A researcher, a scholar, and a writer, founder and president of Beit Morasha, Prof. Benjamin (Benny) Ish-Shalom is among the world’s prominent leaders of modern Judaism. He is a senior lecturer in a variety of fields, including Jewish thought and religious philosophy; military ethics and applied ethics; values and leadership in the prism of Jewish culture and global thought; the Jewish mission – Tikkun, Israeli society and Jewish peoplehood, Jewish identity, and conversion.
Prof. Ish-Shalom received the AVI CHAI Prize for his leadership in promoting Jewish tolerance and unity and “for his extensive and diverse efforts to develop a shared cultural foundation for fruitful dialogue among the different segments of Israeli Jewry.” He was also awarded The Hebrew University’s Warburg Prize and a fellowship grant by the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture.
At the request of former Chief of General Staff, Lt. Gen. Moshe Ya’alon, Prof. Ish-Shalom developed the Identity and Purpose Program which, to date, has trained hundreds of thousands of the IDF’s officers and commanders in contending with issues of Jewish identity and values and the dilemmas of combat ethics. Together with Lt. Gen. Ya’alon and Chief Education Officer, Brigadier General Elazar Stern, he established the IDF’s Nativ program for immigrant soldiers.
The Cabinet of the Israeli government appointed Prof. Ish Shalom as the founding Chairman of “NATIV – the National Center for Identity and Conversion.” At the invitation of former Minister of Education Gideon Sa’ar, Prof. Ish Shalom also served as founding chairman of the Ministry committee for the new curriculum “Heritage and Culture in Israel,” and has led the program’s development and implementation in the education system and in teacher training colleges.
Prof. Ish-Shalom was a faculty member of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a long-standing lecturer in its Department of Jewish Thought. He served as the incumbent of the Andrew and Rose Miller Professorial Chair for Zionist Thought and Modern Israel at Yeshiva University in New York and has lectured at Bar-Ilan University, the Technion, and additional academic institutions.
Shai Hershkowitz is a senior facilitator, a program developer and director, a coach and a lecturer, and one of the pioneers of Outdoor Education in Israel. He is an expert with 20 years of experience in team development and in the implementation of “values climate,” “transitional leadership,” and “value-driven leadership” among senior executives and commanders in the military, business, and social sectors. Throughout his career, he has initiated and led groundbreaking social programs, including the Challenge Foundation (Amutat Etgarim), Beit Morasha, the Simanei Derech (“Road Signs”) program, the Resilience Center at the Gvanim Association for Education and Community Involvement in Sderot, working in the youth field in Kiryat Malachi, and more.
Shai was a co-founder and leader of various educational initiatives, and of the Even Derech (“Milestone”) company, which incorporates challenging outdoor activities in management and team training and nurturing. He also initiated and directed a training program at the Oranim College of Education for group facilitators based on outdoor experiential workshops.
Shai holds a bachelor’s degree in social science from Haifa University, an engineering degree in industrial design from Hadassah College Jerusalem, and is a graduate of the group-facilitator training program at the Zippori Institute and the JDC’s “Absorption Fellows” program.
Shai is an amateur musician for over 30 years playing the guitar and additional musical instruments. He served in the IDF’s Nahal Brigade combat unit and as a paramedics’ course instructor, and performs his military reserve duties in the Alpinist Unit.
Paul Wimpfheimer was born in New York, where he served as a congressional aide to New York Representative Edward I. Koch, later mayor of New York City. He made aliya in 1975, working at Shaare Zedek Medical Center. He served as administrative director of the medical center through 1992. In 1994, he was appointed Business Development Director for Guri Import and Distribution Ltd., one of Israel’s leading importers and distributors of internationally branded consumer goods. Paul returned to the public sector in 2002, joining Beit Morasha, where he served as CEO until 2008, following which he served as Vice President for Development and External Affairs.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics from New York University, a master’s degree in health systems management from Harvard University, and an MSc in urban planning from Columbia University.
Yiftach Shidlovy is a senior program facilitator, program developer, coach, and lecturer. In his role as program director of Beit Morasha’s Department for Identity and Values Programs, he develops workshops, seminars, and educational treks, and oversees facilitator recruitment, screening and training.
Yiftach has rich experience in group facilitation for numerous organizations, including his work at the non-profit organization “Nesiya”, in the field of informal Jewish education for Israeli and Diaspora Jews, and at “Einav”, for the empowerment and rehabilitation of at-risk girls. He has also served as a group facilitator and an employment coach at the JDC’s STRIVE program in Jerusalem.
He holds a BAs degree in the Humanities and Theater from The Hebrew University, a teaching certificate in Theater from the Kerem Institute in Jerusalem, and was accredited as a group facilitator by the Zippori program. He studied classical oriental music at the Center for Oriental Music, specializing in Turkish qanun.
During his military service, Yiftach served as a combat solider and commander in the IDF’s Egoz Battalion.