Kidnapped Israeli teens.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat in conjunction with the parents of murdered Yeshiva students Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaer and Eyal Yiftah, Gesher and other outreach organizations and institutions as well as President Reuven Rivlin, on Thursday launched the Jerusalem Prize for National Unity in memory of the three boys. Speaking at the President’s Residence, Barkat praised the inspiring example of the parents and the spontaneous spirit of national solidarity with their ordeal.
In announcing the prize, which he stated was born out of great pain, Barkat said that today, with elections imminent and so many rifts in Israeli society, national unity was of critical concern and more important than ever.
There will be three prizes: one to an organization or individual working towards national unity; one for initiative and social entrepreneurship and the last to an organization whose projects result in closer connections between Israel and the Jewish diaspora.
Avraham Fraenkel spoke of how the families were strengthened by the show of solidarity from Israel and abroad. “We felt that we were not alone and we wanted to maintain the spirit of that time, so that Jews around the world will be linked by that inner spark of solidarity that existed then.”
“What had happened to Eyal, Gilad and Naftali said Uri Yifrah, had created a new spirit of solidarity which “brought us to another place, and we felt a duty both to the nation and our sons.”
“As parents we have to cope with our own personal pain each day,” said Ofer Shaer, “but in memory of our sons we want to create something living and lasting in the spirit of unity that accompanied us during the worst period of our lives. This is an opportunity to promote mutual respect, tolerance and dialogue, despite existing differences.”
Rivlin noted that people from all sectors worried about the fate of the boys, “because we all saw them as our sons.” Mutual responsibility should not be something ephemeral, said Rivlin, but should be nurtured. “We want to amplify the positive voices in society.”