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The Milton Shapiro JNF Scholarship Fund

The family of Milton S. Shapiro, past president of Jewish National Fund, has established a scholarship fund to honor the memory of a man who was deeply dedicated to the survival of the Jewish people and the continued well-being of the State of Israel.

The Milton Shapiro JNF Scholarship Fund will support Jewish education and Israel advocacy programs in the U.S. by awarding annual grants to high school and college students, as well as teachers, who will be chosen by members of the Shapiro family and JNF professional and lay leaders.

"In the pantheon of outstanding Zionist leaders, Milton Shapiro, a blessed memory, was a model, mentor, and mentch all Zionists should emulate," said Mel Salberg, former president of the American Zionist Movement. "Milton could never say no to a call for support of the Jewish people or the Jewish State."

The Scholarship Fund

The Scholarship Fund has awarded $35,000 in scholarship funds over the past three years to public school students participating in the Alexander Muss High School in Israel (AMHSI) program, an exceptional 8-week educational program for high school juniors and seniors, based at their Hod HaSharon campus in Israel. AMHSI is the only pluralistic, accredited academic program in Israel for English speaking North American High School students. AMHSI's unique teaching style and ability to bring Israel's history to life is the basis for all the education that is done through the Alexander Muss Institute. The Institute provides North American Jews with an interactive experience that blends cultural and academic elements with the lessons of history that continue to ignite their passion for Eretz Yisrael, our heritage and homeland.

Applications have been received from across the country, and we continue to be impressed by the caliber of the students and what they hope to gain from the program. Important to us was that these students would not have been able to attend the program without the scholarship. In addition, we felt it was important for the students to take on leadership roles while they were in Israel and we wanted them to be Israel advocates when they returned to their communities and schools. So while on campus, students plan an Israel advocacy training session, together with a trainer, for their peers.

Applicants are also responsible for writing articles for their local papers when they return from Israel and sharing their experiences with their synagogues and youth groups.

Comments from past scholarship winners upon their return to the United States:

  • Trevor, a returning junior  in high school in Florida, said “coming home and speaking with people about his experiences made him realize how much he knew and gained in Israel, in terms of knowledge, sense of self and expression in the community.”
  • Ari, now a sophomore at Clark University, said “I have been able to speak up about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in an informed manner, as well as write a college-level paper about the right of return. I’ve also talked 5 people into going on their first Israel trips.”
  • Sarah, now a sophomore at the University of Central Florida, organized a reunion for the students on the program in Orlando and had her article about her experience published in the local paper. Most recently she volunteered and raised money for Camp Jenny, a Reform movement camp for needy and inner city children and is looking forward to her next trip to Israel.
  • Molly, now a sophomore in college, became president of her youth group and planed an activity night for the group that focuses on Israel. She shared her experiences with the group and talked about the different cities in Israel and their importance.
  • Talia, an upcoming high school senior, is now considering a gap year program in Israel when she’s done with high school.
  • Leah, will be a freshman at Grinnell College, and since her trip has served as a board member for her local youth group and was active in her school’s Jewish Student Union and Israeli Culture Club. Her experiences in Israel were published on J-Teen.
  • Jonah, also an upcoming high school senior, is going to be president of his school’s Model United Nations group. Jonah felt that his AMIIE experience helped cultivate his belief “that the things that do the most good and the things that matter most are those related to social justice and changing the world. I have you and JNF to thank for giving me this opportunity to go to Israel and reaffirming this value.”

This coming year, the Milton Shapiro JNF Scholarship Fund will award two $5,000 scholarships to students participating in the Alexander Muss High School in Israel program for the December –January 2009/10 program.  Application deadline is October 5th. For more information on how to apply for the scholarship, click here.

Milton Shapiro's Biography

Shapiro served as president of Jewish National Fund from 1993 to 1997, during which time he spearheaded Operation Promised Land, JNF’s initiative to help resettle over one million Russian and Ethiopian immigrants in Israel. Before he became president of JNF, he was a member of the JNF administrative committee and the board of directors as well as the national treasurer.

“Engaging our young Jewish community to connect to Israel was not a hobby of Milton’s, but a passion,” said Russell F. Robinson, Chief Executive Officer of JNF. “Milton understood that the soil of the land of Israel was truly the soul of the Jewish people. I cannot think of a greater tribute than to have a scholarship fund that will touch the next generation and continue the strong link built by Milton Shapiro.

“His family’s vision of also including teachers as part of this program shows their close understanding and appreciation for Milton as a mentor and as a leader, because what better way to engage the masses than by bringing those who teach to Israel? We are proud to be partners with the Shapiro family in this great endeavor.”

Milton Shapiro was a devoted philanthropist and a volunteer leader of many Zionist organizations. He was chairman of the American Zionist Fund from 1982 to 1985, national president of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) from 1986 to 1989, and chairman of the administrative board of the ZOA from 1989 to 1992. He was actively involved in ZOA’s projects in Israel, including the Kfar Silver School, a 500-acre campus near Ashkelon that provides education and vocational training to new Jewish immigrants, and the ZOA Cultural House in Tel Aviv.

He was chairman of the board of Ma’aleh Adumim Foundation, vice president of B’nai Zion, treasurer of the American Friends of Likud, a member of the cabinet of the American Zionist Movement, and a member of the board of governors of the Jewish Agency.

"Milton was caring, kind, compassionate and a true philanthropist in every sense of the word," said Ivan Novick, former president of the ZOA. "He understood the issues facing the Jewish community and his beloved Israel and had the ability to interpret and convey these concerns to his constituents. Milton is missed not only by his family, but by all those who had the privilege to know him."

Jacques Torczyner, who also served as president of the ZOA, called Shapiro "an extraordinary man who could quietly help individuals in need. He was a proud American, a devoted Jew, a convinced Zionist and an untiring supporter of the State of Israel."

Shapiro was born on May 9, 1922 in Manhattan to Philip and Lena Shapiro. He was one of five children. He attended Abraham Lincoln High School and Brooklyn College, and spent three years in the military after college. He graduated cum laude from New York University School of Law and was a senior partner at Graubard Miller in Manhattan.

Shapiro was married to the former Beatrice Leibowitz, whose father, Morris Leibowitz, was extremely committed to the Zionist movement and was an active member of the ZOA Brooklyn Region. Shapiro’s relationship with his father-in-law during his early years significantly impacted his own dedication to Israel.

Milton Shapiro passed away in November of 2003 and his wife, Beatrice passed away in July 2009. They are survived by their children, Susan and Steven Levkoff and Philip and Janet Shapiro, four grandchildren, and two great grandchildren.

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