Russian-born actor Vladimir Friedman and Ukrainian-born inventor Kira Radinsky, a young pioneer in the field of predictive data mining, were honored on Thursday for their contributions to Israeli society as immigrants in the country.
Two doctors born in France and Ethiopia and an Argentinian-born taekwondo practitioner who is a world leader in making sport available to children with special needs also received an annual award for immigrants who made an impact on the state since arriving in Israel from abroad. .
The awards were presented at a ceremony at the President’s Residence on Thursday attended by President Isaac Herzog and Minister of Immigration and Absorption Pnina Tamano-Shata.
“Israel would not be what it is today without immigration, neither in number nor in quality,” Herzog said at the ceremony.
Friedman has been a mainstay of the Israeli theater scene since arriving here in 1991. He has also starred in several award-winning films, including 2017’s “Golden Voice,” about a Russian couple who moved to Israel as part of the influx from the former Soviet Union in the early 1990s.
Radinsky was honored for her work leading Diagnostic Robotics, which uses big data and artificial intelligence to improve healthcare. The Kyiv native, who moved to Israel in 1990 aged 4 and earned a Technion doctorate at 26, has won accolades around the world for her pioneering research using algorithms to predict outcomes, being named to MIT’s 35 Young Innovators Under 35 in 2013 and Forbes 30 under 30 in 2015.
Dr. Irene-Rina Fremont, a leader in the field of drug safety, is another recipient working to improve healthcare. Fremont left France for Israel in 2013, creating an Israeli chapter of the International Society for Pharmacovigilance. She is also a co-founder of Eranim, the Israeli Society for Medicines and Vaccine Safety.
Dr. Sefefe Aitchek, who moved to Israel from Ethiopia in 1987, has been recognized for his preventive health work in the Amharic-speaking community. Among other activities, Aitchek helped found Tene Briut, which pioneered health care awareness for Ethiopian immigrants and their families.
Taekwondo Leonardo Oros Duek, who moved to Israel from Argentina in 2002, received the award in recognition of his work in advancing the sport in Israel and helping propel Israeli taekwondo onto the international stage. He is the author of a book on the accessibility of taekwondo to people with special needs and is president of the Pan-European Taekwon-do Federation and the Israel Taekwon-do Association.
The awards were handed out days after Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu struck a deal that will hand MK Avi Maoz of the far-right homophobic Noam party control of Nativ, a government program responsible for facilitating immigration since the former Soviet Union. .
Maoz has spoken out strongly against the Law of Return, which offers automatic citizenship to anyone with at least one Jewish grandparent, provided they do not practice another religion, and some fear he is using Nativ position to make the process of proof of eligibility. for citizenship much heavier than it already is, imposing a higher barrier to entry that would prevent some applicants from entering where there is ambiguity or uncertainty.
The new government put in place by Netanyahu is set to replace Tamano-Shata with an immigration minister from the Maoz-allied religious Zionism party, according to a deal announced late Thursday. Reports have said that the position will go to MK Ofer Sofer.
In his comments on the ceremony, Tamano-Shata paid homage to the variegated societal rainbow created by immigrants.
“The winners … have made Israel something much more beautiful and varied, and for that we recognize you and all new and old immigrants,” she said.
The award is separate from the $10,000 Bonei Zion Prize awarded annually by Nefesh B’Nefesh to immigrants from English-speaking countries who have had a major impact on Israel.
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