For the first time in the history of the Jerusalem Unity Prize, and in honor of the 70th anniversary of the State of Israel, a Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Birthright Israel for their significant work and contribution to the connection between Israel and world Jewry.
By Susanna Bargman
Birthright Israel was announced as one of 2018’s recipients of the Jerusalem Unity Prize, chosen from among hundreds of candidates.
For the first time in the history of the award and in honor of the 70th anniversary of the State of Israel, a Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Birthright Israel for their significant work and contribution to the connection between Israel and world Jewry.
Gidi Mark, Birthright Israel CEO: “We are deeply honored to receive this lifetime achievement award from such an inspiring and important initiative. Over the past 18 years, we have welcomed more than 600,000 participants in Israel in order to strengthen their Jewish identity as well as their connection to the Jewish state. The interaction among these participants, representing a variety of opinions and backgrounds, has cultivated hundreds of thousands of different personal longstanding connections and we are very proud of their impact on the Jewish people’s unity.”
The Jerusalem Unity Prize is an initiative of the Mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, the Ifrach, Shaer and Fraenkel families, Israel’s Ministry of Social Equality, Israel’s Ministry of Education and the Gesher Organization.
In the summer of 2014, Jews the world over were devastated to learn that Gilad Shaer, Naftali Fraenkel and Eyal Ifrach, were kidnapped and murdered, but amidst all the tragedy and sorrow, so much good emerged.
Israeli society and world Jewry united to create a true atmosphere of solidarity. By awarding this unique prize, the families of the three boys seek to illuminate the value of unity.
The prize celebrates organizations in Israel and throughout the world that contribute to the unity of Israeli society and the Jewish people and inspire similar projects and activities among others. This is the fourth consecutive year that the Jerusalem Unity Prize will be awarded in memory of the boys as part of Global Jewish Unity Day.
In addition to the Lifetime achievement award introduced this year, the prize also includes local, national and international categories. This year’s financial reward of 150,000 shekels for the prizewinners will be divided between the recipients: Birthright Israel, Kululam, Runners Without Borders, TEC Center and The Jewish Unity Project in Boca Raton, Florida.
The winners of this year’s prize were chosen by the nominating committee: The Chairman of the Prize Committee, Mayor of Jerusalem, Mr. Nir Barkat, Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Benny Gantz, Olympic medalist Yarden Jerbi, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, Rabbi Dr. Danny Tropper, former Minister Prof. Yuli Tamir, Chairman of the Lautman Foundation Noam Lautman, Rabbi Yitzhak David Grossman, singer Kobi Oz, Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky, Amal As’ad and the Israch, Shaer and Franekle families.
Prize committee Member, Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Benny Gantz: “One of the most difficult moments of my position as IDF Chief of Staff was when I received the devastating news about the bodies of the three boys being found. The boys’ families turned their personal disaster into a source of national strength – the Jerusalem Unity Prize was born out of this great tragedy. Our country’s defense challenges are numerous; the external threats are constantly changing and will continue challenging us. The ability to stand together in times of crisis is crucial and in the face of these challenges, the most vital thing for Israel’s resilience is our unity, which we should all promote each and every day.”
The prizes will be awarded at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem as part of the fourth annual “Global Jewish Unity Day” to take place on June 6th, 2018 in the presence of President Reuven Rivlin, Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat, members of the prize committee and the families of the three boys.
Taken from a Birthright press release.