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Snapshots of Society: On-the-Ground Observations of Israel’s Coronavirus Experience


Jul 23, 2020 12:20 PM

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Jonathan Ferziger
Award-winning journalist
Jonathan Ferziger is an award-winning American journalist whose career has taken him to Israel, the Persian Gulf and Southeast Asia. Based in Jerusalem, Ferziger was chief political reporter for Bloomberg News on Israeli and Palestinian affairs. Earlier he worked for UPI, covering the 1991 Gulf War from Saudi Arabia, moving to Israel as Jerusalem Bureau Chief and serving as Asia Regional Editor in Hong Kong. Born in Brooklyn, Ferziger grew up in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, earned a BA in English at SUNY-Binghamton and a Master’s from the Columbia Journalism School. He studied at Harvard in 1996 on a Nieman Fellowship and won the 2017 Robert St. John Prize in Objective Middle East Reporting from Israel’s Ben Gurion University. Currently working on a book about Israel’s warming ties in the Gulf, Ferziger is married to Times of Israel opinion editor Miriam Herschlag. They have two grown children.
Rebecca Palmer
Branch Manager, Beit Shemesh @Yad Sarah
Rebecca Palmer made Aliyah from London with her parents at the age of 16. She earned a Master’s degree in Organic Chemistry from the prestigious Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, and has managed the Yad Sarah branch in Bet Shemesh since 2000. When she started, volunteers used handwritten cards to keep track of the clients and the equipment. Rebecca immediately computerized the branch and opened more shifts. Today the branch is open six days a week, run by almost 40 volunteers, including a tech team and therapists. Rebecca and her husband Danny have four children, ages 17-26. Their son, Gilad, who lives in Yerucham, small development town south of Beer Sheba, successfully lobbied the municipality to establish a branch there and now carries on a family tradition.
Michael Benson
Branch Manager, Beer Sheba @Yad Sarah
Michael Benson is a retired educator who currently serves as Volunteer Director at Yad Sarah’s Beer Sheba Center. Michael has a wealth of knowledge about Israel’s education system, having spent more than 44 years as a principal and teacher in Beer Sheba’s religious high school system. Over the course of his career, Michael served as principal at the city’s Comprehensive High School, and later at the Amit Ulpana School for Girls, where he led for more than 25 years. Since reaching his retirement, Michael has become an avid Yad Sarah volunteer, dedicating much of his spare time to the Yad Sarah Beer Sheba branch. A donor who lived in Beer Sheba briefly was so inspired by Michael's dedication that she made the Beer Sheba branch the beneficiary of her estate. Born in London, Michael studied philosophy and psychology at Nottingham University before making Aliyah in 1963. Michael and his wife, who live in Beer Sheba, have four sons and 12 grandchildren.