Click here to read our applicants' reflections on Byron Krieger's legacy.
2018 Winner: Esther Bentolila of Hollywood, Florida
Esther Bentolila will attend Cornell University. She was recruited to fence for Cornell's sabre squad team. Esther is a competitive A level fencer and ranked 1st in the state of Florida, Regional RJCC Junior points winner, and 24th in the U.S. Junior Team.
In 2015, she won a Silver Medal at the Cadet World Cup in Germany. In 2014, Esther earned the title of National Champion for her age group. She fenced in the Junior Olympics Championships earning 9th place in Cadet and 10th place in Junior in the year 2016. Additionally, she competed in several North American Cups earning top eight finishes and fifth place in 2018. Esther began fencing 10 years ago and trains five days a week.
Esther is a graduate of Scheck Hillel Community School. Rabbi Elie Ganz, Judaics Studies teacher, writes: "Esther's devotion to the well-being of others, in tandem with her Jewish pride and values, makes her a remarkable young woman whose character and accomplishments shine brightly."
Esther is involved in Jewish organizations such as NCSY and AIPAC and volunteers for WIZO (Women’s International Zionist Organization). Esther is also a talented musician in piano and violin. She is fluent in 3 languages and has strong family ties to Latin American culture. In addition to aspirations of joining the 2020 U.S. Olympic team, Esther's career goal is surgical medicine.
Judaism is my essence, my being.
I am beyond honored and humbled to have been chosen for this scholarship. I would love to carry on the legacy that Byron left and aspire to follow his footsteps, and eventually pay it forward in both the Jewish and fencing world.
We must continue the teachings of the Torah and pass on the customs and traditions from generation to generation so that the legacy and torch of Judaism can be passed on.
2017 Winner: Alyssa Hirsch of Huntington Woods, Michigan
2017 Runner-Up: Luby Kiriakidi of Rochester, New York
Alyssa Hirsch will attend Wayne State University, Byron Krieger’s alma mater, and fence for its NCAA Division II team. Like Byron, Alyssa fences foil, did not begin the sport until high school, and has a passion for history.
Alyssa trains daily at the Renaissance Fencing Club in Troy, Michigan under the direction of Head Foil Coach, Anatolie Senic. Alyssa is a member of the senior elite class and consistently places in the top eight in RJCC (Regional Junior Cadet Circuit) events. At the Midwest RJCC, Alyssa won second place in the Junior Women’s Foil. She is currently ranked 7th in her junior regional division. She placed 3rd in the 2017 midwest high school circuit. Recently, Alyssa placed 3rd at the Division III Women’s Foil and 7th in Division II at the North American Cup in Baltimore.
A senior at the International Academy charter school, Alyssa maintains a 3.9 GPA in addition to her rigorous fencing training. She is also a talented musician and plays for her school orchestra and brass quintet. Alyssa is active in her Hebrew school, synagogue, and community pursuing service projects of tikkun olam (repairing the world).
Being Jewish to me is being accepting of others, because you yourself know the pain of oppression, and at the end of the day, we are all human.
Luby is a junior at Cornell University studying Classics. She began her fencing training under the direction of her father, David Taylor, then later at the Rochester, NY Fencing Club and then Cornell University. Luby has competed nationally and won 1st place in Women’s Foil at the New York State Championship. She was one of only three Cornell team fencers to qualify for the 2017 NCAA Championships.
Daria Hyla Schneider, Head Fencing Coach at Cornell, wrote: "Luby brings an open mind, a sunny disposition, incredible work ethic, and a never-ending hunger for excellence to practice every day.”
I believe kindness is one of the most powerful gifts that anyone can bestow on herself and the people around her every day. Some see it as a sign of weakness, but I disagree, and it seems Mr. Krieger did too, considering how strong of an individual he was.