British friends of Merchavim

Merchavim educates Israelis of all backgrounds to build a more successful shared future by learning about their fellow citizens, appreciating the diversity that characterizes Israeli society and working together to make their classrooms, schools, organizations, and communities FAIRER – for the benefit of all.

BFM Core Values

BFM Upcoming events

TBD

TBD

To be announced
Merchavim-BFM-UJIA – Israel-UK Social Cohesion Webinar 24th May

(by invitation only)

TBD
BFM is grateful for the generous support of our donors in the UK:

Trustees

Brian Markeson

“I am passionate about Merchavim’s ongoing mission to strengthen the fabric of Israeli society.”

Brian is currently the Finance Director at the Board of Deputies of British Jews. Additionally, he is a Trustee at London Board for Shechita, March of the Living UK, Chair of his local Synagogue and associate governor at Sinai Jewish Primary School.

Mike Prashker

“I founded Merchavim as a passionate Jewish-Zionist Israeli, with the conviction that as national-homeland for the Jewish People Israel must continually strive to shape a fairer and more successful future for all its citizens.”

Mike founded MERCHAVIM in 1998 and directed the organization for 17 years before joining the Board of Directors in Israel and subsequently becoming a trustee of BFM. In 2014 Mike was appointed Senior Adviser for Strategic Partnerships at The Ted Arison Family Foundation where he leads social cohesion initiatives, including "The Social Cohesion Leadership Program", run in partnership with Merchavim. As part of a broader analysis, Mike’s 2017 book "A Place for Us All - Social Cohesion and the Future of Israel", www.aplaceforusall.org – which was published in a single volume in English, Hebrew and Arabic – provides a window into Merchavim’s history, activities and innovative change-strategy.

Rt. Hon. Joan Ryan

“I am honoured and delighted to be a Trustee of BFM. To be involved with an organisation that believes in fairness and inclusion, that trains teachers and inspires young people, is uplifting and so very worthwhile'.”

Having retired from Parliament, Joan now works as a training consultant specialising in democracy building, parliamentary strengthening and resilience coaching. She served as a Minister at the Home Office and as a special envoy for the Prime Minister. Elected five times as a Member of Parliament, serving almost 18 years in the House of Commons. She was appointed to the Privy Counsel in 2007. A former teacher she has a long standing commitment to education and young people.

Dr Noga Zivan

“I joined the Board of the British Friends of Merchavim because I believe that internal divisions represent at least as big a threat to Israel's future wellbeing as external threats.”

Noga is a Third Sector professional and educator, passionate about supporting donors and organizations to maximize the good work they do. Alongside Merchavim, she sits on the Board of Congregation Hod Ve'Hadar in Kfar Saba, is a member of the Yad BeYad Community and a volunteer with Mothers Make a Difference. She completed her Doctorate at the University of Oxford and currently teaches Resource Development at Bar Ilan University, as well as running her own consultancy firm, NZ-Consulting.

Stuart MacDonald

“Merchavim breaks down barriers to build a civil society without prejudice; for this, it commands my respect and demands my engagement.”

After contributing to charities like the Joint Israel Appeal, CARE and the Anti-Heroin Campaign, Stuart served as Vice Chair of ORT UK, Trustee of the London Musicians’ Collective and on the Actors’ Centre Advisory Board. Currently, he is a Trustee (and Treasurer) of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and Alternatives4Children and sits on the Advisory Boards of the Jewish Heritage Foundation, Israel Bonds and ROPES. Stuart runs an international corporate finance firm active across North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and the Middle East, including Israel. Stuart is also an award-winning broadcaster, with a long running radio show on London’s Resonance FM.

Michael Wegier

“I quickly learnt that while my own liberal Zionism was core to my personal identity, the future of Israel required finding shared spaces where all Israelis could develop a sense that the country fairly addressed their needs and dreams."

Michael Wegier has lived and worked in the UK, Israel and the United States in the fields of Jewish Education, and policy planning. He was the Executive Director of Melitz in Jerusalem and recently completed a 7-year term as Chief Executive of the United Jewish Israel Appeal (UK). Appointed in March 2021, Michael is currently Interim Chief Executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews. Michael studied at UCL and the Hebrew University and is a Mandel Jerusalem Fellow. He has followed Merchavim’s work since its inception and had chances to engage with its work through both Merchavim and UJIA.

Susan Coller – BFM Director of Development

“Through my work with Merchavim I have been privileged and heartened to meet Israelis of all backgrounds and see first-hand their determination to build a better shared future”.

Susan has worked for many ‘not for profit’ organizations both for UK based Jewish Charities and various British Friends of Israeli organizations developing and implementing Major Gift Campaigns to help increase their income and profile.  Since 2014, Susan has worked as BFM’s Director of Development. She serves as a Governor of Tel Aviv University and sits on its Standing Committee. Susan also assists as an advisor to several small charities in a voluntary capacity.

Acknowledgement of Leadership of Past Trustees:

Susan Coller

BFM Development Director

Make a Donation to British Friends of Merchavim (BFM)

Some Activity Highlights:

Hosting Senior Israeli Delegations building understanding and bi-lateral relations
Merchavim’s change strategy is one of cooperation with Israel’s government through partnership with a number of ministries and national agencies, including the Ministry of Education, The President’s Office, The Ministry of Social Equality, the National Insurance Institute and Israel Police.  Three senior study tours in partnership with UK Foreign and Commonwealth office have been key to Merchavim’s emergence as a leading agency trusted to strengthen the social fabric for the benefit of all Israelis and the State of Israel. Pictured here, a diverse delegation of senior Jewish and Arab, secular and orthodox Israeli Ministry of Education officials, who visited schools and met with senior civil servants, academics and civil society leaders across London. The lessons learned and relationships built have made a long-term contribution to the development of the field of shared citizenship education in Israel.
BFM Roadshows - Building Understanding and Cooperation between the UK and Israel at the Grassroots
BFM has hosted a series of speaking tours featuring panels of Israeli civil-society leaders representing the diversity of Israeli society. Engagements with audiences in synagogues, community-centers, Jewish schools, with the UK’s Israeli community and Parliament have deepened the understanding of these audiences regarding the complexity of the challenges facing Israeli society, building understanding and cooperation. Pictured above, Adv. Abbas Abbas, a leading advocate for Arab citizens with disabilities, Yael Kliger, a prominent voice among orthodox women and Dr. Simcha Getahune, lecturer and civil-society leader for at-risk-youth, together with Founder Mike Prashker after speaking to MPs during BFM’s first roadshow, back in 2014.
Seminars building understanding between next generation UK Jewish community leadership and Israelis of all backgrounds:

Ever since playing a key part in Merchavim’s establishment, the UJIA has played an important role in supporting the emergence of Merchavim as a leading agency working to strengthen the fabric of Israeli society and UK Jewish community-Israeli relations. This partnership continues to thrive ensuring that the UK community’s future leaders of all denominations also have an opportunity during Israel year programs to meet Israelis of all backgrounds, to better understand the complexities of Israeli society and the society-building challenges.

Remembering the Unique Contribution of Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks z"l
From its founding by British-born Israeli Mike Prashker, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks z”l was an intellectual and moral inspiration and strong advocate of our work. Rabbi Sacks is pictured here with Merchavim-Israel board member Reuven Shemaya and senior Ministry of Education Leader Daphna Lev at the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office where he was our distinguished key speaker. May his memory be a blessing.