NIFC is very sad to share the news of the death of Shira Herzog. Shira was a wise and passionate voice and a great friend of the State of Israel. Her passing is a profound loss for all of her family and friends, for the Canadian Jewish community, and for all lovers of progressive Israel.
Over many years of close partnership with Shira Herzog and the Kahanoff Foundation, the New Israel Fund of Canada has benefitted from Shira’s wisdom, judgment and innovative philanthropy.
Now New Israel Fund of Canada is privileged, with Shira’s approval and participation, to lead a tribute to Shira. The Shira Tribute Campaign will raise funds in her honour, to support civil society in Israel.
Sponsor $5,000 – $9,999
Joan Garson & David Baskin
Chaviva Hosek & Alan Pearson
Dr. Antoinette Wertman & Dr. Isser Dubinsky
Joyce & Fred Zemans
Enabler $540 – $4,999
Naomi Azrieli & Francois Bloc
Cheryl Englander & Rabbi Larry Englander
Debbie & Norman Godfrey
Linda & Gary Goldberg
Ruth & Douglas Grant
Katrin & Maurice Green
Debra Grobstein Campbell & Barry Campbell
Prof. Sara Horowitz & Jonathan Richler
Donna Kaufman & Hon. Fred Kaufman
Mariam Leitman & Justice Craig Perkins
Gay & Gerry Lokash
Randi & Michael Marrus
Lesley Simpson & Dr. Mark Guttman
Abigail Slater & Morry Guttman
Sustainer $539 and Under
Susan & Jack Brandes
Dr. Shelley Brook
Sara & John Brotman
Stevie Cameron & Prof. David Cameron
Joanne Campbell & Gordon Cressy
Alice & Ron Charach
Susan Davis & David Dewitt
Wendy & Elliott Eisen
Dr Nancy Epstein & Dr David Goldbloom
Mary Lou Finlay
Penny Fine & Hugh Furneaux
Nora Gold & David Weiss
Anne & Ron Golden
Rosemarie & Marty Goldhar
Prof Louis Greenspan & Sheila Wolfson
Prof. Janice Gross Stein & Michael Stein
Rabbi Debra Landsberg
Prof Martin Lockshin
Fredzia Marmur & Rabbi Dow Marmur
Gloria & Norman May
Karen Minden & Harvey Schipper
Lisa Morrison & Zindel Segal
Lisa Newman & David Bereskin
Erna Paris & Tim Robinson
Robin Penslar & Prof. Derek Penslar
Arlene Perly Rae & Hon. Bob Rae
Razelle Roebuck & David MacCoy
Dr Gina Schochat-Rakoff & Prof. Vivian Rakoff
Peter and Lesley Sevitt
Susan Smith & Jeff Gustin
Edie & Harold Troper
Dr. Ellen Warner
Sheila Wolfson & Prof Louis Greenspan
“Within about a week after entering this role, I had the pleasure of meeting Shira. In the course of a half hour over coffee, Shira encapsulated the importance – the necessity – of grassroots work in Israel. It was the way she expressed her beliefs – with utter clarity, with the vivid awareness that comes from living and shaping Israel’s history – that left such an impression on me.
As Shira described it, from the ground up, Israelis are shaping the course of history with the ideals of equality and democracy on the one hand and the tools of technology, innovation, and collaborations on the other. What grassroots leaders are doing matters, it’s working, and it’s critical to Israel’s future.
In that meeting and over a relationship I have cherished, Shira has embodied the passion for Israel’s possibilities that fuels our mission. Particularly from her unique vantage point, Shira’s confidence in Israel’s potential is a beacon for those of us working towards its success.”
Executive Director, New Israel Fund of Canada
You have always been one of my favorite social change pioneers. You have all the ingredients for building the social sector in complex terrains: namely courage, creativity, faith and flexibility. That is a combination of talents rarely found in one person, and in you they operate at a personal and professional level all the time. Philanthropy and Israel has been so very lucky to have you as a champion of the very best ambitions and vision.
I thank you for being an inspiration for me and for so many others. Love and buckets of admiration from Susan Berresford.”
Susan Berresford worked for 38 years at the Ford Foundation, serving as its president for the last 12 years
“Many of the Israelis who left for other places come back and visit Israel, keep the contacts with their relatives back home, try to follow the events in Israel (especially wars, and we have plenty of them), but detach themselves from any attempt to change the situation in Israel, or even to fulfill their right to vote for the Knesset.
