Porat, Dagan, and Fass Win 'Lion of Zion' Prize
The committee for the Moskowitz Prize for Zionism has announced the winners of its Fourth Annual Lion of Zion prize for active Zionism. The winners are former MK Rabbi Chanan Porat, former Mossad chief Maj.-Gen. (res.) Meir Dagan, and Nefesh B’Nefesh co-founder Rabbi Yehoshua Fass.
The Moskowitz Prize for Zionism was established by Dr. Irving and Cherna Moskowitz as an expression of support for people who put Zionism into action in today's Israeli society, acting for the benefit of the common good in order to ensure the strength and resilience of the national Jewish homeland.
Rabbi Chanan Porat has a long resume. A Torah scholar, Land of Israel pioneer, and former MK, he was an IDF paratrooper in the 1967 Six Day War, in which he participated in the liberation of Jerusalem, and in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. In the mid-70’s, he helped start the Gush Emunim movement to resettle Judea, Samaria and Gaza, and more recently started the Orot charity network.
During the 1948 War of Independence, when he was not even five years old, he was among the children of Gush Etzion who were evacuated from his kibbutz, Kfar Etzion, before it was subsequently destroyed by Arab attackers. Nineteen years later, he led the efforts to return to the area and reestablish the Jewish presence in Gush Etzion.
Rabbi Porat is also a prolific author and popular teacher, and has edited the weekly Me’at Min HaOr (A Bit of Light) weekly Torah sheet since he founded it several years ago.
Meir Dagan, who recently left his post as head of the Mossad, has contributed immensely in many capacities to the security of Israel. Born in 1945 to Holocaust survivors, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Dagan has a rich past of IDF service, serving first as a paratrooper, then rising through the ranks from Company to Division Commander, and then in various General Headquarters staff positions. He fought in Israel’s wars, was injured twice, and earned the Medal of Valor, the second highest honor in the IDF.
Dagan served as head of the counter-terrorist staff at the Prime Minister's Office for two years, and was then appointed as Director General of the Israel Secret Intelligence Service, a position he held for three successive terms, from 2002 until 2011. Dagan’s term as Mossad Chief was widely considered especially successful, and he left a legacy of creativity and action held in high esteem by Israeli and international leaders alike.
Rabbi Yehoshua Fass is co-founder of Nefesh B’Nefesh and has served as the organization’s Executive Director since 2002. After an Israeli relative of Rabbi Fass' was murdered in March 2001 in a terrorist bombing, he felt compelled to embark on a personal mission, which in the following years made a significant impact on the State of Israel and the Jewish people.
Together with Tony Gelbart, he founded Nefesh B'Nefesh, which revolutionized western Aliyah by removing the financial, professional and logistical obstacles that prevent many individuals from actualizing their dreams. The organization has revamped the Aliyah process, making the idea of moving to Israel a more realistic option for many. Since its establishment in 2002, the organization has assisted over 27,000 new immigrants to Israel from the West, and has maintained a retention rate of 97%.
Previous Lion of Zion prize winners have included Rabbis David Fendel of Sderot and Yoel Schwartz of Jerusalem, Land of Israel pioneers Moshe Moshkowitz, Noam Arnon, and Anita Tucker, and IDF veteran officers Ran Pecker-Ronen and Aharon Davidi.