Lily Safra’s Legacy

Lily Safra’s profound philanthropic legacy continues through Technion ISEF scholars: with the unfortunate recent passing of renowned philanthropist Madame Lily Safra, wife of Edmond Safra z”l and the former chair of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation, the Technion honors the long-standing partnership with one of her most beloved, well established educational causes, the ISEF Foundation

This year, one of Israel’s most prestigious and poignant educational programs, the Israel Scholarship Education Foundation (ISEF) mark 45 years since its establishment, unfortunately coinciding with the passing of Lily Safra, one of its key founders and the former Honorary Chair of the Edmond J. Safra Philanthropic Foundation.

The ISEF Foundation was founded in 1977 by Edmond J. Safra z”l and his wife Lily Safra, together with Nina Weiner, cofounder and Chairwoman Emerita of the philanthropic organization. Madame Safra, a renowned philanthropist for educational, cultural, and social causes in Israel and aboard, unfortunately passed away recently.

 Lily Safra Z”L. [Photo by Erez Lichtfeld].

Lily Safra received an honorary doctorate degree from the Technion in 2018 for significant charitable donations to important causes, and specifically for her support of the ISEF program that has helped hundreds of students from the Technion, as well as for her generous donations to support the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering. In 2019, Weiner also received a Technion honorary doctorate degree.

Opening the doors to academic excellence for tomorrow’s scientific leaders

ISEF was established with the goal of narrowing Israel’s socioeconomic gaps by transforming Israel’s disadvantaged communities through access to higher education opportunities for underserved children. ISEF achieves this by awarding university scholarships to promising young students from a wide range of cultural and ethnic groups who share the Foundation’s values and meet the criteria for support – financial need, scholastic excellence, and leadership potential. ISEF supports students throughout their academic journey – from their B.A. through their master’s and Ph.D., and even for their postdoctoral studies.

In addition to access to academic opportunities, ISEF provides students with wraparound support and access to personal development programs that help ensure the program’s impressive graduation rate of over 95%. The program has produced 35 professors and 70 Ph.D. lecturers at Israel’s top universities, including the Technion.

Technion students shine with ISEF’s support

ISEF currently supports several Technion Ph.D. candidates taking part in breakthrough research groups:

Mor Elgarisi

Mor Elgarisi from Karmiel, a small town in Northern Israel, earned his B.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering from a local college in his hometown, achieving summa cum laude. Mor took part in the Technion’s graduate program in Mechanical Engineering in Prof. Moran Bercovici’s Microfluidic Technologies Laboratory, entering the direct track to a Ph.D.

Israel Gabay

Israel Gabay grew up in Qiryat Shemona. He began his studies in the Technion’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering and, thanks to academic excellence, later transferred to the Mechanical Engineering Faculty, where he earned his bachelor’s degree, summa cum laude. During his bachelor’s degree, Israel was recognized on the Technion President’s List for Academic Achievements five times, as well as by the Dean’s List for Academic Excellence and currently he is on a direct path to a Ph.D.

Both Mor and Israel were proud to have a key role in the Fluidic Shaping experiment recently tested by Israeli astronaut Eytan Stibbe in space. Stibbe, who took part in the Rakia mission that was a collaboration between Axiom Space, NASA Ames Research Center, the Israeli Ministry of Innovation, Science, and Technology, and the Ramon Foundation, successfully tested the ability to manufacture optical elements in space for the first time, creating a solid lens from liquid.

Hila Tarazi-Riess is another remarkable Ph.D. candidate in the Faculty of Biotechnology and Food Engineering. Hila is from Giv’at Ze’ev and her research focuses on evaluating the impact of physiologically digested carrageenan (a common food additive) on human gut microbiome. In 2018, Hila won first prize for ‘Innovative Product Development,’ led by the EIT Food Consortium in Europe.

Hila Tarazi-Riess

ISEF as a supporting pillar of the Technion’s academic excellence

Several members of Technion faculty are proud ISEF alumni:

Dr. Yaniv Romano is an Assistant Professor at the Departments of Computer Science and of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Technion. Yaniv earned his B.Sc., M.Sc., and Ph.D. from the Andrew and Erna Viterbi Faculty of Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. He received support from ISEF to conduct postdoctoral research in statistics at Stanford University.

ד"ר יניב רומנו

Dr. Yaniv Romano

Today, Dr. Romano works to advance theories and practices of modern machine learning systems, focusing on uncertainty quantification, explainability, and robustness.

Dr. Shenhav Cohen

Dr. Shenhav Cohen is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Biology and head of a lab deciphering the molecular mechanisms that regulate muscle size. Shenhav earned her B.Sc. in Life Science and Ph.D. in Molecular Cell Biology and Cancer at Bar Ilan University before taking part in an ISEF International Fellowship at Harvard Medical School in 2006-2011. In 2013, Dr. Cohen joined the Technion’s Faculty of Biology, enabling her to complete her research on muscular atrophy, which has been published in prestigious medical and scientific journals.


Dr. Eitan Yaakobi is an Associate Professor at the Henry and Marilyn Taub Faculty of Computer Science, was an ISEF International Postdoc Fellow in Electrical and

פרופ' איתן יעקבי

Dr. Eitan Yaakobi

Computer Engineering at the California Institute of Technology, and a Ph.D. fellow at the University of California San Diego. Raised in Qiryat Shemona, Eitan became an ISEF scholar in 2002, earning his B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Mathematics and Computer Science at the Technion. As an ISEF fellow at UC-San Diego, Eitan conducted his Ph.D. research in “error correcting coding for flash drives,” earning him the 2009 Marconi Society’s Young Scholar Award, akin to the Nobel Prize in his field of study. He was awarded the Intel Ph.D. Fellowship Award in 2011 for his research in data storage. Dr. Yaakobi is the current head of the Technion’s Excellence Program.