Jerusalem Unity Prize going to Limmud and first non-Jewish winner
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Jerusalem Unity Prize going to Limmud and first non-Jewish winner

Prize was developed in 2015 mayor Nir Barkat, along with the Fraenkel, Shaer and Ifrach families in memory of their slain sons

Audience members applaud during a Limmud FSU (former Soviet Union) session in footage from a video celebrating ten years of the conference's existence. (Screen capture/YouTube)
Audience members applaud during a Limmud FSU (former Soviet Union) session in footage from a video celebrating ten years of the conference's existence. (Screen capture/YouTube)

The Jerusalem Unity Prize named Limmud, the international network of Jewish learning communities, and its first non-Jewish winner.

The winners of the prize, launched in 2015 in memory of three slain Israeli teenagers, were announced Wednesday.

Limmud was awarded in the Diaspora category, while Dr. Janaan Frajj Falah, who has worked to advance initiatives that bridge social gaps between women of diverse backgrounds in Israel’s North, was one of two winners in the local category. Falah was joined by Kehilat Hadar, based in Haifa, which promotes social and cultural harmony between local groups of various religions and ethnicities.

The national prize winner is Tzav Pius, a group that works to bridge the religious-secular divide in Israel.

Bat-Galim Shaer, Iris Yifrach and Racheli Fraenkel with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat at launch event for Jerusalem Unity Prize in January 2015. (Hadas Parush)
Bat-Galim Shaer, Iris Yifrach and Racheli Fraenkel with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat at launch event for Jerusalem Unity Prize in January 2015. (Hadas Parush)

The Jerusalem Unity Prize was developed in 2015 by the city’s mayor, Nir Barkat, together with the Fraenkel, Shaer and Ifrach families and Gesher, in memory of Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaer and Eyal Ifrach, who were abducted from a West Bank bus stop on June 12, 2014, and later found slain following a massive search.

The prizes will be awarded June 7 at a ceremony hosted at the residence of Israel’s president, Reuven Rivlin. The day also marks Global Jewish Unity Day, with commemorations and educational events taking place all over the world.

Limmud, which was founded in the United Kingdom in 1980, has spread to 84 communities in 44 countries on six continents. In 2016, its 4,000 volunteers produced 74 Jewish learning festivals around the world, which drew over 40,000 people.

The three Israeli teens, from L-R: Eyal Yifrach, 19; Naftali Fraenkel, 16; and Gil-ad Shaar, 16 (photo credit: Courtesy)
The three Israeli teens, from L-R: Eyal Yifrach, 19; Naftali Fraenkel, 16; and Gil-ad Shaar, 16 (photo credit: Courtesy)

“We are grateful for this meaningful honor,” said its chair, David Hoffman, in a statement announcing the prize. “Limmud promotes Jewish unity by offering an inclusive cross-communal space for Jews of all ages and backgrounds to meet, learn, volunteer and build community. Unity is created by Jews working together to build their community and create a dynamic Jewish future, which is embodied by what Limmud does.”

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