The Gallanter Prize is awarded annually to an outstanding Israeli activist who has made significant contributions to the field of social justice in Israel.
Founded in 2013 as part of the New Israel Fund’s annual Guardian of Democracy Dinner in San Francisco, the Gallanter Prize recognizes emerging leaders in Israeli civil society and highlights their exceptional work. Winners receive a cash award in support of their work and they are invited to address NIF’s Guardian of Democracy Dinner.
The prize is named for and sponsored by two esteemed leaders of NIF and the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish community, Linda and Sanford (Sandy) Gallanter.
Efrat Yerday, 2020 Winner
Efrat Yerday is a teacher, an activist, the chairwoman of the Association for Ethiopian Jews, and a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology at Tel Aviv University. She holds a master’s degree in politics and government from the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. In the course of her studies, she established the'”Ethiopolitics”, reading group for students of Ethiopian descent who wanted to broaden their knowledge of Ethiopian history and issues of identity and racism in Israel and elsewhere. In 2012, Yerday founded the Ra’av (Hunger) publishing house in Be’er Sheva and edited its first book of translated poetry, Kushila’imashelahem—A Temporary Anthology of Black Poetry. In 2015-2018, Yerday headed the research group “Ethiopians Jews: Rewriting Their Story” at Van Leer Jerusalem Institute. In 2010–2012, she served as the spokesperson for the Association for Ethiopian Jews. Yerday has previously written the “Shekhora Mi’skhor” (“Blacker than Black”) column in an independent magazine on socio-economic topics and she frequently writes for Haaretz.
Past Gallanter Prize Winners
Maisam Jaljuli, 2019 Winner
Maisam Jaljuli is a Palestinian citizen of Israel, a feminist activist and a political organizer.
Maisam became an activist while working with at-risk youth in the Israeli municipality office in Tira, the Palestinian-Israeli town where she now lives. When the municipality threatened to cut the jobs of low-wage workers, she led the struggle against the administration. During that fight she felt that the Histadrut, the powerful Israeli Labor Federation, had not provided her with the help needed and she decided to run for a position of leadership in the Histadrut herself. In 2007, she was elected to the Histadrut and became the chairwoman of NAAMAT, the Hisdadrut’s internal women’s organization and the largest women’s organization in Israel, as a candidate for the Hadash Party. Maisam has been organizing women in six Arab-Israel towns ever since. It was in this capacity that she helped organize one of the most massive, country-wide demonstrations in Israel’s history last year – the protest of violence against women.
Maisam is also helping to build a shared future for Jews and Arabs in Israel and works closely with several NIF grantees (including all of the following). She is a member of the national leadership team of Omdim Beyachad (Standing Together), a grassroots Israeli movement that organizes Arabs and Jews in Israel around campaigns for peace, equality, and social justice to help transform Israeli society. She also sits on the boards of Sikkuy, an organization that advocates for equal treatment and equal presence in public spaces for Arabs and Jews, and Itach-Ma’aki: Women Lawyers for Social Justice.
Maisam holds a BA in Criminology and Sociology and an MA in Educational Leadership from Bar Ilan University. She lives with her family in Tira. She is honored to receive this year’s Gallanter Prize.
Dr. Mushira Aboo Dia, 2018 Winner
Dr. Mushira Aboo Dia is a specialist in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Hadassah Medical Center and the chairperson of NIF grantee Physicians for Human Rights Israel, where she has volunteered in open and mobile clinics since 2004. In addition to being a senior physician in the delivery room, Mushira serves as an on-call doctor in the Bat Ami Sexual Assault Treatment Center and works in the high-risk pregnancy clinic in the Women’s Health Center of Clalit Health Services in Beit Shemesh. Between 2014 and 2016, she worked as the Administrative Director of Women’s Health in the Palestinian population of East Jerusalem by Leumit Health Services. Mushira was born and raised in Ramla and lived in Moshav Even Sapir. In September 2017, she returned to Israel after completing her Master’s Degree in Public Administration at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government as as Wexner Israeli Fellow.
