Galina Leytes and her husband Lev are Wexner Heritage alumni from the Bay Area. Galina is on the Board of the San Francisco Jewish Community Federation and Lev is on the boards of private and public foundations. They also provide management consulting to companies. They can be reached at

“This is a most creative and original approach to solve one of the key pressing issues of our times and of Israel.” Akiva Tor, Israel’s Consul General, Pacific Northwest Region and Wexner Israel Fellowship Alumnus

My husband and partner, Lev and I are both engineers and technology entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. We came to the US from the USSR more than 25 years ago with $270, four suitcases, and a baby. We had an opportunity to work for both large and emerging technology companies and ultimately started our own company which we ran for 12 years. It was ranked #41 of INC.500 magazine’s list of fastest growing US companies, developing, manufacturing and selling its high-tech medical and drug discovery products worldwide.

Everyone agrees that alternative, clean and renewable energy sources have the potential to address many of the environmental, economic and geo-political problems of the world. Enabling Israel to become one of the world’s centers for the new energy technologies is cost-efficient, time-efficient, and politically strategic. Israel, North America, and the entire free world will benefit.

Lev and I have recently launched an exciting new entrepreneurial non-profit venture with that objective: the Israel Strategic Alternative Energy Foundation (I-SAEF), a supporting foundation at the San Francisco Jewish Community Endowment Fund.

After looking at the strategic role that alternative energy must play in the world, and the gap in the funding for early research in Israel, we have established I-SAEF to provide funding for alternative energy research at leading Israeli universities based on objective, expert review of grant applications. Israeli universities offer tremendous cost, expertise, and motivational advantages in alternative energy research over comparable world-class universities. The strong supply of scientific skills in Israel, combined with under-funding for early research, creates a unique opportunity to support high value-added projects at relatively low cost. All of Israel’s leading research universities have already indicated their support for this initiative and their willingness to engage actively with I-SAEF.

I-SAEF is a public charity with the following specific objectives:

            Raising $100 million to promote early stage alternative energy research in Israel. Donors may make contributions over five or more years.

            The goal is to provide funding for multiple early stage research projects that can make large impact on the world’s energy landscape.

Internationally recognized expert scientists and venture capitalists have agreed to advise the I- SAEF Board in selecting the projects that have the highest scientific and commercial potential. Some of the pre-eminent leaders of the Jewish community and supporters of Israel already have joined us in establishing I-SAEF. We have had pre-launch major donors meetings led and organized by

            In New York - Jeff Solomon (President, The Charles and Andrea Bronfman Philanthropies)

            In San Francisco - Warren Hellman (Chairman, San Francisco Jewish Community Federation Endowment)

            In Silicon Valley – Jim Koshland (President, San Francisco Jewish Community Federation)

At this early point we are focused on major donors. We have created a Founder’s Council consisting of contributors of $1 million or more over a number of years, as well as Explorer’s Circle for donors of at least $50,000 over 3 years. In addition to introduction to leading Israeli scientists who are recipients of I-SAEF grants, Founders’ name will be prominently mentioned and donors will be invited to private receptions with leading Israeli scientists developing the energy technologies of the future for special briefings on latest breakthroughs.

In Tom Friedman’s words,” renewable Energy Technologies-what I call ’E.T.’-are going to constitute the next great global industry. They will rival and probably surpass ‘I.T.”-Information Technology.” Together we can help Israel become a leader in new Energy Technologies while addressing some of the major problems of out time.

As reported in the Wall Street Journal, the energy economy is about $6 trillion dollars, while the internet economy is less then 1/10 of that world wide. A new clean energy economy is a huge opportunity ripe for Israel since Israel’s strength is its ability to innovate with intellectual and human resources rather than exploiting what is buried under the sand.

If the free world continues down its present path of petroleum addiction, the consequences for all of us are unthinkable. I-SAEF’s success will result in reduced worldwide energy costs, a cleaner environment, increased international political stability, as well as taking Israel into the next major stage of its economic growth.

We are putting our business skills and experience to work on this philanthropic initiative, dedicating our time and substantial support to pursue this effort. We encourage other Wexner Alums to join our work – let your vision and commitment to Israel and to improving the world at large be a model for others. Please consider joining us and taking action, now.

We hope you will send your comments and suggestions for us to Deborah Belous ( at San Francisco Jewish Community Federation.