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Education chief at Israel Prize ceremony warns of ‘brain drain’

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s education minister, Shai Piron, at the Israel Prize ceremony expressed his concerns about a "brain drain."

Piron was one of nine winners of the annual award, which was given out Tuesday at the close of Israel Independence Day celebrations. The prize is generally regarded as Israel’s highest honor.

He said Israel must allocate more money for research and intellectual pursuits.

“We must do everything in our power so that the names of Nobel laureates, Israel Prize winners, scholars and intellectuals, writers and revolutionaries are celebrated in our culture,” Piron said.

He expressed concern that Israeli intellectuals and scientists would emigrate from Israel for more profitable careers in the Diaspora. 

The Israel Prize committee awarded lifetime achievement awards to Hebrew music scholar Eliyahu Hacohen and the late mayor of Ariel, Ron Nachman, who died in January. Nachman’s wife, Dorit, accepted the award on his behalf. 

Other Israel Prize awards were presented to architect and urban planner Adam Mazor of Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, in the architecture and design category; Gideon Dagan, professor emeritus at Tel Aviv University, in the Earth sciences research and study of the atmosphere category; Tel Aviv University professor Nathan Nelson, in life sciences; Yosef Kaplan, professor emeritus at Hebrew University, for the study of the history of Israel; Chava Turniansky of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, in Jewish languages and literature; Yoram Bilu, in sociology and anthropology; and Nola Chilton of the Department of Theater Arts at Tel Aviv University, in performing arts.

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