The 14 torch lighters for the 70th Independence Day ceremony at Mount Herzl were announced on Sunday by Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev, who heads the Ministerial Committee on Symbols and Ceremonies.
The torch lighters include: singer Shlomo Artzi, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yeshayahu (Shayke) Gavish, Racheli Ganot, Capt. (res.) Noam Gershoni, Margalit Zinati, Sheikh Mawafak Tarif, Prof. Marcel Machluf, Prof.
Aviezri Fraenkel, Israel Prize laureate and actress Leah Koenig, actor and director Ze’ev Revach, Dr. Avshalom Kor, Mai Korman and representatives of the Center for International Assistance and Cooperation at the Foreign Ministry and the Israeli Defense Forces.
Regev approved the list of the torch lighters, who were recommended by a public committee.
“These 14 wonders and marvels represent all segments of our people. In each and every one of them, we can find ourselves and the good in which we have been examined as individuals, as a people, and as a State,” she said.
“The State of Israel, only 70 years old, but we as a people have been blessed with a heritage of thousands of years alongside breakthrough innovation,” Regev said. “The women and men of many deeds, who were chosen to light torches on our holiday together create a diverse Israeli mosaic of voices and tastes, religious, secular, Jewish, Arab, young, old, women and men with special needs, [from the] Center and the periphery. The stories of the torchbearers are a fascinating puzzle that tell the story of Israeli society and constitute a rainbow of colors in our lives in this country.”
Artzi is a musician, composer and songwriter whose songs have become a part of the country’s national soundtrack. He became an outstanding symbol of the military band and upon his release he embarked on a musical career lasting more than four decades.
“Artzi, the son of Holocaust survivors, represents the legacy of the sons and daughters of the second generation, whose horrors have overshadowed their childhood, but instilled in them the courage to dream and create in our country,” the Culture Ministry said.
Gavish served as a senior officer in the Palmah and in the IDF. He is one of the founders of the IDF and of the Palmah Museum and today stands at the head of the nonprofit organization “Dor Palmah” (Generation of Palmah), which teaches the next generations about the legacy of the 1948 generation.
Gavish will light a torch together with a representative of the IDF to symbolize the defense of the State of Israel from 1948 to 2018.
Racheli Ganot is an ultra-Orthodox hi-tech CEO of Rachip, which acts towards integrating ultra-Orthodox women in the hi-tech industry.
Gershoni was a fighter pilot wounded in the Second Lebanon War who won a gold medal in tennis at the Paralympics in London in 2012.
Margalit Zinati was born in 1931 in Kfar Peki’in in the Galilee. She is part of an ancient Jewish family that has been preserving the Jewish community in the Galilee continuously since the days of the Second Temple.
Sheikh Mawafak Tarif is the spiritual leader of the Druse community in Israel, who was appointed to his post after the death of his grandfather. He is continuing the path of his grandfather who forged the blood pact between the Jews and Druse in Israel.
Machluf is dean of Biotechnology and Food Engineering and head of the Lab for Cancer Drug Delivery & Cell Based Technologies at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. Her innovative research has led to numerous breakthroughs that enable more accurate and focused treatment of cancer without harming healthy cells, using innovative biological technologies.
Frankel is one of the pioneers of computer science in Israel and part of the team that built “WEIZAC,” the first Israeli computer that was developed at the Weizmann Institute of Science. He is one of the architects of the idea behind the “Responsa Project” – the Global Jewish Database at Bar-Ilan University, which includes the full text of the Bible and its principal commentaries.
In 2014 his grandson Naftali Fraenkel was one of the three youth who were kidnapped and murdered by Hamas, sparking a war with Gaza.
Revach and Israel Prize winner and actress of the Habimah Theater Leah Koenig will light a torch together.
Korman is a high-school student with a hearing disability that developed a unique patent to prevent parents from forgetting their children in the car.
Kor is a linguist and an expert on Hebrew grammar and semantics. He is a known a radio personality who aims to bring the proper use of the Hebrew language to every household in Israel.
“The torch-lighting ceremony is the ceremony of the people, and there is no doubt in my heart that the torch lighters reflect our resilience and strength as a society and the beautiful faces of all parts of our people,” Regev said.
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