AGNES KELETI receives the Israel Prize from Education Minister Naftali Bennett in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: SHLOMI AMSALEM)
As Israel celebrated its 69th birthday, the 2017 Israel Prizes were awarded to nine laureates in an official ceremony in Jerusalem on Tuesday.
The ceremony took place at the Jerusalem International Convention Center in the presence of President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, Supreme Court President Justice Miriam Naor, Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.
In the opening address, Bennett said the secret ingredient for Israel’s success as the “Start-Up Nation” stems not only from innovation, which he said “births ideas,” but from entrepreneurship, which leads to the realization of these ideas and is encouraged in all aspects of Israeli society, including in youth movements, the IDF, as well as in education, society and in hi-tech fields.
He praised the laureates and said they were real entrepreneurs for realizing their ideas, work and research.
“Make our beloved State of Israel a light unto the nations,” Bennett said, addressing the next generation of Israeli youth.
“Look around you. There are improvements [to be made] all around you waiting for you. Everywhere, there is an injustice waiting just for you. Every street corner there is an initiative that only you can undertake,” he said.
He called on youth to be entrepreneurs: “Get up and do something,” he said.
This year’s Israel Prizes were awarded to seven laureates across a variety of categories: Prof. Nili Cohen, president of the Israel Academy of Science and Humanities for Legal Research; Prof.
Yosef Yarden from the Weizmann Institute of Science for Life Science Research; Professor Yehuda Liebes, of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for Judaism studies; Prof. Uri Shaked of the Tel Aviv University for Engineering Research; Prof.
Malka Margalit from Tel Aviv University for Education Research; classical pianist Arie Vardi in the field of Music; and 96-year-old Holocaust survivor and 10 time Olympic medalist for artistic gymnastics, Agnes Keleti, in the field of Sport and Physical Culture.
In addition, two Israel Prizes for lifetime achievement, representing a special contribution to society and the state of Israel were awarded.
Ir David Foundation chairman David Be’eri, who founded the right-wing NGO Elad and has renovated the City of David and helped relocate Jewish residents to east Jerusalem received the Prize.
“David Be’eri initiated, founded, led and continues to lead the welcome work that made the City of David a first-class heritage, education and tourism site.
For his contribution to the state in the establishment of his individual enterprise, which became a national enterprise, the City of David, he is being given the prize on the 50th anniversary of the city’s reunification,” the prize committee wrote in its decision.
Social activist Tzvika Levy, known as the “father of lone soldiers,” who has helped hundreds of lone soldiers serving in the IDF, also received the prize and gave a moving speech in which he recounted the singing of Hatikva together with a female lone soldier who was killed in a terrorist attack in the middle of singing the song.
“Tzvika Levy has made a decisive contribution to the State in mobilizing for the lone IDF soldiers. For decades, he has been acting for hundreds of thousands of soldiers without means and for his commendable treatment and devotion of bereaved families. This is a one-man, life project whose activity was that of a complete movement,” the prize committee wrote in its decision.
The Israel Prize is largely regarded as the state’s highest honor. This year marks the 64th year it has been awarded.