The B'nai B'rith World Center Chairman Dr. Haim V. Katz and Director Alan Schneider issued the following statement on the passing of Bambi Sheleg:
The B'nai B'rith World Center is grief stricken at the untimely and shocking passing on Aug. 15 of journalist, author and civic activist Bambi Sheleg. She was 58 years old. Among Sheleg’s many activities, Sheleg served, since 2012, on the jury of the B'nai B'rith World Center Award for Journalism Recognizing Excellence in Diaspora Reportage in the Israeli Media—a volunteer position she undertook with the utmost determination and earnestness.
Sheleg was the winner of the award in 2011 for a special issue of Eretz Acheret—a magazine she founded and edited—on Israel-Diaspora relations. In May, Sheleg actively deliberated together with the other jury members: Asher Weill, Yehudit Auerbach, Shalom Kital, Eytan Bentsur and Gabriela Shalev—to determine the winners of this year's award, Amanda Borschel-Dan (Times of Israel), Allison Kaplan Sommer (Haaretz) and Ya'akov Ahimeir (IBA).
But by July, due to the illness that she succumbed to, she was unable to participate in the award ceremony alongside keynote speaker Ron Dermer, ambassador of Israel to the United States.
Sheleg was a woman of deep intellect and caring who could not allow injustice and arbitrariness to stand unchallenged in any of her pursuits; particularly as editor at Eretz Acheret, an intellectual journal dedicated to exploring the ever-evolving Israeli society and its fissure lines. She was an ardent supporter and eloquent defender of Jewish peoplehood, and of the Jewish right to a state in its historic homeland. At the same time as she did not shirk at raising constructive criticisms of flaws she identified in Jewish and Israeli contemporary life.
Sheleg immigrated to Israel at the age of 12 from Chile. After serving in the Israel Defense Forces and completing her studies at Hebrew University, she was among the founders of the Atzmona settlement in Sinai in 1978. She began her journalist career at Nekuda, the now-defunct publication of the settler movement and also published columns in leading Israeli dailies Maariv, Hadashot and Yedioth Ahronoth. By her own admission, the 1995 assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin had a profound effect on her. She founded Eretz Acheret five years later to analyze the accelerated changes taking place within Israeli society and its fissures, epitomized in the murder of a sitting prime minister.
Sheleg leaves behind her devoted husband, senior journalist and commentator Yair Sheleg and their three children. May her memory be a blessing and a sign that individuals can have profound, healing effects even in our polarized societies.