News & Events

Remembering Bambi Sheleg (1958–2016)

The Mandel community mourns the loss of our friend and faculty member Bambi Sheleg.

Bambi made aliya with her family from Chile, and received a state religious education. She studied English literature and Jewish history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Jewish philosophy at the Shalom Hartman Institute. She was a journalist, a publicist, and an editor. She founded Eretz Acheret—an independent magazine that was launched in order to examine social, cultural, and economic processes in Israeli society and throughout the Jewish world, motivated by a broad sense of responsibility for the future of Israeli society.

Bambi was a well-known figure, and argued clearly and passionately for a Jewish and Israeli public discourse that would be both deep and broad, and would focus on questions of social justice and identity. Up to the end of her life, she wrote opinion pieces for Yediot Aharonoth, and gave lectures to various audiences interested in learning about Israeli society. Her last article, republished posthumously, was about the integration of the Haredi sector into society, and reflected her passion for creating a shared society with a narrative that allows all its members to play an equal and active role.

In recognition of her efforts to foster relations between Jews with different worldviews, Bambi was awarded the Liebhaber Prize for the Promotion of Religious Pluralism and Tolerance by the Masorti Movement in Israel in 1998; the B’nai B’rith World Center Award for Journalism Recognizing Excellence in Diaspora in 2011; and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s 2012 Simon Ethel Flegg Award, for promoting mutual understanding between disparate groups among the Jewish people.

At the Mandel School for Educational Leadership, Bambi taught classes on Israeli society, with a particular focus on the formation of disagreements and rifts between and among the various sectors, and their consequences. The fellows who studied with her often quote her “pizza” analogy for describing Israeli society, and cite her vision of greater interaction among the moderates from all camps, so that they, rather than the extremists, will set the tone of public discourse.

Bambi was 58 when she passed away. She is survived by her husband Yair, and by her children Yonatan, Ariel, and Tova. We will miss her greatly, and extend our deepest condolences to her family. May her memory be a blessing.