קרן הישג Foundation for Former Lone Soldiers עב
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HESEG House

Tzvi Ya’akov Levin was born in Lithuania in 1856 and later immigrated with his family to Chicago, Illinois. Levin and his family loved Israel passionately; his mother immigrated to Israel in 1907 in order to be buried on the Mount of Olives and Levin founded the first Hebrew school in Chicago. “Every Jew is a Zionist, he might just not know it,” is what Levin used to say, and he lived by his word. In 1923, at the age of 65, he immigrated to Palestine to focus the rest of his life on building the country. During that same year he purchased a property on the corner of Rothschild Boulevard and Shadal Street in Tel-Aviv.

Levin hired architect Yehuda Mgidovic to design his home so that in the future it could fit the rest of his family who would move to Tel-Aviv in 1924 as soon as the house was complete.

Before his death in 1935, Levin planted many agricultural crops in Rehovot and donated to several institutions in Tel-Aviv. In his will he wrote, “I will rest peacefully if my heirs insure that all that I have left behind will remain in the hands of Jews. If my heirs will choose to make this land their home it will make my life’s dream complete.” Following his death his daughter wrote to the rest of the family: “If Tzvi had not climbed the stairs in his home so often, maybe he would have lived longer.” And so the plan to build an elevator in the house was born and was completed many years later. When Moshe Dov Levin, Tzvi’s son, left the country and its dwindling agricultural business, the remaining family could no longer maintain the house and began their journey back to the United States. Since then, however, most of Levin’s descendents have returned to settle in Israel.

The Foundation’s Founders

Gerald (Gerry) Schwartz is a Jewish Canadian businessman. He is the founder and CEO of Onex Corporation. Onex is one of Canada's ten largest companies with global industrial operations. He is also one of the most outstanding supporters of the Canadian Jewish community. Heather Reisman is the founder and CEO of Indigo Books & Music Inc., Canada’s largest book retailer. The couple’s generous contribution is rooted in their deep commitment to Israel and the Jewish community worldwide.
“Our scholars who sacrifice so much for the State of Israel embody the spirit of giving. They are the pioneers of the new millennium. We, at HESEG, salute them and extend a helping hand to obtain an academic education. We want to support their desire to continue to strive for excellence and to lead the State of Israel to new achievements in the future. This is the least that we can do in order to help them continue to contribute to the community”. (Heather Reisman)

Aviv Bushinsky - the donors’ representative in Israel

“The lone soldiers who have left behind all that is dear to them and came to Israel in order to contribute are the next generation of the State of Israel. We at HESEG assist them and give them a shoulder to lean on out of a desire to provide them with a family – the HESEG family. It is important for them to know that we are here for them. People who have invested so much effort and succeeded, despite all the hardships, in making a significant contribution as soldiers will succeed in civilian life as well. We will do everything we can so that these aspirations and abilities can indeed reach their full potential.”

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"Happy New Year!" A postcard senf from the Levin Family at Rosh Hashana, March 1932
Levin house, 1934
Once the Levin family left Israel in 1940 the building on 46 Rothschild Boulevard was rented for 38 Israeli pounds a month to the British Institute for English teaching, which was a school that taught the children of Tel-Aviv English language skills. In 1943 the house was sold to Moshe Brayer, an orthodox Jewish businessman from the United States; Brayer lived on the second floor of the building and the ground floor was turned into a bank.

During the British Mandate, the Haganah asked Brayer to use the house as its headquarters; it was from there that the Haganah soldiers launched operation Chametz in Jaffa. The building was returned to its rightful owner in August 1948; Brayer had hoped to demolish the existing house and replace it with a six-story high-rise. However, due to intense pressure from Moshe Sharett (Israel’s foreign minister at the time), the house was rented to the mission instead. Initially the agreement was for a short rental period of four months, but it ended up lasting five years. During this time the building was under heavy security and open to the public only once a year on the anniversary of the Russian Revolution. “The Russians ruined my building and my garden,” Brayer was quoted saying, “but we didn’t want to cause any trouble with them, and they kept saying they would be leaving very soon.”

