alumni Organization.
For 40 years, Nina Weiner has been a zealous champion of educating Israel’s bright young people from disadvantaged communities, through her work with ISEF.
Born in Alexandria, Egypt, Nina studied psychology with Jean Piaget in Geneva and earned a Master’s in vocational counseling from Columbia University. It was while working in a Youth Aliyah camp in Israel in the 1950s that she encountered the young people whose cause would become her life’s work.
“I saw the children, their eyes shining with intelligence, with no chance to get a good education and make something of themselves. It broke my heart, for them and for Israel.”
Nina remains as passionate for ISEF’s cause as she was in 1977, when Edmond Safra z”l, together with his wife Lily Safra, joined her in founding ISEF.
“The faces have changed, but the needs haven’t. When we began, nearly all our students were Sephardic. Today we also have Russians, Ethiopians, and Druze students. What they all share is outstanding intellectual gifts that might go untapped if it weren’t for ISEF’s long-term investment in their development.”
In recognition of ISEF’s major contributions to Israel, Nina has received awards from the presidents of Israel’s universities, the American Jewish Committee, Yeshiva University, the Jewish Theological Seminary, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Bar-Ilan University, the Interdisciplinary Center for Law and Business in Herzliya, and the Knesset.
“I see ISEF’s work as the truest expression of my lifelong Zionism, an abiding love and care for Israel, instilled in me from birth by my parents.”