The Charles Bronfman Prize Names Yotam Polizer as 2023 Recipient
Yotam Polizer, CEO of IsraAID, an international non-governmental humanitarian aid agency based in Israel, has been named the 2023 recipient of The Charles Bronfman Prize, the Prize founders announced today. Since its inception in 2001, IsraAID has been responding to humanitarian crises in over 50 countries. Most recently, for example, Polizer led a complex evacuation mission of 205 human rights activists from Afghanistan in 2021, and since February 2022 he has been leading IsraAID’s biggest humanitarian response to date to the war in Ukraine.
The Charles Bronfman Prize is an annual award of $100,000 presented to a humanitarian under fifty whose innovative work, informed by Jewish values, has significantly improved the world. The Prize was founded by Ellen Bronfman Hauptman and Stephen Bronfman, together with their spouses, Andrew Hauptman and Claudine Blondin Bronfman, to honor their father on his 70th birthday.
“As we present The Prize for the 19th year, it is especially meaningful that Yotam’s work reflects so much of our dad’s values,” said Ellen Bronfman Hauptman on behalf of the founders. “I look forward to introducing him to all of the exceptional humanitarians who received The Prize before him.”
“I’m so honored and thrilled to join the incredible family of Charles Bronfman Prize winners,” Yotam Polizer declared. “Above all, this Prize is a testament of the lifesaving and life changing work of my IsraAID team members, who are dedicating their lives to support the world’s most vulnerable communities.”
Polizer’s work addresses a critical need. “Our mission is “to support people affected by humanitarian crises,” he notes. “We provide immediate disaster relief and long-term recovery programs to communities around the world following climate and manmade disasters. In the first phase we provide direct support: medical, psychological, access to clean water and education, and in the recovery phase we strengthen the capacity of local communities to support themselves and prepare for the next crisis.”
Founded in 2001 as a coalition of Israeli organizations working in disaster relief and international development, IsraAID has grown into an independent NGO and the largest humanitarian aid organization in Israel, reaching some 2 million people around the world annually with “lifesaving and life-changing assistance,” Polizer points out.
He joined the organization as a volunteer to lead its relief mission to Fukushima, Japan after the 2011 tsunami that killed almost 20,000 people. Following that successful relief mission, he became IsraAID’s second employee, took on various leadership roles, became co-CEO in 2017 and CEO in 2019. Since 2019, he expanded IsraAID’s reach and grew the organization from 25 to more than 220 employees and doubled its budget to $18.5 million.
“As CEO, he led us to become a stable and professional organization,” his nominator Meira Aboulafia, IsraAid’s chairperson and one of its founders, wrote. “I have witnessed Yotam fight daily to make this world a better place little by little, to provide people with the most basic dignity and respect during their darkest moments. Then to stay long after most others have left, to work hand in hand to create a better future… He transformed IsraAID from a modest initiative into an impressive enterprise.”
“The impact and scope of Yotam’s work is extraordinary,” Charles Bronfman stated. “His and IsraAID’s efforts have saved the lives of thousands around the world threatened by disaster and restored dignity to millions more. I congratulate the judges on their inspired selection.”
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