Marcia Kelner Polisuk
Director, Hillel, Latin America
A lifelong Jewish activist and committed Zionist, Marcia Kelner Polisuk has lived in Israel for the past four years with her husband Luis, daughter Julia (20) and son Rafael (13). At the age of 40, Marcia moved her family from Brazil to Israel to better understand Israel and communicate its character to the Diaspora. She serves as the director of Hillel Latin America and is a proud and active Israeli Lion of Judah. Through her work with the Lions of Judah in Israel, Marcia can see first-hand the power of Israeli women to make a difference in Israel.
Marcia grew up in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where her parents imbued her a sense of love and responsibility for the Jewish tradition, community and Israel. A psychologist by training, she has turned her volunteer life into her professional life. Marcia was an active volunteer with the Bar Ilan School in Rio de Janeiro, B'nai B'rith and the Women's International Zionist Organization. Beginning as a lay leader--one of the founders of Hillel in Rio de Janeiro nine years ago--she quickly transitioned into her current professional role.
Marcia brought the Taglit-Birthright Israel program to Rio de Janeiro; to date it has brought 1,500 of the 3,000 young Jewish adults from Rio de Janeiro to Israel. Her program is recognized worldwide for its innovative pre- and post-Birthright trip structure, which insures that alumni have a strong educational and communal infrastructure to come back to. She also created the Yad Vashem-recognized Yad B’Yad program, which brings Jewish students to Poland and Israel after an intensive four-month study course in human rights and Holocaust remembrance. Recently, the alumni of Yad B’Yad held the largest anti-Ahmadinejad protest in all of Latin America as a response to their education on human rights and the Holocaust.