You, Shira, created a very different model of somebody who became Canadian but never left Israel, and never gave up on the hope to change it for the better. For me, you have always been a friend with whom I could share my concerns, and consult about possible solutions.
Your work about the rise and fall of the p2p efforts was, for me, the ultimate example of your unique way: the question for you has never been just what went wrong, but how to fix it, because of your deep belief that one should never give up of a better Middle East, of a better world. Never give up.”
Dr. Yossi Beilin is the former chairman of Israel’s Meretz party, He has held ministerial positions in the governments of Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Ehud Barak. Yossi has worked on the issue of Jewish continuity and relations between Israel and Diaspora Jewry. He is the creator of the ‘Birthright’ program, which over the years has brought tens of thousands of Jews to Israel
“I am so sorry not to be with you at this significant honor. Having you as a foundation colleague and a likeminded believer in the possibility of a Jewish democratic state with all of its implications has been nothing short of a pleasure. You have been a teacher to me. You have lit a path. You are a professional’s professional.
With every best wish.
Jeffrey R Solomon PH.D., President, The Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies
It is difficult to put into words my admiration and deep appreciation for your pioneering role and partnership in building a knowledge base for the Israeli Third Sector and civil society. In this endeavor, you have acted as a partner and friend, not a foundation executive. You provided vision and support to the Israeli Center for Third sector Research (ICTR) at Ben Gurion University – one of the pieces in a larger puzzle of an independent civil society in Israel, which you had in mind.
In the case of ICTR, that combination of vision and support meant that the projects the Kahanoff Foundation supported were strategic ones – those that leave their mark for a long time and have many ripple effects, which was indeed exactly what happened. It started with the Mapping Project of the Third Sector, which gave, for the first time a comprehensive picture of how this “creature” looks and what its main features were; this knowledge and insight later led to a government decision to formulate policy regarding the Third Sector. It then moved to the Third Sector Database we established at ICTR, which was the precursor of GuideStar Israel, established by the Ministry of Justice and Yad Hanadiv – an active computer-based dataset of all nonprofit organizations in the country, serving both lay persons, professionals and policy-makers. Finally, your support for the Nonprofit Management Educational Program that translated all we did in the previous decade into a unique training program for managers in our field, which is now an integral part of the Guilford Glazer Faculty of Business and Management.
On a personal note, I have to say that these tremendous achievements of which I obviously take pride, could not have been possible without that combination of your vision, your meticulous and uncompromising approach, striving for the highest standards and your ability to link to people and become their friends for life.”
Benny Gidron is a professor emeritus at Ben Gurion University of the Negev and the former director of the Israeli Center for Third Sector Research. He is now a professor of social enterprises at the College of Management Academic Studies (COMAS) in Rishon Le’Zion
“It was my great honor to meet Shira Herzog more than a decade ago when I was the co-executive director of Sikkuy-the Association for the Advancement of Civic Equality in Israel. From our first meeting I learned to admire her and to appreciate the rare blend of qualities that she was graced with: wisdom, initiative, awareness and commitment to the importance of principles and social change, dedication and trust. And also the ability to venture into new paths and to leave her mark and to achieve significant and sustainable change.
Shira burns with a clear and focused vision solidly built on a foundation of morality and values – working to advance the circumstances, the potential and the resources to have an impact on people so as to realize her vision. So for me Shira has set a shining example of an effective and authentic leader.”
Ali Haider, Esq is the former co-executive director of Sikkuy
Many wonderful human beings on the North American continent have been involved in philanthropic endeavors for social change and social justice in Israel during the last 20 years. Shira is unique among them. She seamlessly bridges and blends her Israeliness with her Canadian identity, representing the best of both. Her profound knowledge and awareness of Israeli society exceeds that of most scholars found in universities and research institutes. She is cerebrally sharp as a razor, with an expressive capacity far beyond that of professional orators. And by no means last, her social sensitivity is both more impressive and more attuned than the combined total of that of all the tent protest activists on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv in 2011.
I was privileged to be Shira’s partner in several social change projects, and because space is limited, I’ll mention just one of them, the “Maof” program (“vision” or “soar” in Hebrew), whose purpose was to place Israeli Palestinian academics in institutions of higher education. Shira recognized a serious problem – severe and pervasive under-representation of Israeli Palestinians in university faculties. She designed an effective tool to deal with the problem and together we were able to induce the state bureaucracy to voluntarily endorse and continue the process we had begun. Thanks to “Maof” grants, the number of Israeli Palestinian faculty at Israeli universities increased more than tenfold in only 15 years.
