Submissions are now being welcomed online for the Jerusalem Unity Prize in Memory of Eyal, Gil-ad, and Naftali. Following the tragic kidnapping and murder of Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar, and Naftali Frenkel, z’l, which deeply moved Israeli society and Jews around the globe, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat recognized the need to emphasize the importance of the unity of the Jewish people.
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 that 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 Frenkel 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 three mothers came together to film a video for the award launch, which can be viewed at www.youtube.com/watch?v=W_NZV21k1_Q.
The award will be presented in three 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.
Individuals or Organizations. This award will be presented to individuals, entities, or organizations that demonstrate having worked in an exemplary manner to advance Jewish unity over an extended period of time.
Social Initiatives. This award will be presented to individual visionaries or groups of visionaries that have advanced social programs that challenge the problem of disunity within the greater Jewish community.
Israel and the Diaspora. This award will be presented to individuals or groups that 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 scheduled for the first 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.