The newly launched Jerusalem Unity Prize for Young Leadership salutes the spirit of innovation and commitment to bridging gaps within the Jewish world among the younger generation.

The Jerusalem Unity Prize, together with Hillel International, has announced the launch of the Jerusalem Unity Prize for Young Leadership, to be awarded to student leaders working on their campuses to advance Jewish unity.

The prize will be officially awarded in Jerusalem as part of Unity Day commemorations on June 1, in the presence of the Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat. The award will salute “the spirit of innovation and commitment to bridging gaps within the Jewish world among the younger generation.”

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The Jerusalem Unity Prize was first launched in 2015 by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat together with GESHER and the families of Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach – the three Israeli teens who were kidnapped and murdered by Hamas terrorists in the summer of 2014.  The events surrounding their deaths provided an unprecedented catalyst for global Jewish unity that the families chose to commemorate through the development of the award.

“This new award, as part of the Jerusalem Unity Prize, will serve to further the goal of uniting the Jewish people around the globe,” Barkat said. “By recognizing these student leaders, we are empowering young people to take it upon themselves to create a brighter Jewish future.”

“This new award is intended to highlight unity initiatives specifically on campuses which traditionally serve as centers of communal activity,” said Anat Schwarz Weil, director of the Jerusalem Unity Prize.  “We know that these campuses will foster the Jewish leaders of tomorrow and together with Hillel we believe it is important that Jewish unity be highlighted as an ideal that is integral towards creating a better Jewish future.”

Eric D. Fingerhut, CEO & president of Hillel International, said, “Hillel International is proud to join Jerusalem Unity Prize in launching this award to further Jewish unity on college campuses and beyond. The families of Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali have experienced an indescribable tragedy and are using it to create a blessing for the whole Jewish people. This is an important model and lesson for our next generation.”

The award, to be chosen by a committee, including the Jerusalem mayor; Bat-Galim and Ofir Shaer, parents of Gilad; and Fingerhut, will be granted to the candidate or organization whose submission best reflects a commitment to the ideals of bridging gaps within Jewish society and implementing them in an active manner.  The winner, either an individual or a student group, will receive $5,000 as well as transportation costs to attend the awards ceremony in Jerusalem.

“Unity is an ideal which has spanned thousands of years of Jewish history and this award will ensure that its importance is carried on to the next generation,”  the parents of the boys said in a joint statement. “Continuing that legacy is the most appropriate tribute to our sons as a way to both educate and inspire Jews all over the world.”

(Candidates for the prize are invited to submit their applications online, at  http://unityprize.org/home-page/.  Deadline for submissions is April 7, 2016.)

By: Yehuda Barkai

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