It all began back in 1993 when a group of 10 Wexner Israel Fellows were staring their year at Harvard and were on the verge of an amazing professional and life adventure.  Who could have imagined that more than 20 years later this group would still have a strong and wonderful friendship.

Our first gathering was in the garden of the Parag home in Ramat Yishai, with the idea that meeting and getting to know one another prior to embarking on our Harvard adventure would contribute to our experience.  Since then, WIF Class 5 meets regularly every Shavuot to catch up on life events, share good food and enjoy one another’s company.  We take turns hosting our get-togethers and have become good friends, often meeting during the year for short day trips in Israel, a wedding, a special birthday or another event. 

This Shavuot went well beyond our cohort’s tradition of sharing the holiday with good food and conversation.  Our Class 5 family flew to Cyprus for four days of travel, touring and dining and were hosted very graciously by Sandy Oppenheim (WIF Alum, Class 5) and his wife, Barbara.  Yoel Finkel (WIF Alum, Class 5) and Sandy created a very well-planned itinerary, which included an overview of tourist attractions, highlights of the Cyprus scenery and food galore.  Sandy and Barbara were charming tour guides and the talented Barbara became our official photographer who documented the events.  A taste of Barbara’s photography is shared here.  We returned home with renewed friendship and deeper connections.  

So this is an opportunity to thank you, Les and Abigail, for providing not only an amazing and inspiring professional leadership platform, but also an opportunity for long-lasting friendship.

Ayala Parag, WIF Alum (Class 5), is Chief Physiotherapist of Israel in the Ministry of Health (MOH).  She also serves as a member of various National Health Councils, including the Rehabilitation Council, the Community Health Council and the Council for Health Promotion.  She is the acting chairman for the Committee for Health Promotion of People with Disabilities, Healthy Israel 2020 and a member of the MOH Committee regarding regulation in alternative and complementary medicine.  In the past she served as consultant for the Ministry of Health in Nazareth and as clinical instructor for Russian immigrant physicians participating in a career change program.  Ayala can be reached at