News & Events

Mandel Graduate Initiatives: Making a Difference During Wartime

Meet six Mandel graduates whose civil initiatives are making a significant contribution to immediate and long-term needs that emerged in Israeli society during the Gaza war

Buildings and tents surrounded by mountainsTreatment and healing center in Eilat (Photo: Suzy Shrem)​

Mandel graduates throughout Israel sprang into action following the horrific events of October 7 and launched a variety of initiatives to strengthen Israeli society, boost its resilience, and meet immediate and long-term needs that emerged in the wake of the war. To date, the Foundation has awarded a total of $850,000 to Mandel graduates in support of their work addressing wartime needs.

In the short video clips below, six graduates who were awarded grants describe their initiatives, which are making a difference in Israel today. These initiatives include: providing housing and support for Eritrean asylum-seekers from Sderot; a treatment and healing center in Eilat for survivors of the Nova festival massacre; re-creating the pre-schools and kindergartens of children who were evacuated from Kibbutz Be’eri; an emergency center in Rahat that distributes food packages to Jews and Arabs in need; volunteer police patrols across the country staffed by Haredi volunteers; and a project to preserve the WhatsApp messages exchanged by victims of the October 7 attack.

Rabbi Yoav Ende
Graduate of the Mandel Regional Leadership Program in the North, Cohort 6

In the days following October 7, the residents of Sderot were evacuated from the city. Soon after, Rabbi Yoav Ende, the director of the Hannaton Educational Center at Kibbutz Hannaton in the North, opened the doors of the center to 30 Eritrean asylum seekers from Sderot – men, women and children who had not been evacuated despite the massive missile attack on the city and the murder of several members of their community, because they are not citizens of Israel. The Center’s educational team took care of all their needs, including accommodations, meals, clothing, transportation for medical treatment, administrative arrangements, integrating children into the regional education system, assisting with homework, helping with employment, and organizing activities for families.

Dr. Suzy Shrem Cohen
Graduate of the Mandel Program for Local Leadership in Eilat, Cohort 1

Dr. Suzy Shrem Cohen, an economist, educator, and social activist in Eilat who was recently elected to the city council, established a treatment center for approximately 50 young people from Eilat who survived the massacre at the Supernova music festival. The treatment center offers emotional and physical rehabilitation for survivors and their parents as part of an effort to prevent post-trauma. It also provides services to people who are experiencing secondary trauma after the murder of friends or family members at the festival.

Inbal Ron
Graduate of the Mandel Program for Leadership in Jewish Culture, Cohort 1

Within a week after October 7, Inbal Ron, an educator and expert in education system management, had re-created all seven pre-schools and kindergartens that had been operating in Kibbutz Be’eri before the attack, at the Dead Sea Hotels where residents of the kibbutz had been evacuated. The pre-schools and kindergartens were designed to be identical to the original classroom spaces that the children were forced to leave behind.

Sleman Abo Madegam
Graduate of the Mandel Cultural Leadership Program in the Negev, Cohort 5

Sleman Abo Madegam, the director of the Pais Cultural Center in the Bedouin city of Rahat, set up the largest emergency food distribution center in the country, which provides food to all those in need in the area, Jews and Arabs alike.

​Miki Chayat
Graduate of the Mandel Program for Leadership Development in the Haredi Community, Cohort 9

Miki Chayat is the head of a non-profit that works to increase resilience in the Haredi community through sports and physical activity. After October 7, Miki recognized the importance of involving the Haredi community in defense and security roles. He established a large network of Haredi volunteers who are carrying out security patrols in diverse communities across the country.

Yaniv Hegyi

​Graduate of the Mandel Program for Regional Leadership in the Gaza Border Communities, Cohort 1

Yaniv Hegyi, a project manager and technology advisor who miraculously survived the Hamas massacre in Kibbutz Be’eri, took on the project of collecting all the WhatsApp conversations between victims of the Hamas attacks and their friends, families, and communities on October 7. This collection is meant to serve as an archival repository of the events that took place on that tragic day.

The Mandel Foundation has awarded grants to the graduates above and many other graduates whose initiatives are making a significant impact on Israeli society in the aftermath of the war. The graduates, who also receive ongoing guidance from the Mandel Graduate Unit in support of their initiatives, continue to demonstrate unwavering commitment to Israeli society and to the welfare of its residents during these challenging times.​