This project was only one of many in which Shira revealed her multifarious qualities, which include wisdom, a far-ranging intellect, managerial and organizational skills, and especially a unique warmth and compassion. These qualities were utilized fully in the many projects she initiated either with the New Israel Fund or with other partners. For me, my friendship with Shira has enriched the meaning of my entire life.”
Yoram Peri holds the Abraham S. and Jack Kay Chair in Israel Studies, and is the
Director of The Joseph B. and Alma Gildenhorn Institute for Israel Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park
“Shira Herzog challenged our assumptions and conclusions (I loved the way Shira made us think over and over again on the problem and the way to tackle it) but yet was open to support new and experimental ideas as long as the were well based.
It was a pleasure and an honor to work with Shira and I consider myself lucky to have such an opportunity at quite early stage of my career.”
Vered Livne was ACRI’s (The Association for Civil Rights in Israel) Executive Director and Agenda’s founding Executive Director
“My acquaintance with Shira goes back some 50 years. We were both members of the Bnei Akiva youth movement, and were almost of the same “shichva” or cohort. Once a year, we put on a play in which those asked to participate in the venture were chosen not necessarily due to their acting skills, but rather based upon their ability to memorize hundreds of lines. However, Shira could do both. Those few months of rehearsals created a sense of community among the participants: we had a joint mission to fulfill alongside common experiences. It was something between a melting pot and a pressure cooker. One year, Shira played the role of a responsible mother and I was assigned to play an adolescent facing the serious questions of life. Do not bother trying to imagine what happened in the breaks between the rehearsals and after the sessions when we went back home. Nothing romantic but definitely a lot of fun. Shira could add a few items from her memoirs.
Since this experience our paths have crossed many times — in particular around one area: her thoughtful and generous activities for the benefit of those whose voices are less heard and less empowered in our society: those from financially disadvantaged backgrounds and minority groups. As Rector [i.e. Provost] of the Hebrew University back in the turn of the century, together we focused on strengthening these two groups. My part in this venture was the easier – to bring to her attention those potential leaders from among our students who needed support in their studies. Shira was the one who had to look for the resources to support them. Once I began to serve as President of the University, I could rely on that same partnership that aimed to make a change. We can see some progress. Perhaps one of Shira’s most effective initiatives has been the MAOF fellowships that she championed, which created a national program via the Council for Higher Education to invest in the most brilliant young Arab scientists and scholars in order to encourage their advancement in academia. It has been said many times that education is the key to mobility, and certainly this program, which provided 3-year fellowships to top young
Arab academics, has not only broken some glass ceilings but has given the Hebrew University, and other Israeli universities, some of our most talented young faculty members. They in turn are mentoring and serving as role models for those who will follow. Like a true scholar, Shira works towards a vision but is always grounded in data, in studies, in reality. Like a true visionary, Shira can identify areas where change is most needed – and which interventions may have the greatest impact. Israeli society is that much better thanks to Shira’s vision and tireless work. It has been my great privilege to walk some of this path with Shira, and I congratulate her on this well-deserved honor.”
Menahem Ben Sasson is a former member of the Knesset. He is the president of Hebrew University of Jerusalem
We met in the late 1990’s during my first stay in Toronto. You were a whirlwind – running the foundation, flying back and forth between Canada and Israel, hosting a TV program devoted to Israeli affairs, fervently committed to strengthening weak or neglected members and groups of Israeli society. At the time we were both too frenetic to do more than approvingly note one another’s work.
Over the years our acquaintance deepened into a friendship. Your people-oriented outlook (Jewish people but also people as the plural of persons) enables you to be wonderfully astute. You have a knack to ground abstract thoughts in telling anecdotes or experiences. A conversation with you always includes practical suggestions: rules of thumb, guiding principles, people to meet, books to read, lectures to attend. Your perceptive assessment of people – and no-nonsense critical edge – is attested by your choice of the people and their NGO’s who are at the core of the decent and caring work done in Israel’s embattled “Jewish, democratic and humane” non-profit sector.
Your life-choices and experiences – lessons from successes, lessons from mistakes – have made you who you are today: a lovely, smart, judicious, compassionate, caring and moderately temperate person and friend. The Shira Tribute initiative is a fitting testament to your life’s journeys. The life of a woman continuously learning, one who exemplifies how giving (neteenah) and accepting (kabbalah) create a better Jewish, Israeli and human world.
