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Israeli City Mayors Convene to Launch 2017 Global Jewish Unity Initiative

Jerusalem—With the call for nominations for the third annual Jerusalem Unity Prize under way, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat has brought together a coalition of mayors from diverse cities across Israel to highlight the need for unity in the country.

Barkat was joined by mayors Ron Huldai of Tel Aviv, Rafik Chalabi of Dalit Al-Carmel, Rubik Danielevitch of Beer Sheva, Chaim Bibas of Modiin-Maccabim Reut and Moshe Abutbul of Beit Shemesh to launch Unity Day 2017 activities. Mayor Barkat highlighted the need for unity amongst Israelis and the Jewish community around the world and encouraged nominations and applications for the 300,000 NIS in prizes. Applications can be submitted until January 5, 2017at www.unityprize.org.

Launched in 2015, the Jerusalem Unity Prize and Unity Day, scheduled this year for June 7, 2017, is an initiative spearheaded by Mayor Barkat and Gesher to memorialize Naftali Fraenkel, Gil-ad Shaer and Eyal Ifrach, the three youths whose kidnapping and murders served as a catalyst for unprecedented national and international unity in the summer of 2014.

The award is presented annually on Unity Day in June to individuals, organizations and initiatives that unite peoples of different backgrounds and perspectives to work towards a common goal. Over 1.5 million people have participated in international events and commemorations on Unity Day since the project was first launched.

Mayor Barkat welcomed the involvement of his fellow mayors in publicizing the 2017 program: “The Unity Prize’s broad support from mayors across the country is a testament to its success in unifying the people of Israel. The Unity Prize ensures that the events of the summer of 2014 and the memories of the three boys will continue to inspire action in Jerusalem, Israel and the global community.”

Past nominees have included unity initiatives that focus on sport, outdoor activities, lectures, outreach and education programs. Individual programs and initiatives across the world have spanned all ages and all religious backgrounds.

The Jerusalem Unity Prize is awarded in three categories—local, national and global. Each prize category can apply either to an Israeli or international initiative and will be awarded a prize of up to 100,000 NIS. Some past winners have included the Global School Twinning Network, Hapoel Katamon Football Club, Nifgashim B’Shvil Yisrael (Meeting on the Israel Trail) and Chabad House in Bangkok, Thailand.

“It’s inspiring to see activities and programs taking place around the world—from Australia and South Africa to the small towns in Russia—working to bring the Jewish community closer together,” said Gila Brill, Director of International Initiatives for Unity Day. “Hundreds of applications have been submitted in the past two years and we look forward to reviewing this year’s contributions reflecting the growing commitment to our people’s unity.”

The prize winner is selected by a committee of top public and social figures chaired by Mayor Barkat and composed of Former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, Chair of the Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky, Former Chief Rabbi of the UK Lord Jonathan Sacks, Gesher Founder Rabbi Dr. Danny Tropper, Former Minister of Education Professor Yuli Tamir, Rabbi Yitzchak David Grossman, entertainer Kobi Oz and the Fraenkel, Shaer and Ifrach families.

Amal Assad, a senior figure in the Druze community and a strong advocate for social unity, has also been selected to join the committee for the 2017 prize. In accepting the nomination to the committee, Mr. Assad said, “Unity does not mean uniformity—rather it is the ideal that inspires us to live in respect with one another despite our differences.”

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