Submissions are now being welcomed online for the Jerusalem Unity Prize in memory of Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Fraenkel, z”l, whose tragic kidnapping and murder deeply moved Israeli society and Jews around the globe.
The prize was conceived in partnership with the families of the three boys and Jerusalem-based organization Gesher as a way to perpetuate the spirit of unity which existed across Israel and around the world during the days following the boys’ kidnapping.
“While grappling with the unknown question of the fate of their sons, the Yifrach, Shaar and Fraenkel families taught the entire world a remarkable lesson in courage and showed us that unity is a value that enables us to overcome even the greatest challenges,” said Mayor Barkat, who was inspired to create the Prize in the days following the boys’ kidnapping. “The Jerusalem Unity Prize will spread this message from Jerusalem across the world and become the eternal legacy of these three remarkable young men.”
Iris Yifrach expressed her vision of the prize harnessing the feeling of a common fate that her family felt in the wake of the kidnapping. “For many years, Eyal talked about unity and connecting to others. The most appropriate way to pay tribute to his life is to commit ourselves to these ideals.”
The award will be presented in three separate categories, each with prizes of up to 100,000 shekel. Winners will be chosen from a committee chaired by the Mayor, the parents of the three boys and dignitaries from Israel and the Diaspora.
1. Individuals or Organizations – This award will be presented to individuals, entities or organizations who prove that they have worked in an exemplary manner to advance Jewish unity over an extended period of time.
2. Social Initiatives – This award will be presented to individual visionaries or groups of visionaries who have advanced social programs that challenge the problem of dis-unity within the greater Jewish community.
3. Israel and the Diaspora – This award will be presented to individuals or groups who have successfully advanced programs that better unite the Diaspora with the land and people of Israel.
“Our goal is to transform the concept of unity from an abstract idea to real life action,” says Anat Schwarz Weil, Director of the initiative. “Despite all that they have been through, these families have become the embodiment of the importance and strength of Jewish unity. This idealism rooted in action makes the families the perfect ambassadors to carry this message of unity to Israel and the world.”
In addition to the prize, a special Unity Day is being planned for June 3, 2015 in Jerusalem where the awards will be presented alongside programming to promote unity initiatives. The event is being held on the one year anniversary of the boys’ deaths.
The Jerusalem Unity Prize and Unity Day are being made possible thanks to the support of Ira and Ingeborg Rennert, Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein, Robert and Amy Book, David and Sarena Koschitzky and the UJA-Federation of New York.