One million Jews in over 20 countries are marking the first annual Unity Day in honor of the three teenagers kidnapped and murdered by Palestinian terrorists last summer.
One million Jews in over 20 countries joined Wednesday to mark the first annual Unity Day in memory of three teenagers – Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shar and Naftali Frankel – who were kidnapped and murdered by Palestinian terrorists last summer. The sense of unity that prevailed throughout the country not only while the search for the boys was ongoing, but also after their bodies were found, inspired their parents to create the unity event.
In honor of Unity Day, the first annual Jerusalem Unity Prize will be awarded to individuals who have contributed to the eroding of differences within the Jewish community. Awards of up to 100,000 shekels will be given in the categories of Israeli individual, Israeli organization, and Israel-Diaspora initiative.
This year’s winners include: Raya and Yossi Ofner, who founded Nifgashim BeShvil Yisrael, an annual two-month hike along the Israel National Trail with the purpose of encouraging dialogue between different sectors of Israeli society in memory of their son, Avi, who was killed in the 1997 IDF helicopter disaster; Brigadier General (ret.) Ran Shmueli, founder of Meetchabrim, an initiative to promote civil society and prevent social segmentation by bringing together social, economic, and political leaders and organizations; Hacham David Menachem, a composer of piyutim (verses) who uses liturgical music to promote tolerance; and the Chabad House of Bangkok, Thailand, which serves as a meeting point for tens of thousands of Jews who visit the country each year.
The Jerusalem Unity Prize is funded through a foundation established by the Yifrach, Shaar and Frankel families, in cooperation with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barakat and Gesher, an organization dedicated to bringing together the different segments of Israeli society. Over 200 nominations were submitted for the prize, and the families were involved in selecting the winners.