The President’s Award of Distinction made its debut on Thursday, with President Shimon Peres bestowing the prize upon six recipients who are “role models for initiative, innovation, creativity and vision.”
The medal was handed out to five individuals and one organization, chosen by former president Yitzhak Navon and former Supreme Court president Meir Shamgar.
Zubin Mehta, the world-renowned conductor and the director of the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra, received the award for the way he portrays Israel to the world.
Ory Slonim, now head of Variety Israel, was honored with the award for his continued efforts to assist the families of missing soldiers. Over the years Slonim has been active in various fields, helping hundreds of thousands of disabled children around the world through his work at the Variety charity for children.
Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, who received the Israel Prize in 1988, was presented the award for his contribution to the study of Talmud, making it accessible to Jews worldwide.
Not only Israelis were honored by Peres. Henry Kissinger received the medal for his help in brokering the cease-fire between Israel and Egypt. Judy Feld Carr, a Canadian human rights activist, was recognized for her efforts to free Jewish prisoners from Muslim and Arab countries around the world.
The only organization to receive the award was the Rashi Foundation, an organization promoting equal education opportunities and working to narrow the social gaps between Israelis of different backgrounds.
The President’s Award of Distinction was established to honor “individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the State of Israel or to humanity, through their talents, services, or in any other form.”