About Us

Why we do what we do…

our vision

Inspired by our Aunt Rayah, a fiercely
independent and kind person, we amplify the voices of women who are changing the world.

our goals

The Rayah Fund believes in women and their unique power to make the world a better place. With that in mind, we:

  • Champion leaders who are sparking change in their own communities
  • Create partnerships to exchange knowledge and learn together
  • Convene to explore and celebrate new possibilities of collaboration

our story

Our inspiration is personal, like all good stories! Rebecca ‘Rayah’ Zeiger was one of the first women who graduated medical school in Russia. During the Russian Revolution, she was a doctor for the White Army and then fled in 1923 with her husband and immigrated to America. Once in New York, she learned English, passed her medical exams again and opened her own practice that thrived for over fifty years.

Aunt Rayah

Rebecca ‘Rayah’ Zeiger, 1930

Anna Prozan Cohen, Rayah’s dear sister-law, immigrated to America alone at the age of 17 in 1904. She made her way as a seamstress and eventually brought the rest of her family over to New York. When she married, she was determined that her four children receive a college

Aunt Rayah

Anna Prozan Cohen, 1912

Our ‘Mama’, Mildred Cohen Stern, was Anna’s oldest daughter who went to college, became a bookkeeper and then a high school math teacher at a time when women were not considered good with numbers. Rayah, without children of her own, became a beloved aunt to Mildred. Coming full circle, Rayah delivered Mildred’s children, including her daughter Barbara.


Mildred Cohen Stern, 1957

Professor Barbara Stern Burstin, along with her children, are dedicated to celebrating women who lead their lives with passion and purpose. At the Rayah Fund, we continue to carry on their tradition of independence, determination and breaking barriers.

Rayah Family

Barbara with her four children, Andrea, Jeffrey, Debbie and Nancy, 1973

Rayah and me

Barbara Stern Burstin with her daughter, Nancy, 1973

our approach

How do we select our honorees? We do our research! We travel, we meet, we listen and we find those who are spearheading social change initiatives all over Israel. We work with our honorees, supporting them and offering ways to highlight their efforts.

Additionally, we rely on original research that explores the civil society in Israel. You can read reports on topics such as shared society organizations here and the work of women’s organizations and feminist
activism here.

Contact Us

We are interested in building relationships and strengthening professional networks in Israel and in the United States. If you would like more information about the Rayah Fund honorees, please let us know.