Jerusalem Unity Prize accepting nominations, adds ex-IDF chief to committee

The mothers of slain Israeli teens Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Frenkel, and Gilad Shaar are pictured with former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz, the newest addition to the committee for the Jerusalem Unity Prize, which the teens' families co-founded. Credit: Sasson Tiram. 

( Nominations are currently being accepted for the second annual Jerusalem Unity Prize, which honors individuals who significantly promote unity in Jewish communities. The newest additions to the prize committee are Jewish Agency for Israel Chairman Natan Sharanksy and former Israel Defense Forces chief of staff Benny Gantz, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat announced this week.

The prize was launched by Barkat (the committee's chair), the Israeli non-profit Gesher, and the families of the three Jewish teens who were kidnapped and murdered by Hamas in Gush Etzion in the summer of 2014 (Gilad Shaar, Naftali Frenkel, and Eyal Yifrach). The award's creation was inspired by the global Jewish unity that was displayed while the teens were missing but not yet known to be dead.

“Benny Gantz is a natural leader whose resolve carried the Israeli military through the tragic period following our boys’ abduction and the subsequent campaign in Gaza,” the late teens’ families said in a statement. “Natan Sharansky serves as the ultimate symbol of Jewish heroism and courage whose personal story has inspired millions. Both of these figures therefore exhibit the traits which inspire pride and unity within the modern Jewish experience and we feel deeply honored to have them as part of this effort.”

“Jerusalem is the eternal home and capital of the Jewish people and the very symbol of the power of our unity. Historically, Jerusalem was not divided into tribes and the gates of our city have always been open to all. The Jerusalem Unity Prize is a modern celebration of that very power of the Jewish people coming together,” Barkat said.

Nominations for the unity prize will be accepted through Feb. 4 via Prizes of up to NIS 300,000 (about $75,000) will be awarded to unity initiatives on the local, national, and global levels.

Posted on January 21, 2016 .