Yoel Zilberman, 27, was born on Moshav Tzippori in the Lower Galilee. He is a third generation Israeli rancher. From a young age, he was taught the values of love of land and country.
Before his mandatory army service, Zilberman did an 18-month pre-army preparatory program at the Ma'ayan Baruch Mechina, followed by an additional mechina program. It was here that he became deeply involved in Zionist and textual study, and in social activism.
During his army service, Zilberman served in the Navy's most elite commando unit (Shayetet). He saw active duty in both the Second Lebanon and Gaza Wars. In 2007, while he was in an officer's training course, his father sat the family down and told them that he could not hold the family's sprawling ranch in the face of thieves and marauders. He was on the verge of bankruptcy.
Zilberman moved into action. He took leave from the army and set up an outpost on his father's property to guard the land. His friends joined him to patrol at night. Other farmers and ranchers asked Zilberman if he could also patrol their land.
In April 2008, HaShomer HaChadash - The New Israeli Guardians was born, and in February 2009, Zilberman was discharged from the army.
Today, Zilberman is the CEO of the organization and co-founder On Rifman is the Educational Director. They are dedicated to creating a more just, caring and mutually responsible society.
Zilberman is studying for his BA in Islamic and Middle Eastern studies at the Open University. At the same time, he teaches social entrepreneurship at the Ein Prat Leadership Academy in Kfar Adumim.
Zilberman is one of 19 outstanding young social leaders chosen by President Shimon Peres to form a social entrepreneurship "think tank", which brings together young people
On Rifman grew up on Kibbutz Revivim in the Negev, where he experienced the ongoing encroachment of the Beduin on state-owned land. During his army service, he was in the elite Sayeret Matkal combat unit and spent two years in the professional army as a commander in Sayeret Matkal. Upon his discharge he helped to establish the Tel Aviv Mechina - pre-army preparatory program with Yaffa Shai Hadad and taught two courses at the Mechina.
At the time that Yoel Zilberman was dealing with the problem of how to protect his father’s land, Rifman was facing the same problem in the Negev. When the two met, they decided to establish HaShomer HaChadash. In addition to the volunteer civil guard activity, Rifman and Zilberman felt that it was essential to create a Leadership Program that would connect young people to the land in a meaningful, practical way.
As such, Rifman has been instrumental in moving the Young Leadership program of HaShomer HaChadash forward. Established in 2010, it is now in its third year and Rifman is the educational director. He oversees all of the program’s educational activities and hopes to groom a cadre of future leaders with a strong Jewish-Israeli identity who will continue on to meaningful army service and dynamic social activism, and serve as role models for their generation.
Rifman holds a BA in Behavioral Sciences, with a focus on political science and history of the Jewish nation, from the Open University. He is a frequent lecturer at high schools and social justice forums and conferences. He lives with his wife and infant son in Ma’ale Hahamisha, outside of Jerusalem.