On February 9th, 1953, three activists from the Lechi underground movement jumped over the fence and managed to reach the kitchen on the northern wall of the house without being detected. They planted an explosive device that caused severe damage to the property and hurt several staff, as well as the wife of the Deputy Ambassador, Claudia Yershova. Russia used this event as an excuse to end its diplomatic ties with Israel, claiming that the operation was condoned by the state.

In the late 1980s Moshe Brayers’ two sons sold the house on 46 Rothschild Boulevard to the businessman Alfred Akirov. After years of neglect the house was finally given a facelift when Akirov received a permit to build a skyscraper behind the house in exchange for agreeing to renovate it. In 1991 the house was declared a historic preservation site and was reconstructed by Avraham Yaski and Yosef Sivan’s architecture firm in cooperation with the offices of Amnon Bar-Or and Motti Bodek.

One of the house’s unique features is the pagoda. When the house was reconstructed, the workers were surprised to discover that the pagoda’s ceiling opens with a special mechanism to create a space at the top of the staircase. The mechanism may have been put in place to allow for moving larger pieces of furniture in and out of the house with greater ease. Another possible reason for this unique feature may have been that the Levin family used this area to build their sukkah every year. The Levin family also had two kitchens built in the house, one for Passover and one for the rest of the year.

From the 1990s until 2006 Sotheby’s art auctioneers rented the house for their offices and showrooms in Israel. In November 2006 the house was purchased by Canadians Gerald Schwartz and Heather Reisman; the couple donated the house to Keren HESEG, which is the philanthropic foundation they founded in Israel to award special academic scholarships to qualified candidates. HESEG means achievement in Hebrew.

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Advisory board

HESEG in the News

Amir Mizrahi, HESEG Scholar, won the IDC Literary Challenges Cup 2016

HESEG on the Roof - Purim party at HESEG House

Ma'ariv, 27.3.2016

HESEG Induction Ceremony 2015

10TV, 18.6.2015

HESEG Induction Ceremony 2015

Ma'ariv, 21.6.2015

HESEG Induction Ceremony 2015

Nana 10, 19.6.2015

Arthur Shani - The poor boy became a successful attorney

Ynet, 15.4.2015

An Item about the HESEG Library

Israel This Week, 6 June 2014

"Mivtza Yonatan"

Yedioth Aharonot, 7.3.20144

Valentina & Jonathan - Love Story

Xnet, 23.6.2013

HESEG Foundation Deligation to Canada

Shalom Toronto, 28.2.2013

The Story of Niko Bauch, HESEG Scholar

Channel 2 News, 19.4.2012

Niko Bauch, HESEG Scholar, at the HESEG Deligation to the March of the Living

Israel Today, 17.4.2012

"Caf Tet of November" Ceremony, Independence Hall, Rothschild Blvd, Tel Avivב

29.11.2011

"HESEG at Rothschild Blvd" - Alumni Conference at HESEG

Globes, 1-2.8.2011

Houses From Within

Walla, 19.5.2011

Sweet HESEG

Purim Party at HESEG House

Globes, 21-22.3.2011

The HESEG of Shkedi

HESEG Annual Induction Ceremony

Globes, 10-11.10.2010

White Night in Tel-Aviv

Ha'Aretz Online, 2.7.2010

The Canadian Jewish News

כתבה מתאריך 15.12.2005

Bushinsky with the Warriors

Globes, 15.1.2009

1200 Scholarships for Lone Soldiers

Ma'ariv, 26.10.2005

2000 Football Game Tickets for Former Lone Soldiers

Yedioth Aharonot, 18.8.2005

2000 Football Game Tickets for Former Lone Soldiers

Ynet, 17.8.2005

2000 Football Game Tickets for Former Lone Soldiers

NRG, 17.8.2005

Football Game Tickets for Former Lone Soldiers

Yedioth Aharonot, 10.7.2005

Football Game Tickets for Former Lone Soldiers

Jerusalem Post, 17.8.2005

HESEG Foundation Launching

Ma'ariv, 9.5.2005
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