Mushira chose to use the prize money to create a scholarship fund in memory of her mother, who did not have access to higher education. The scholarships will be awarded to graduate students in the Hebrew University who come from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Dr. Yulia Zemlinskaya, 2017 Winner
Dr. Yulia Zemlinskaya is a leader of the progressive Russian-speaking community in Israel. In 2017, Yulia was the director of NIF grantee Morashtenu (“Our Heritage”). Under her leadership, first as a board member and then as the organization’s director, Morashtenu has become the leading voice in shaping democratic discourse in Israel’s Russian-speaking community and creating spaces to talk about democracy, human rights, social justice, and pluralism in the Russian-speaking community.
Mutasim Ali, 2016 Winner
Mutasim Ali is one of the leaders of the African asylum seeker community in Israel. He is the former Executive Director of the New Israel Fund grantee the African Refugee Development Center, and in 2016 became the first Darfuri refugee recognized by Israel. After being sent away from his home to attend school, Mutasim’s world was turned upside down when his village in the Darfur region was attacked and he took it upon himself to survive, escape and tell the story of the ongoing genocide in his home country. Mutasim has been living in Israel as an asylum-seeker since 2009 and in 2016 received NIF’s Gallanter Prize for Emerging Israeli Social Justice Leaders. Mutasim finished his undergraduate law degree in Israel and is currently working towards his masters in International and Comparative Law at the George Washington University.
Mickey Gitzin, 2015 Winner
Mickey Gitzin is the Director of the New Israel Fund in Israel. Mickey also serves as a city council member in Tel Aviv-Jaffa, where he chairs committees for diversity and public housing. He is also the Mayor’s advisor for global development and innovation. Prior to joining NIF, Mickey was the founding director of “Israel Hofsheet” (Be Free Israel), a leading grassroots organization fighting for separation of religion and state in Israel. Previously, Mickey was the spokesperson for MK Ilan Gilon (Meretz) and the Associate Director of “Festival BeShekel,” an organization advancing arts and culture in Israel’s geographic and socioeconomic periphery. After completing his military service as an intelligence officer, he served as a shaliach (emissary) in South Bend, Indiana for the Jewish Agency for Israel. Mickey holds a Master’s in Public Policy from University College-London, for which he received a Chevening Scholarship from the British Foreign Office and the British Council. In 2013, Mickey received NIF UK’s Human Rights Award.
Einat Hurvitz, 2014 Winner
In 2014, Attorney Einat Hurvitz was the director of the legal and public policy departments at the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC). She headed many of IRAC’s legal battles including successful petitions against gender segregation on public buses in Israel, racist incitement by state-funded Rabbis, equal recognition and resources to the Reform and Conservative streams, and the groundbreaking case allowing Women of the Wall to pray at the women’s section of the Western Wall.
Safa Younes & Rotem Ilan, 2013 Winners
Safa Younes was founder of Arous Elbahar, a non-profit organization that works to financially empower Arab women and increase their involvement in economic and community life in Jaffa. Their programs provide hundreds of women with the tools and resources they need in order to advance socioeconomically and defend their rights. Safa established a number of social business initiatives within Arous Elbahar to promote skilled and respectable employment for Arab women in Jaffa, including initiatives such as “Jaffa Dolls,” in which women over the age of 45 sew designer dolls and experiential Arabic courses where Arab women in Jaffa offer classes to the Jewish public in spoken Arabic and Arabic culture.
Rotem Ilan was the founding director of Israeli Children, an organization established in 2009 to fight the deportation of 1,200 children of migrant workers who were born and raised in Israel. After Israeli Children led a successful campaign to stop the deportations, the Israeli government granted legal status to hundreds of children of migrant workers and their families. In 2013, Israeli Children merged with NIF’s flagship grantee the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI).