Mayana Prowisor is hardly the person you would expect to see featured as the Keynote Speaker at an annual gala dinner; certainly not at One Israel Fund’s prestigious 19th Anniversary Gala Dinner at Three Sixty°. Yet she, along with her mother, Suri, addressed the large crowd who had come to show their support for the heroic residents of Israel’s most vulnerable communities.
The dinner was designed to pay tribute to a number of honorees including Hakarat Hatov Awardees Sharon & Alan Shulman of West Hempstead, NY; Keter Shem Tov Awardees Donna & Steve Gormley of Woodmere, NY; Shomer Yisrael Awardee, New York City resident Craig Dershowitz and Artists 4 Israel; and Young Leadership Co-Honorees, Alyssa & Bernie Alexander and Ester & Avi Bohorodzaner, both of Kew Gardens Hills, NY. However, it was Mayana who stole the show.
Mayana is a soft-spoken 18-year old girl from the Israeli town of Shilo, the ancient site where Yehoshua chose to settle the Mishkan (ancient Tabernacle) and the first capital city of Israel. Her father, Marc, is the former Rav Shatz, or Head of Security for the Shilo Bloc of communities and is currently the director of security projects for One Israel Fund.
Growing up, Mayana learned to be fearless in the face of an unrelenting enemy. This trait seems remarkably natural for her. Though she speaks in measured tones, her words are genuine “devarim hayotzim min halev,” words from the heart, which truly entered the hearts of her listeners who were mesmerized by her sincerity and her unabashed love for the land of Israel.
Mayana is not apologetic for her way of life nor is she deterred by the opposition from within and without. When the missiles started to fall on Israel this past November, she and her friends were evacuated from the Southern town of Alumim, where they were learning in the mechina (pre-army Torah academy) before entering the IDF later this summer. The town is situated mere kilometers from the Gaza border. In Southern Israel, where distance is often measured by the length of time it takes a Katyusha rocket to hit its target, Alumim is 15 seconds from Gaza.
Hardly the place for a nice Jewish girl.
But Mayana sees things differently. After one Shabbat at home, Mayana and her fellow students made the unanimous decision to return.
“It just felt wrong to leave when things got dangerous,” was her unassuming explanation—as if it is perfectly normal for a teenage girl to voluntarily put herself in harm’s way to help her fellow Jews. For Mayana and her friends to leave at that critical time was to tell the terrorists in Gaza that they are winning. And if the terrorists think they are winning because our own people show fear, then the entire country’s existence is at stake.
“They are all like me,” she modestly adds, “all my friends share the same passion and love for Israel.” Indeed, the residents of Shilo do share that passion, as do the other 360,000 residents throughout Judea and Samaria. Despite living under the most trying circumstances, they manage to overcome and persevere, building vibrant, flourishing communities on Israel’s most treasured ancient lands. And many do so with the fervent belief that they are protecting and securing the entire land of Israel.
“One Israel Fund is one of the only organizations that enable us to continue,” Mayana declares. “Without the money raised by One Israel Fund, so many communities would be lacking the most basic necessities.” One Israel Fund provides crucial security equipment and training, and vital emergency medical equipment and centers, educational scholarships. They also offer financial assistance for those in need as well as aid to build schools, synagogues, parks and libraries to allow communities to survive, prosper and grow.