(JNS.org) The second annual Jerusalem Unity Prize was awarded at the Israeli President's Residence on Wednesday to organizations that work to promote and inspire Jewish unity.
The prize was established through a partnership between Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, the Gesher non-profit, and the families of Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar, and Naftali Frenkel—the three Jewish teenagers who were kidnapped and murdered by Hamas terrorists in June 2014 ahead of that summer's Gaza war.
The recipients of this year's award are Kesher Yehudi (Jewish Connection), which works to facilitate dialogue between secular and haredi Jews; Jerusalem's Hapoel Katamon soccer club, which promotes youth community outreach; the Jewish Agency's Global School Twinning Network, which connects students around the world to discuss Jewish identity and social responsibility; and a joint initiative to increase interaction among the religious Bnei Akiva youth movement and the secular Hanoar Haoved Vehalomed and Dror youth movements.
“The Jerusalem Unity Prize and Jerusalem Unity Day, which we mark today, is a day which asks of us to preserve that ‘togetherness,’ this time out of choice,” Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said during the prize ceremony.
“Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat approached us during the shiva (Jewish mourning period) and suggested that we participate in something like this,” Rachel Frenkel, the bereaved mother of Naftali Frenkel, told Tazpit Press Service. “It developed into the Jerusalem Unity Prize and then into Jerusalem Unity Day with the help of the organization Gesher so people are doing special unity activities today....When I speak to my children who lost their beloved brother to a group of 30 Palestinian terrorists who organized the attack, I tell them that I don’t want them to be raised on hatred. I make sure that they know the difference between Hamas and our Arab neighbors. It sounds like a cliche. But it’s simply about the ability to open up and feel close to others despite the differences and to find common ground.”