Daphna and I loved every minute spent with you during our recent stay in Toronto. All of them were on the backdrop of ice-storms, freezing temperatures, slippery sidewalks – which made them all there more meaningful, intense, and warm. We look forward to hugging you in Jerusalem soon!”
Professor Dan Avnon founded and directed Hebrew University’s Gilo Center for Citizenship, Democracy & Civic Education
“My initial impression of Shira, who I first met at a seaside café in Tel Aviv on my first visit to Israel as NIF’s new CEO in 2009, was, “this woman knows everything.” Almost five years later, I still think that. Quite simply, I have yet to encounter anybody with Shira’s breadth and depth of knowledge of social change in Israel. She possesses expertise on everything related to NIF and the work we do.
But Shira is not only very smart; she is also very wise. Her unique perspective is invaluable, and she is incredibly generous with her wisdom and her time. She has become a trusted colleague to me; a sounding board, a dispenser of good advice and wise counsel. And more importantly, she has become a friend. I know I speak for everyone at NIF when I say, ‘Shira: we love you!”
Daniel Sokatch is the Chief Executive Officer of the New Israel Fund
“To Shira, the One and Only
First and foremost for me, Shira is a close friend with whom I have accumulated hundreds of hours of shared thinking, consultation, intimate conversation, laughter and tears, dancing and drinking, food and storytelling.
Shira has been the ultimate mentor to me: knowledgeable and opinionated, attentive and exacting, strategic, able to distinguish between the core and what is secondary, forward looking, the asker of the right questions at the right time, giver of advice which is golden, the one who always says something both innovative and encouraging. An hour with Shira was always the basis for months of work going forward.
I was privileged to have Shira’s involvement as a strategic donor in two organizations which I helped lead: Maala- Business for Social Responsibility and Kav Mashve, a coalition of business people working to advance Arab professionals. Shira knew how to be a strategic investor who empowered and oriented without pressuring or entering into conflicts. She knew how to bring professional and strategic added-value alongside the essential financial resources. A woman of vision and action, she knew how to draft the vision and then support organizations and their staff to actualize that shared vision.
Shira has been a true leader to Israeli civil society and has left her stamp on every arena and organization with which she has been involved.
And, for me, always, she will be my beloved friend.”
Irit Tamir is a social entrepreneur founder and former Director of Kav Mashve
I recall our first meeting back in the early 80s in Ireland, when your uncle the late President Herzog, whom I worked for, paid a state visit. I never said it to you before, but I was impressed and inspired listening to your speech at the Jewish community. It took a short time getting to know your special personality, and became close friends.
I had the pleasure of following your great activities in many fields, from the political and policy-making arena, through the academy, and of course, in the field with the organizations. In some initiatives, we worked together. It wasn’t long before I admired your spirit and drive. You know how to encourage people to dream, to portrait a vision, and to shape a strategy to make it real. You were always committed, in heart and soul, to every endeavor you were involved in, big or small, knowing how and making sure to achieve the best results.
One can draw a long list of projects you were engaged in. This list will include, inter alia, promoting philanthropy, encouraging corporate social responsibility (Ma’ala); building infrastructure to the not-for-profit sector (ICLA), including research in universities (Ben-Gurion University); supporting Jewish-Arabs relation (Mifalot Hapoel); providing support to data-base on the third sector (Guidestar-Israel); rendering academic programs and student grants to Arab students (Maof). This is just the tip of a long list of fields and projects in which you were a major driving force.
The support extended to the Israeli society through your visionary pioneering work is enormous. Your fingertip is felt everywhere.
But above all, Shira, you are not just a great leader; you are a good friend always helping others hoping for the best.”
Nissan Limor is a professor specializing in civil society and the not for profit sector and former Director-General of the Israeli Council for Higher Education
“On behalf of Tel Aviv University, I would like to extend our warmest wishes to Shira Herzog and congratulate her on the occasion of the Tribute event and campaign.
Shira and the Kahanoff Foundation’s involvement with Tel Aviv University began 15 years
ago, and since then the Foundation has spearheaded diverse and innovative projects on
campus in Asian studies, media & politics, governance, Arab student retention and sports education.
Shira’s boundless public consciousness has illuminated this relationship throughout. Her commitment to a socially just Israel has especially improved the standing of minority
students and faculty members at the University. We feel fortunate to have partnered with
her and the Kahanoff Foundation for the benefit of Israeli higher education and of the Jewish world as a whole.
