Independence Day this year is centered on the 40-year milestone since the reunification of Jerusalem. In accordance, Jerusalemites (or people who contributed greatly to the city) are being honored as they light the ceremonial torches at Mount Herzl at the start of Independence Day tonight.
Meet this year's honorees:
Cohen-Kishik was born in 1917 in Argentina and raised in Jerusalem. She moved to Beirut with her husband in the late 1930s and taught Hebrew in the community there. In 1947, Cohen-Kishik became a Mossad agent, providing intelligence information and helping Jews leave Arab countries and immigrate to Israel. She was arrested by Syrian-Lebanese security forces in 1961 and sentenced to death, although the sentence was appealed and shortened. She was released after six years, as part of a prisoner exchange in 1967. Cohen-Kishik now lives in Israel and volunteers at IDF bases and schools.
Mordechai Eliav (Solly)
Eliav, a father of five, graduated from the Kfar Haroeh yeshiva high school, and attended the Har Etzion hesder yeshiva. He taught at Jerusalem's Evelina deRothschild high school, as well as in middle school in Kdumim. He began the Reishit Yerushalayim tours and seminars in 1984, familiarizing others with the nation of Israel. He began the Lech Yerushalayim educational center in the Old City of Jerusalem in 1986. He founded the Western Wall Heritage Foundation in 1988 and continues running it today. The Foundation is meant to connect today's generation and future generations with their pasts.
Israel's fifth president (1978-1983) was born in Jerusalem, to a family that had been in the city for over 300 years. He is related to a dynasty of well-known Sephardi rabbis, as well. He fought in the Haganah as the head of the Arabic division in Jerusalem. Navon served in administrative positions for David Ben-Gurion and Moshe Sharet. He was an MK and head of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, and later the education minister and vice prime minister. He was also the chairman of the World Zionist Organization and the America-Israel Foundation. As president, Navon worked to bridge the ethnic gaps in Israel, the religious-secular divide, the Jewish-Arab divide, and the gap between residents of the center and the periphery.
Cheshin, a mother of three and grandmother to six, was born in Jerusalem and is a sixth generation Israeli. She is the president of the Jerusalem Foundation, which works to better the welfare of the capital's residents. The Foundation has run thousands of projects in the city, including ventures in culture, art, education, sport, health, science, religion, preservation and tolerance, among the many.
A Jerusalemite who runs the Lev Hair community center; he is known for his community work in both the Jewish and Arab sectors, as well as his preservation and organizational activities in Mahane Yehuda and Nahlaot.
A Jerusalem resident who has raised her three children, seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren in the city. She was a member of the Lechi in the 1940s, and now volunteers in the city.
Prof. Yosef Shenkar
Internationally known gynecologist/obstetrician who pioneered fertility treatments for both men and women, while based in Jerusalem for over 40 years.
Prof. Nava Ben-Zvi
Jerusalemite who was worked to further higher education in the sciences. She was one of the founders of the Open University and now serves as the president of Hadassah College in the capital.
An actor who has lived in Jerusalem since 1976. He has played in many theaters in Israel and taught drama to children and adults.
A native Jerusalemite who worked for the security establishment for years, beginning with the Hagana in the 1930s. He was imprisoned by the British for running weapons, and later helped bring Israel its first fighter planes.
Maj. Dr. David Yehuda (res.)
Orthopedic surgery specialist who worked for the Jewish Agency. Yehuda was a medical officer in the IDF and volunteered for reserve duty in this past summer's war in Lebanon.
St.-Sgt. Maj. Yosef Lieberman (res)
The son of Holocaust survivors who came to Israel illegally as Ma'apilim, Lieberman fought in the War of Attrition and the Yom Kippur War. He always held command positions throughout his service.
Dep. Cmdr. Fares Faraj
A Druse officer who has served in the police for 34 years, including during this summer's war in the North.
Snr. St.-Sgt. Maj. Avraham Yehuda Shriki
A senior sapper in the Jerusalem District, Shariki has successfully defused car bombs, bomb belts and other explosives since 1986.