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10th Anniversary of Yeshiva Students' Murder to Be Honored with Jerusalem Unity Prize

Honoring a Decade of Unity and Remembrance.

Ten years ago, the tragic kidnapping and murder of three teenage yeshiva students, Eyal Yifrah, Gil-Ad Shaer, and Naftali Fraenkel, shocked the nation. These young boys, on their way home, mistakenly got into a car with terrorists disguised as Orthodox Jews. One of them managed to send a desperate message to his parents, but it was the last communication they ever received.

The entire nation, gripped with anxiety and hope, held prayer meetings across Israel and the globe, yearning for the boys' safe return. Sadly, their prayers were unanswered. The boys were murdered shortly after their abduction, leaving a profound impact on the Israeli society.

This heartbreaking event, however, ignited an extraordinary wave of unity. Then-Mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, alongside the boys' families, harnessed this collective strength to create a lasting tribute to their memory. Thus, the National Day of Unity and the accompanying Jerusalem Unity Prize were established at the President’s Residence, a tradition that has now been enshrined into law.

Every year, volunteer organizations that foster unity and harmony within society are honored with the Jerusalem Unity Prize by the President of Israel. This year's ceremony, particularly poignant against the backdrop of recent events since October 7, echoed with morale-boosting messages of solidarity and resilience. President Isaac Herzog, Minister of Economy and Industry Nir Barkat, and Education Minister Yoav Kisch emphasized the theme of collective strength, encapsulated in the ceremony's motto, "Caring for One Another."

The awards categories this year were distinctly influenced by the current security challenges, focusing on Strengthening the South, Strengthening the North, and Strengthening the Home Front, Reservists, and the Diaspora. This focus underscores Israel’s resolve and unity in the face of adversity.

President Herzog highlighted the nation's priority of bringing back all hostages, celebrating the recent rescue operation while honoring the sacrifice of Arnon Zmora, whose bravery added his name to Israel's heroes.

This year's recipients include Aharai, an organization promoting youth leadership and civic participation; Kerem el-Druze, a pre-military academy for young Druze leaders; and Yedidim, known for its volunteers who assist in non-medical emergencies. Heroes for Life supports discharged soldiers and their communities, while Partnership2Gether Global Network, a Jewish Agency initiative, strengthens Jewish identity across 75 Diaspora communities.

Special recognition was given to the Menomadin Foundation for its work in social resilience through education and welfare, and to singer Omer Adam for his dedication to entertaining troops and supporting soldiers against Hamas and Hezbollah.

Ofir Shaer, father of the late Gil-Ad, poignantly spoke about how personal crises in Israel often evolve into national ones, reflecting the deep interconnectedness of Israeli society.

Israel stands united in honoring the memory of Eyal, Gil-Ad, and Naftali, celebrating the unity that emerged from tragedy and continues to inspire the nation. Share this article or subscribe to our newsletter to keep up with the latest stories of unity and strength in Israel.