KEITH BERMAN ז"ל
Keith Berman z"l was a key figure in the world of Jewish Zionist Education dedicating his career to bringing young adults to Israel for meaningful long-term experiences and encouraging aliya. He tragically passed away in November 2014, leaving behind him a legacy of passion and commitment to Israel.
Born and raised in the United States, Keith made aliya to Israel in 1988 and served in the Nachal Infantry Unit of the Israeli army. He earned his B.A. from the University of Miami in psychology and Judaic Studies and studied towards his master’s degree in psychology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In 2010, Keith co-founded a gap-year and study abroad program, called Aardvark Israel, which offers participants, ages 17-21, the opportunity to study, volunteer, and explore Israel through 5 and 9 month programs located in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. He served as the program's director until his death and during his tenure he was responsible for bringing over 400 participants to Israel. Prior to establishing Aardvark, Keith served for 11 years as the Director of the Young Judaea/FZY Year Course Program in Israel. Through his leadership, vision, and creativity, each program he directed experienced tremendous growth, both in enrollment and diversity of program offerings. Keith’s accomplishments also included founding and serving as the first Director of the Merkaz Hamagshimim (a popular Jerusalem center for English speaking young adults.) He was a participant in Year Course in 1984-85 and was a graduate of the WUJS Arad program. Keith was also a dedicated father to three children, Eden, Liav, and Hadas.
Inspired by Keith's passion for Israel, the Keith Berman AACI Israel Scholarship Fund was established to assist more young people in participating in the Aardvark Israel Program and other quality long-term programs in Israel. In his own words, Keith described the experience of coming on a gap year program in Israel as "that precious moment of time between the comfort of [their] parents’ home and being thrust into a larger world allows young adults to truly begin the amazing journey of self-discovery. Add to the mix the process of defining one’s Jewish and Zionist identity and you get a powerful combination of forces." The Keith Berman AACI Israel Scholarship Fund enables more young adults to carry on his legacy of commitment to Israel, the Jewish People, and young adult education.