Four inspirational women will receive Champions of Zion awards on Tuesday, March 12, at the UJA Federation of New York’s annual UJA Women Heart Matters luncheon in New York City. This year’s Heart Matters gala will celebrate the theme “This Is What a Zionist Looks Like,” and will showcase the many ways women can express their Zionism. From diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds as well as differing political and philosophical positions, the commonality of the honorees is their love for the people and land of Israel.
With great pride, Champions of Zion awards will be presented to Miriam Fuld, the widow of Ari Fuld, HY”D; MK Rachel Azaria of the Israeli Knesset; Rachel Sharansky Danziger, journalist and storyteller; and Chloe Simone Valdary, writer and activist.
A panel discussion, led by Dr. Larry Gould, will include the four honorees discussing Zionism, its impact, the various connotations ascribed to the term and what Zionism means for the future of Israel and the world at large. Dr. Gould is the founder and executive chairman of thebigword Group, one of the world’s leading language, technology and human resourcing businesses.
Miriam Fuld, the recipient of the Lion of Zion Award, is an artist and the widow of Ari Fuld, renowned victim of terror in Israel who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Valor, Israel’s highest award for extreme bravery.
A special video tribute will include an inside look at Ari Fuld’s life and enduring legacy and will include appearances from Ari’s parents, Rabbi Yonah and Mary Fuld, Rabbi Binyamin Krauss, the principal of SAR Academy and a childhood friend of Ari, as well as Senator Joe Lieberman.
The Defender of Zion Award will be presented to Rachel Azaria, distinguished member of Knesset and former deputy mayor of Jerusalem.
Rachel Sharansky Danziger will receive the Champion of Zion Award. Daughter of world-famous prisoner and former Jewish Agency chair, Natan Sharansky, Danziger is a thought leader, writer and educator. Rabbi Avi Weiss, longtime spiritual head of Hebrew Institute of Riverdale—the Bayit—and founder of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah in Riverdale will bestow the award. Rabbi Weiss, a close friend of Natan Sharansky, is well-known for his activism on behalf of Soviet Jewry.
The Freedom of Zion Award will be bestowed on Chloe Simone Valdary, acclaimed author, educator, and founder of Theory of Enchantment LLC.
Both Eva Galpern and Ariel Stern are the esteemed recipients of the Heart Matters Award. This powerhouse team of mother and daughter are business leaders, Zionists and philanthropists. Their generous contributions to UJA are a family tradition. Galpern announced that all gifts made in honor of the honorees of the Heart Matters luncheon will be matched up to $100,000.
In attendance at the luncheon will be Senator Joe Lieberman and Honorary Event Chair Hadassah Lieberman, both longtime lay leaders of UJA and staunch supporters of Israel. They will be joined by Israeli Ambassador Dani Dayan and other distinguished leaders of the Jewish community.
This year’s Heart Matters project focuses on the life-changing work of the Israel Trauma Coalition (ITC), which provides trauma treatment for Israeli soldiers, civilians and entire communities affected by terror and warfare in Israel, as well as in communities experiencing tragedy around the world. Because of its extensive experience treating individuals and communities affected by trauma, the ITC is frequently called on by countries in times of crisis and disaster—from the United States, Japan and Nepal to France, Jordan and the Ukraine. By providing programs that foster resilience, rehabilitation and emotional and psychological health, the ITC is truly a light unto the nations. Recently, the ITC sent a team to Pittsburgh to provide trauma treatment and assistance to the community following the devastating attack on the Tree of Life congregation.
This event marks the first time that Miriam Fuld will speak publicly about her beloved husband, Ari. Whether through his own army service, supporting others in the military, or advocacy in the media, Ari was a faithful supporter of the land and the people of Israel. He left an indelible legacy on the world by rushing to protect an Israeli citizen after he himself was stabbed—an injury that would prove fatal. In both life and death, Ari was dedicated to protecting Israel from terror.
UJA Women Interboro Board Chair Seryl Ritter explained why this event is particularly meaningful to her. “Our UJA Women Heart Matters event is always inspiring. But this year is more meaningful than ever, because we are privileged to honor four extraordinary female Champions of Zion. All are paragons of personal and Zionist achievement, and each brings a unique background, viewpoint and lens on what it means to be a Zionist today and how they hope to contribute to a resilient and ascendent Zionist future. I am equally proud that we will dedicate all funds raised in honor of our four champions and our two Heart Matters honorees to the life-changing, life-saving work of the Israel Trauma Coalition. As a loud and proud Zionist myself, I encourage everyone to join in this holy work, attend the event and give generously.”
By Yvette Finkelstein