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      Fourteen Citizens to Represent 62-Year-Old Israel

      The government has announced the names of the 14 people chosen to represent Israel in an official ceremony marking 62 years of independence.
      By Maayana Miskin
      First Publish: 3/21/2010, 11:09 PM / Last Update: 3/22/2010, 8:28 AM

      Flash 90

      The government has announced the names of the 14 people chosen to represent the state of Israel by lighting torches on the country's 62nd Independence Day. The choices were announced Sunday by Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov, who heads the Knesset Committee for Symbols and Ceremonies.

      Misezhnikov said each of the 14 was chosen for his or her contribution to the fulfillment of the Zionist vision, through building and developing the Jewish state. They will play a central role in the torch-lighting ceremony that marks the end of Memorial Day for Israel's fallen soldiers, and the beginning of Independence Day.

      The list is as follows:

      1. Yossi Feldman, 78. Feldman was active with the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI), and established the Ein Gedi Field School. In 1984, he founded the Society for Protection of Israel Heritage Sites, which acts to preserve heritage sites associated with the process of rebirth of the Jewish sovereign state, dating from the 18th century onward.

      2. Dalia Dorner, 76. Dorner is a former Supreme Court justice, and head of the Israeli Press Council.

      3. Sarah Braverman-Shpechner, 91. A native of Romania, she made Aliyah (immigrated) to Israel at age 19 and trained herself to work in agriculture and settlement. She joined the Palmach, and was one of the Jewish parachutists who worked in Europe to save Jews during the Holocaust.

      She was among the founders of Kibbutz Shamir in the Galilee.

      4.Ram Balinkov, 55. Balinkov, an economist, has held important positions in the government and in the private sector.

      5.Amnon Lavi, 66. Lavi was born in Tripoli, Libya, and went blind at a young age. He is principal of the Golani school for special needs children in Beit Shean, and has won awards for his pedigogical work.

      6.Tel-El Filou, 17. Filou will be lighting the torch with Lavi. She is the granddaughter of Jews who immigrated to Israel from Morocco, and is active as a leader in the Tzofei Ha'Eda youth movement.

      7.Yousef Matanes, 82. An Arab Christian resident of Haifa, Matanes is active in promoting coexistence between Jews and Arabs. In 1947 he hid a group of Jewish workers during an Arab pogrom, saving their lives.

      8.Professor Ariel Feldstein, 42. Professor Feldstein heads the Sapir College academic program, and is one of the nation's leading experts on the life and philosophy of Theodore Herzl. He volunteers on a public committee to commemorate Herzl, and worked to fulfill Herzl's wish to have his children buried in Israel.

      9.Asher Hirsch, 83. Hirsch immigrated from the United States 37 years ago. He serves as head of the Zionist General Council. Hirsch, a Reform rabbi, has been active in promoting Zionism in the Reform movement.

      10. Eyra Chaitin, 30. Chaitin immigrated to Israel from Latvia at age 13, and currently lives in Carmiel. She works with the Jewish National Fund in the field of forestry.

      11. Tzvi Levanon, 79. Levanon is a former IDF general. As a youth, he assisted Hagana members who fought in the War of Independence. He has fought in many battles.

      12. Avraham Greenzeid, 84. Greenzeid immigrated from the former Soviet Union in 1990. As a young soldier in the Red army, he fought the Nazis and won medals for bravery.

      13. Raya Strauss-Ben Dror, 70. She and her brother Michael headed the Strauss food company, one of Israel's largest. Since retiring, she has spent her time doing volunteer work and philanthropy, and is a supporter of the Nahariya Hospital, in organizations supporting young artists, and in promoting ties with communities outside Israel, among other things.

      14. Doctor Avraham Yitzchak, 37. Yitzchak, an IDF major, will represent the IDF. He immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia at age 18, learned medicine at Ben-Gurion University, and is close to completing his studies as a surgeon. He is widely admired among his colleagues as an excellent doctor and commander, and served in both the Second Lebanon War and Operation Cast Lead. He recently accompanied Israel's delegation to Haiti, where he saved many lives.