Nominations are now being accepted for the second annual Jerusalem Unity Prize.
The prestigious award was originally created by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and the Sha'ar, Frenkel and Yifrah families in memories of their sons Gilad, Naftali and Eyal. At the launch of this year’s nomination process, Prize Committee Chair Mayor Nir Barkat announced that former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky have been appointed to the Prize Committee.
The prize is being given out in partnership with GESHER, and was designed to harness the spirit of national unity and solidarity that came out of the kidnapping and subsequent murders of the three teens. It aims to inspire continued work to bridge the divides within the greater Jewish community locally, nationally and internationally.
Nominations for the Prize will be accepted via an online site which was specially set up for the competition: www.unityprize.org. Nominations can be handed in until February 4, 2016. Prizes of up to 300,000 shekels total will be awarded in three separate categories for unity initiatives on the local, national and global levels. In the first contest held in 2015, the awards were presented to Brigadier General Ram Shmueli, Harav Chacham David Menachem, Nifgashim B’Shvil Yisrael and the Chabad House of Bangkok, Thailand.
The Prize will be presented on Unity Day which will take place in early June 2016. the day will be marked by programs already being scheduled across Israel and the Diaspora which are expected to involve more than one million people across the globe.
“Benny Gantz is a natural leader whose resolve carried the Israeli military through the tragic period following our boys’ abduction and the subsequent campaign in Gaza,” the Fraenkel, Sha'ar and Yifrah families said in a statement. “Natan Sharansky serves as the ultimate symbol of Jewish heroism and courage whose personal story has inspired millions. Both of these figures therefore exhibit the traits which inspire pride and unity within the modern Jewish experience and we feel deeply honored to have them as part of this effort.”
Mayor Barkat said, "Jerusalem is the eternal home and capital of the Jewish people and the very symbol of the power of our unity. Historically, Jerusalem was not divided into tribes and the gates of our city have always been open to all. The Jerusalem Unity Prize is a modern celebration of that very power of the Jewish people coming together.”
Lieutenant General Gantz welcomed the appointment by saying, "My position allowed me a unique perspective to appreciate the power of national unity and I truly believe that the security of our future, as a People and as a country, relies on the strength we possess when united. I am excited to be able to encourage and support those who believe in the importance of working together, and I consider it a privilege to be a part of the Jerusalem Unity Prize committee."
Mr. Sharansky said, “Jerusalem serves as a bridge between our People’s dream and our reality, and is the very realization of our national aspirations. The city unites us in times of victory as well as tragedy, reminding that when tragedy strikes it is incumbent upon us to rise and unite in action, in giving back and with mutual respect for all. I salute the Frenkel, Sha'ar and Yifrah families on this remarkable initiative and it is an honor to have been invited to be part of the program.”
“Unity Day proved itself as not just a welcomed program but indeed a necessary one whereby the Jewish world was reminded of just how much we can achieve when we put our differences aside and focus on our commonalities,” says Anat Schwarz Weil, Director of the Jerusalem Unity Prize. “There is no doubt that we as a people face many challenges- indeed to our very existence. So it is all that much more important that we rally behind this initiative so that we can be a stronger and more united Jewish people.”