Shira, as you look back on a lifetime of accomplishments, I wish you many more years of
good health and significant achievements in the many causes to which you have dedicated yourself.”
Joseph Klafter is the President of Tel Aviv University
“Shira Herzog Sang a Joyous Song to the non-profit organizations in Israel working for greater equality between Jews and Arabs. Her concern, commitment, and wisdom with regard to strategy resulted in a significant contribution to a better Israeli society.”
Barbara Swirski is an Executive Director of an Israeli NOG focused on social justice
“At a time when Sikkuy, the organization for civic equality in Israel needed the stability of solid funding, Shira stepped in to discuss how she could help. As the conversation progressed, we understood that her offer was not mere generosity but rather reflected her deep personal and professional understanding of the need for equality between Jews and Arabs in Israel and the role to be played by Sikkuy in addressing this challenge.
The more I worked with Shira, the more I appreciated her as a sophisticated professional funder and a true partner for thinking and planning. Shira took real interest and became deeply involved in what we do here to build a shared society of Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel.”
Shuli Dichter, Co-Director of Sikkuy, the Organization for Civic Equality in Israel 1998-2008.
“All will praise Shira for her body of work that strengthened Israel and the Jewish people. But my story is different. Shira was asked by young leadership of UJA to speak about the condition of Israel-Arabs, she could not make the date and suggested that I go in her stead. I agreed. A week later a close friend invited me to go with him on an exciting fishing trip. I declined because of this speaking engagement. My friend’s small plane crashed and he died. Shira had simply saved my life.”
Rabbi Brian Lurie served for seventeen years as Executive Director of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties and for five years as President of the San Francisco Jewish Museum. He currently serves as the Chair of the New Israel Fund.
“I met Shira while heading the Higher Education System in Israel: Shira was active in promoting the hiring of Arab faculty at Israeli Universities with the support of the Kahanoff Foundation. These Kahanoff fellowships have played a tremendously important role in opening up Israeli academic institutions to Arab professors, and in so doing they have contributed greatly to the integration of Arabs to Israeli society. I deeply appreciate Shira’s role in that regard – in the name of Israeli academia, it is a pleasure to salute her for her outstanding contribution.”
Professor Manuel Trajtenberg, Chairman of the Planning and Budgeting Committee, the Council of Higher Education
“We send hugs, love, and appreciation to dear Shira, whose social vision, incisiveness, wisdom, and determination has turned a small and confused organization into a solid framework standing on firm feet and helping 40,000 children to emerge from the fringes of society and wretchedness in order to realize their dreams and hopes.
In nearly 400 places, mainly on the fringes of Israeli society, children today are realizing their dream of becoming soccer players, and “paying” for the privilege with improvement of their grades in school, acquisition of worthy social behaviors, and bridging of the gaps between various opinions, religions, beliefs, and abilities.
On behalf of us all and myself in particular, I embrace wonderful Shira with a huge hug of thanks and endless love.”
Moshe Teumim, Chairman of Gitam Advertising
“As part of the NIF community we count ourselves among the mourners. She was a shining example of someone who turned words into deeds, and her passion for both Israel and progressive values inspires all of us. Israel and Canada lost a true champion this week, but we will do our best to honor her memory by continuing to fight for civil rights in Israel.
May her name be a blessing.”
Attorney Sharon Abraham-Weiss is the Executive Director, The Association for Civil Rights in Israel
“Motivated by the principles of social justice and equality, Shira Herzog has played a unique role in the institutes of higher education in Israel, in particular Tel Aviv University.
Her support of the program “The Kahanoff Retention Initiative for Israeli-Arab Students” reflects her deep commitment to the integration of Arab Israelis into Israeli society.
One of the most vital challenges facing Israeli society today is strengthening the co-existence of Jews and Arabs. Israeli Universities, through their affirmed mission of promoting an agenda of social cohesion, provide the best channel towards achieving the desired goals of interaction and integration.
With the help and passion of people like Shira Herzog, we can make significant progress towards this end.
We are grateful to Shira for her valuable dedication and support.”
Prof. Raanan Rein, Vice President of the Tel Aviv University
“I met Shira a decade ago. In her role heading the Kahanoff Foundation in Israel, Shira led an innovative perception in the world of philanthropy: the need to invest in organizational infrastructure for the sake of strengthening the managerial and financial robustness of social organizations. The professional approach she instituted viewed these organizations as long term strategic partners since they share mutual interests.
