Israeli President Isaac Herzog on Wednesday night awarded the country’s Presidential Medal of Honor to 13 leaders from Israel and the Diaspora during a festive ceremony at his Jerusalem residence.
The award was conferred upon Chava Alberstein, a leading folk musician; Adi Altschuler, founder of Zikaron BaSalon; professor Meir Buzaglo, a Jewish renewal activist; Rabbi Menachem HaCohen, an interfaith leader and former Knesset member; professor Mona Khoury, VP of strategy and diversity at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Maj.-Gen. (res.) Dan Tolkowsky, a retired Israeli Air Force officer; Carmela Menashe, the military correspondent for Army Radio; Bibras Natcho, former captain of the Israeli national soccer team; Dr. Assad Araidy, an educator; and social entrepreneur Lena Shtern.
The president also honored Diaspora leaders André Azoulay, a senior adviser to Moroccan King Mohammed VI, and former Canadian Justice Minister Irwin Cotler.
The Kemach Foundation, which promotes employment in Israel’s haredi (or ultra-Orthodox) sector, received the organizational prize.
“You have been privileged to do good, to bring about change, and to make a dramatic contribution to the State of Israel, to the Jewish people, for all humanity. This is why each and every one of you is worthy of receiving the highest civilian decoration in Israel,” Herzog told the recipients.
He added: “Thank you, dear recipients, not only for your wonderful contribution but also for the ray of light that you represent in these difficult days, when polarization and division are so prevalent.”
The Presidential Medal of Honor, bestowed upon individuals who “made a unique contribution to the State of Israel,” was an initiative of the Ninth President of the State of Israel, the late Shimon Peres, and was awarded for the first time in 2012. To date, the award has been awarded to 26 individuals, on the recommendation of an advisory committee headed by the retired president of the Supreme Court.