The brave families of the three murdered Israeli boys have chosen not to succumb to terror. Instead, they are promoting Israeli unity and strength.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat announced on Thursday the official launch of the Jerusalem Unity Prize, celebrating contributions to the solidarity of the Israeli nation.
The award was established in memory of Gilad Shaar, Naftali Frankel, and Eyal Yifrach, the three Israeli youths who were abducted and murdered by Hamas terrorists this past summer. During the period of the search, despite the horror, there was a sense of true unity throughout the country.
The prize was conceived in partnership with the families of the three boys and the Jerusalem-based Gesher organization, a non-profit dedicated for more than 40 years to closing the social gaps between different segments of Israeli society. The award is viewed as an opportunity to perpetuate the spirit of unity that existed in the days following the boys’ kidnapping.
Eternal Legacy of Three Remarkable Young Men
“While grappling with the unknown question of the fate of their sons, the Yifrach, Shaar and Frankel 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,” Barkat explained. “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 as a means to harness 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 three mothers also came together to produce a special clip for the occasion.
WATCH the special clip:
The award will be presented in three separate categories, each with prizes of up to NIS 100,000. Winners will be chosen by a committee chaired by the mayor, the parents of the three boys and dignitaries from Israel and the Diaspora.
The three categories are: Individuals or Organizations – presented to individuals, entities or organizations demonstrating that they have worked in an exemplary manner to advance Jewish unity over an extended period of time; Social Initiatives – presented to individual visionaries or groups of visionaries who have advanced social programs that challenge the problem of disunity within the greater Jewish community; and Israel and the Diaspora – presented to individuals or groups who have successfully advanced programs that better unite the Diaspora with the land and the people of Israel.
Idealism Rooted in Action
“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, during which the awards will be presented alongside programming to promote unity initiatives. The event will be held on the 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.