At the outset of the Gandyr Foundation’s activities, we looked on Shira as a leader and role model, someone to learn from in the field of philanthropy. Her approach influenced our decision to fund and to invest resources in development and support of tools and infrastructures in social organizations as fundamental to reinforcing Israel’s social sector.
Dr. Ronit Amitm is the Executive Director of The Gandyr Foundation
“There are not many philanthropic personalities that I would categorize as visionary leaders. Shira certainly was one. In every encounter Shira not only heard what I had to say but challenged me to go further. I learnt about PRI’s from Shira, I knew that there was a need for reasonably priced rental space for non-profits but she pushed my thinking in the way it could be done.
When I worked on the culture of giving in Israel, it was Shira with her multi-cultural outlook on philanthropy that helped us dream of the diversity of options and funded the support agencies to make it happen.
When I started YEDID, Shira was one of the first people that I turned to for support. She was among our first supporters. Every meeting with Shira was an intellectual challenge and a learning experience. I am so sad now that the classes have come to an end.
May her memory live on in all she has touched and in the activities she has supported.
Sari Revkin is the Executive Director of Yedid: The Association for Community Empowerment
“Among her myriad achievements for shared society-building in Israel, Shira was instrumental in catalyzing the now systematic integration of unemployed Arab-Palestinian-Israeli teachers in Jewish-Israeli schools; thereby grasping strategic educational, social and economic opportunities to create a more cohesive and equitable Israel. Thanks to Shira’s profound understanding of Israeli society and potentially effective theories of change, together with her philanthropic intuition and calculated philanthropic courage to lead in what many viewed as just one more “mission impossible”, it was Shira who was first to respond to Merchavim’s request for an initial feasibility-study grant on this issue.
Several years later, thanks to Shira’s vision and the Kahanoff Foundation’s subsequent lead investment in a three-year pilot, I was proud to personally inform Shira last summer, that Israel’s Ministry of Education had adopted Merchavim’s recommendations and had accepted direct responsibility for the integration of 500 unemployed Arab-Palestinian-Israeli math, science and English teachers in Jewish schools over the coming five years. Whether they know it or not; all participants and beneficiaries of this activity and all who care about and will benefit from the future cohesion and success of Israeli society, are indebted to Shira in this, as in so many other regards.
May her memory be blessed.”
Mike Prashker is the founder and CEO of Merchavim – The Institute for the Advancement of Shared Citizenship in Israel
“Ten years ago, I decided to register a Jewish-Arab football team, Hapoel Abu Gosh-Mevaseret. Shortly afterwards, I met Shira and told her that the trigger for my decision was the racism of Beitar Jerusalem – the most popular football team in Israel, at least then.
A year or two earlier Beitar had a player they brought from Nigeria. He was a fantastic defense player, but once they discovered he was a Muslim they got rid of him instantly. I could not stand it.
Shira liked the idea of a joint Jewish-Arab team with a fifty-fifty Jewish/Arab board, and decided to support us. It was a meaningful donation that enabled us to do reasonably well as a third division amateur team.
Six years ago we were approached by the supporters of Hapoel Jerusalem who shared our principles and together we founded Katamon, which gradually became a successful team, owned by its own supporters.
This year the idea of non-racial football in the Jerusalem area achieved its real victory. Without us being involved, many hundreds of Beitar Jerusalem’s supporters announced that they were leaving their original team because they could no longer stand its behavior – especially its determination to exclude Arabs. They decided to found a new team — Beitar Nordia – which would be open to Arab players, one of whom they have already recruited. Nordia’s assistant coach will be one of Abu Gosh-Mevaseret’s past star players.
Although we were not involved, it is a huge victory for our principles. Abu Gosh-Mevaseret and Katamon somehow paved the way. And Shira’s original support helped contribute to this success story.”
Alon Liel is the former Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a former Ambassador, and an International Relations lecturer at Tel Aviv University and the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center.
“My words honouring Shira Herzog z”l first took shape in formulating an appropriate appreciation for an upcoming symposium in her honour organized by the New Israel Fund of Canada. Aware of her grave condition it was a challenge to be authentic without slipping into eulogizing.
Sadly, that is no longer a challenge. Learning of her passing while out of the country was still painful and dispiriting — news of a loss for which I thought I had girded/fortified myself. It left me bereft. Attempts at articulating this profound loss leaves me wanting.
