Adina Bar-Shalom, the daughter of the late Rabbi Ovadia Yosef — the spiritual leader of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party — will be awarded the Israel Prize in the category of “lifetime achievement” for her trailblazing efforts in advancing higher education in the Haredi community, Education Minister Shai Piron announced on Tuesday.
Businessman Avi Naor, who founded the Or Yarok Association for Safer Driving after losing his son in a traffic accident, was also announced as the winner of the Israel Prize Lifetime Achievement Award for 2014.
Bar-Shalom is the founder of the Haredi College of Jerusalem, an institution of higher learning tailored for the ultra-Orthodox population, offering separate classes for men and women and a curriculum adapted to the religious beliefs of the students. The school was backed by Bar-Shalom’s father, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, himself an Israel Prize laureate. In 1970, Yosef was the recipient of the award for his contributions to Jewish legal writings.
“Through her conviction, Bar-Shalom led projects through which members of the Haredi community acquire an education alongside their religious studies as a means of social mobility and integration into the workforce,” the announcement read. “She managed to navigate the choppy waters of opposing worldviews and fierce disagreements and offer a significant social contribution.”
“I’m very moved. The decision surprised me and I am thankful to those that chose me,” Bar-Shalom told Ynet.
“When my father received the prize, I was six years old, and I told myself I wish my father would be proud of me for doing something good and caring for others,” she added. Yosef died in November 2013.
Regarding Naor’s contributions, the businessman was praised for being “a founding father of Israeli high-tech” who “invests in a wide range of groundbreaking social activities, for at-risk teens and disadvantaged populations.”
The Israel Prize is the country’s most prestigious award. The prize is presented in an official state ceremony on Israel’s Independence Day, presided over by the president, prime minister, Knesset speaker and Supreme Court president.
David Shamah contributed to this report.