Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Saluting Alice Shalvi

Few Israelis have done as much as Professor Alice Shalvi to combat injustice. A member of NIF's [New Israel Fund] International Council and former NIF Board Member, 80-year- old Professor Shalvi is still making headlines. Next week, on Israel Independence Day, she will receive the Israel Prize for her lifetime work.

In a candid interview with Etti Abramov of Yediot Ahronot, Israel's largest circulation daily newspaper, Prof. Shalvi revealed that she was the victim of sexual harassment by two academic figures at the Hebrew University in the 1970's and discussed her role in establishing veteran and major NIF grantee Israel Women's Network (IWN).

And for more:

The 2007 Israel Prize for Lifetime Achievement and Special Contribution to Society and the State of Israel will be awarded to Professor Alice Shalvi from the English department at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The award was announced on March 25 by Minister of Education Prof. Yuli Tamir.

Explaining their decision, the judges called Shalvi ''revolutionary and courageously trailblazing, with intellectual integrity and long-term vision.'' She will be awarded the prize during an Independence Day ceremony.

Shalvi was born in Germany in 1926 but fled to Britain shortly after the Nazi rise to power. There, she went on to earn her B.A. and M.A. degrees in English literature at Cambridge University. She then went on to study social studies at the London School of Economics. A year after immigrating to Israel in 1949, she received a position as a professor of English at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Shalvi served as principal of the Pelech School for Girls in Jerusalem, turning it into one of the first religious experimental schools and a model for other experimental and democratic schools throughout the country. She began her feminist activity in the 1970s, battling for the rights of women whose husbands refused to grant them a divorce. She also founded the first grassroots self-help neighborhood organization, ''Ohel Yosef'', in the 1970s to improve the quality of life in disadvantaged neighborhoods. This served as a model for future neighborhood organizations.

Shalvi was also among the founders of the Israel Women's Network, and chaired it from its founding in 1984 until 2007.

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