We had developed a respectful and warm collegial relationship in our various roles in Canada. The loss is magnified by how that relationship developed over these last years. Her words of support and appreciation helped me greatly in dealing with some difficult challenges. Quite remarkable, when one realizes the much greater challenges she was dealing with – truly acts of generosity and chesed , for which I will always be grateful and treasure.
Coupled with a deep sense of personal loss, I grieve for our community’s loss. We are witnessing, and will continue to hear, from leaders across the spectrum of the irreplaceable impact Shira has had. From my vantage point, a great contribution was her articulate and unwavering belief in the democratic and progressive homeland for the Jewish people. This included an understanding that Ahavat Israel, both narrowly and broadly defined, could include, and sometimes required, critiques of policies and practices of particular governments over the course of her lifetime.
I once asked her of what it must feel like to be so identified with the place where a main thoroughfare in its capital is named after grandfather. I came to understand that her devotion included honest communication of sophisticated and nuanced assessments of the intricate challenges facing the country she so loved. Even in critique, her analyses were measured and fair, never shrill or dogmatic.
She will be greatly missed. May her words, actions and legacy be a comfort and inspiration to us all.”
Jay Yair Brodbar was Executive Director of the New Israel Fund of Canada from 2005-2012
“In an introduction to the report summarizing the achievements of the Kahanoff Foundation, Shira wrote: “In philanthropy one must think from the heart and contribute from the head”. The spirit and reality of this philosophy represents my experience of partnership with Shira over the many years, starting with the early days leading up to the founding of Maala – Business for Social Responsibility in Israel, and through her ongoing involvement with it.
Shira was a remarkable woman: brilliant, brave, assertive, and unique. With social vision, she built Israeli civil society — founding or strengthening its most important infrastructure organizations. One of those organizations was Maala. Shira was convinced that the Israeli business sector needed to be involved and committed to social values and she pushed me to identify the best model for accomplishing this in the Israeli setting. She didn’t limit her involvement to financial support – as important as it was. Her commitment was reflected in her active involvement in the initial conceptualization and planning phase, though the early development of the organization, and into our subsequent work. With “motherly” concern she involved herself with every important detail and as a “counselor” she worked alongside us with a unique blend of responsibility, assertiveness, and self confidence. She was ever proud of Maala’s record of accomplishments over the years.
In the last few years, our relationship changed its mode and turned into a strong bonding within the amazing group of women that Shira gathered around her. We were all leaders of strong, leading organizations, we were all opinionated, busy, involved, but when we met – we were “Shira’s Girls”, pulled together to her magnetic force.
Shira left a lasting imprint on civil society in Israel and on everyone with whom she worked. We mourn her death even as we give tribute to the ongoing impact of her service and vision on the people she touched and the organizations that she built. May her memory be a blessing.”
Talia Aharoni was the founding Executive Director of Maala- Business for Social Responsibility
It is hard for me to believe that I am writing these words for my beloved Shira, who is no longer with us. I had hoped that she would be able to read and hear what so many people close to her feel about her, especially since so much of how she spent her life was not about herself but about others: helping weaker communities struggling to protect and realize their rights, Arab students and academics unable to enter the workforce, immigrant youth trying to integrate into Israeli society, the disadvantaged trying to strengthen themselves and their communities. And beyond this, she also played an important role in helping to develop the infrastructure and knowledge of civil society as it has emerged in Israel. Shira deserved to enjoy so many of these moments of satisfaction. But she left us all too soon and my heart is now broken.
Much can be said of Shira. She was the living spirit behind the Kahanoff Foundation, and she was a philanthropist who combined so wonderfully heart and mind, a deep sensitivity alongside sharp analysis and clear strategy. Shira demonstrated how to develop long-term and trusting relationships with grantees. She also knew how to develop an entire field of work, moving beyond support for just a few projects, and thereby helped to shape Israeli society. All this I have learnt from Shira, who was a mentor and a model for me. And for all this, Israeli society owes her great thanks.
But for me, Shira was much more than a professional colleague. Over the years, she became a close personal friend, with whom I could share everything. That was one of Shira’s talents: to know how to transform professional relationships into real friendships- friendships for life. And so she founded the group “Shira’s Girls” that brought together a group of wonderful women who met for deep conversations with a healthy dose of fun and laughter. This group, “Shira’s Girls” now feels orphaned…
I cannot conclude without also saying a word about the noble way in which Shira handled the illness which ultimately took her life: she faced it with honesty, bravery and dignity… the same way she conducted herself throughout her life.
