Bill Beroza, Jessie Kraft Named Man/Woman of the Year

Bill Beroza is a co-founder of the Israel Lacrosse Association and the first head coach of the Israel men's national team.

NETANYA, ISRAEL – The Israel Lacrosse Association has honored Bill Beroza and Jessie Kraft, naming them the winners of the Mort and Judi Beroza Award for Man and Woman of the Year in recognition of their outstanding individual contributions to the development of lacrosse in Israel in 2018.

Beroza, who is a member of both the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and the US Lacrosse Hall of Fame, was named Israel’s first head coach at the program’s inception in 2011 and has served in that role for eight years through 2018. He is credited with guiding the blue-and-white from an amateur upstart to a perennial international contender. He owns a 23-8 all-time record in major championship events over his eight-year term, culminating with a 7th-place finish at the most recent FIL World Championships in Israel this past summer. Beroza recently handed the coaching reins over to Max Silberlicht, taking on the role as the Israel Lacrosse Association’s National Teams Chairman. He has served as a member of the Association’s Executive Board since its’ founding in 2011, and was instrumental in bringing the 2018 FIL World Lacrosse Championships to the Jewish State. Beroza has taken a hands-on role by making several trips to Israel annually to coach the youth of Israel and support the Association’s many programs.

“Bill really deserves this award every year,” said David Lasday, Israel Lacrosse’s COO. “His passion and commitment to not only our mission, but our values, goes far beyond his duty as a leader of our organization. Bill’s devotion to lacrosse in Israel and his approach set a high bar and defines the tenets of our entire community.”

Jessie Kraft served as Director of Partnerships for the 2018 FIL World Lacrosse Championships.
Jessie Kraft served as Director of Partnerships for the 2018 FIL World Lacrosse Championships.

Kraft, Israel Lacrosse’s Woman of the Year, relocated to Tel Aviv in 2017 to take on the role as Director of Partnerships for the 2018 FIL World Lacrosse Championshps. She served as a cornerstone for the event’s front office and Organizing Committee, responsible for critical pieces of hosting the largest-ever international lacrosse event, and the first outside of the traditional hotbeds of Australia, Canada, England and the United States. Kraft led efforts to bring in over 40 corporate and community partners for the World Championships, and spearheaded activation efforts prior to and through the event. She also took a hands-on role in fundraising to support tours for the 46 national teams to visit Jerusalem during their pre-Championship training camps. Kraft directly coordinated and organized the tours, ultimately bringing over 2,000 athletes to Israel’s capital.

“Jessie’s efforts had a remarkable impact on the success of the World Championships and our ability to showcase Israel to thousands of guests,” said Scott Neiss, Israel Lacrosse’s Executive Director. “Beyond being an absolute workhorse, she quickly became a leader and a steadying force for our staff. It’s been gratifying to see her strong passion for Israel continue to flourish since her arrival, and for her work to have that impact exponentially on so many new advocates for the State of Israel.”

The Beroza family support and generosity extended to create a pair of scholarships for students at Hofstra University, which still exist in perpetuity, as well as the LI Metropolitan Lacrosse Hall of Fame Dinner, the Greenport Shootout, New York Saints games, and many other regional lacrosse initiatives. Mort was serving as the Baldwin-Hempstead Post 312 Commander of the Jewish War Veterans of the USA, as well as the Nassau-Suffolk District Council Deputy Chaplain at the time of his death. Judi previously served as National President of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Jewish War Veterans of the USA.

Mort and Judi, who were active members of Hempstead’s Temple Beth Israel for over 60 years, exemplify the passion for the sport of lacrosse, as well as the commitment to service, family, and community – values on which the Israel Lacrosse Association is based.

Past Winners

2018: Bill Beroza, Jessie Kraft
2017: Seth Mahler, Moran Sasson
2016: Jim Gottlieb, Nancy Berkowitz
2015: Brad MacArthur, Emily Brodsky
2014: Rob Berkenblit, Julia Szafman
2013: Matt Glaser, Katie Mazer