Jerusalem Unity Prize established in memory of kidnapped Israeli teens


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat announced the creation of a prize in memory of three Israeli teens who were kidnapped and murdered by Palestinians.

The Jerusalem Unity Prize, which was announced Thursday, will honor the spirit of unity that existed across Israel in the days following the kidnapping of Gilad Shaer, Eyal Yifrah, and Naftali Fraenkel in June.

The prize was developed in partnership with the families of the three teens and the Jerusalem-based organization Gesher.

In a video announcing the prize, the teens’ mothers call on Jews “to take a deep breath [and] bridge the gaps that divide us.”

Winners of the award, which carries a $25,000 prize, will be chosen by a committee chaired by Barkat, the parents of the three teens and dignitaries from Israel and the Diaspora, organizers said in a statement.

“While grappling with the unknown question of the fate of their sons, the Yifrah, Shaer and Fraenkel 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,” Barkat said. “The Jerusalem Unity Prize will spread this message from Jerusalem across the world and become the eternal legacy of these three remarkable young men.”

In addition to the prize, a Unity Day is being planned for June 3 in Jerusalem where the awards will be presented alongside programming to promote unity initiatives.  The event is being held on the one-year anniversary of the teens’ deaths.

The prize is funded by Ira and Ingeborg Rennert, Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein, Robert and Amy Book, David and Sarena Koschitzky and UJA-Federation of New York.

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