October 9, 2023
Dear Members of the ISEF family,
We are writing to you as the IDF works to re-establish control over Israel’s South. The situation remains fluid, but we have ISEF news we feel we must share with you:
First: Our team has reached out to all 430 of our students, most of whom we are able to mark as safe, at least for now.
Unfortunately, at this writing, there are still some students unaccounted for. We continue to pray they will be found to be safe and sound. We have learned that family members of our students and alumni have been killed, severely injured, or kidnapped.
Among the unbearably high number of soldiers who have already sacrificed their lives are those dear to our own ISEF graduates. Today we heard that Dr. Rey Biton, whom many of you met at our gala in May, is mourning the loss of her husband’s brother, Colonel Ro’i Levi. Her sister, Prof. Yifat Biton learned that her husband’s brother, Hen Nachmias, was also killed in combat. Our hearts go out to the entire Biton, Levi, and Nachmias families.
Many of our ISEF students have been called up for emergency reserve duty. As I’m sure you can imagine, our entire Israeli team is in shock and struggling to function. Thankfully, one of our ISEF staff was just rescued after being trapped for a full day on a besieged kibbutz on the Gaza border. Close friends of other team members have had their children kidnapped.
Even with the beginning of the academic year now postponed, our students and staff need to know we will be there to help those in greatest need.
It is difficult to sit by, watching and feeling helpless to do anything constructive. In this crisis, we hope you too will want to show our ISEF community of students, alumni, and families that we are with them, that they are not alone. We need to do all we can to support them, grieve with them, and help them process their terrible losses.
For all these reasons, we hope to establish a dedicated ISEF Crisis Fund with your generous help. All donations earmarked for the Crisis Fund will be used to meet the emergency needs of our students. Although it is impossible to predict precisely how much will be needed, we know the needs will be great. The breadwinners of many young student families have been called to serve, and dozens of students are currently relocating out of conflict zones.
Thank you for caring. We are hopeful that we’ll see better days soon, with hostages returned and peace restored.