Shira, I miss you already. May your memory be a blessing!
Rachel Liel is the Executive Director of the New Israel Fund in Israel.
I met Shira when I took my first foundation job close to 20 years ago. Her knowledge and mastery in the world of strategic philanthropy were both stimulating and just a bit intimidating for a newcomer such as me. Over the years, we became colleagues, comrades, collaborators, co-funders –and most dear to my heart – friends. Whenever I had a particularly challenging problem I would call Shira, knowing that she would help me navigate through to the right conclusion. As newer colleagues entered the field and asked me who was the most strategic social change funder in Israel, I directed them, without hesitation, to Shira.
Over the years, Shira shared the other facets of her life which made her such an interesting and multi-dimensional person: her disciplined mastery of Pilates, articles and appearances in the Canadian media, her re-engaged interest in Jewish study –and above all her abiding love for her beloved son Kobi and for Shelby, Olivia and Ethan.
Shira’s passionate, smart, creative and engaged work has changed the face of Israeli civil society and created organizational structures that will continue to facilitate social change for many years to come. Shira’s, too short, life — embodying the qualities expressed by Ralph Waldo Emerson — was a success:
“To laugh often and love much; to win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children; to earn the approbation of honest citizens and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to give of one’s self; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived – this is to have succeeded.”
We were blessed by her presence in our lives and by her memory.
Aaron Back is a former Program Officer for Israel at the Ford Foundation and Director of the Social Justice Fund
Shira Herzog was an exceptional leader and philanthropist. She embodied in one person a broad strategic outlook, a deep understanding of the Israeli reality and an uncompromising and unlimited commitment to advancing Israel as a country that would be more just and more egalitarian for all of its citizens – Jews and Arabs alike. Shira worked tirelessly and systematically for so many years to achieve this vision. She succeeded in advancing many broad-based coalitions and activities that were responsible for achieving real and significant change both on the power structures in Israel and on the lives of so many individuals.
Shira also understood that to advance social changes one had to empower the agents of change and the leaders of the organizations working for change. I met Shira when I was relatively young and the new co-executive director of Sikkuy and was privileged to benefit from her wisdom and generosity. In all of our meetings, in addition to the analysis of the situation, the tactics and strategies, Shira would devote time to encouraging us to continue and expand our work. Shira wisely succeeded in doing one of the most important things for achieving “tikkun olam” – to instill in all of us the same energy and commitment that she had within her to work for monumental changes.
Shira is no longer with us but her spirit and dedication continue to guide us.
Ron Gerlitz, Co-Executive Director, Sikkuy
I met Shira 8 years ago, but I feel I knew Shira for ages. When I first met with her, she was the senior representative of the Kahanoff Foundation in Israel. Since a foundation has no face, the lovely face of Shira became the Foundation’s face. The Kahanoff Foundation got a huge advantage out of it.
The first thing that extremely impressed me about Shira was her dedication to the state of Israel. Her care was so clear and open. The feeling she always gave me was that Israel is her place. She is one of us, an Israeli. She suffered with us our pain. She was happy with our success. She understood Israel: its vision as it was stated in the declaration of Independence; Its reality and the distance from the vision; what is needed to be done to repair it.
To that reparation, Shira worked. She contributed by her work, knowledge, sharp eyes and mind, understanding, and especially by her values- to shorten the gap between the vision and the reality of Israel. She cared about equality, and put a lot of efforts in shared society of Palestinians citizen of Israel and Jews.
She was aware of gender issues and fought for equality in that arena –especially for women. She was a feminist who understood that to achieve a better live for woman you need to recruit men for that mission. She knew how to work with people. How to inspire them to get the best out of them- for their benefit and the goal of their work.
Shira believed in woman power and cooperation. She created a group of activists that gave themselves her name- Shira’s girls. That group of woman became friends with each other and turned to be a group of support to each other in our rainy days as well as in the days of happiness and joy. We knew- thanks to Shira- many dinners of laughter and joy with Shira and all of us together.
Shira was a friend with all of us. She will be remembered as an activist for peace and democracy of Israel. But above all she will remain in our hearts as a personal friend of us all with whom we could share our feelings-worries as well as happiness.
Shira was a part of us, and we loved her with all our hearts. Shira will always be remembered as such.
Talia Sasson, the co-chair of the International Council of the New Israel Fund and former Head of the Special Tasks Division of Israel’s State Attorney’s Office
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