A prize to promote national unity and memorialize three Israeli teens abducted and killed in the West Bank in June was unveiled by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and the families of the three victims Monday.
The Jerusalem Prize for National Unity will award an annual NIS100,000 ($28,000) grant to initiatives dedicated to strengthening the sense of collective identity in Israel, Barkat’s office said in a statement.
The award is being sponsored by the Gesher Foundation and the UJA Federation of New York.
Naftali Fraenkel, 16, Gil-ad Shaar, 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19, were kidnapped by Hamas-linked terrorists on the night of June 12 at a hitchhiking post south of Jerusalem and killed soon afterwards. Their bodies were discovered June 30 in Halhul, near Hebron in the West Bank, after an 18-day search.
Barkat said he was inspired to establish the fund after paying condolence visits to the teens’ families earlier in the year.
“These families have become a symbol of steadfastness, faith, prayer and unity for all people,” he said in a statement.
“Jerusalem is the most appropriate venue for initiative, as it is the city that symbolizes the unity of the nation of Israel.”
Bat Galim Sha’ar, the mother of Gil-Ad Sha’ar, said she was excited about the initiative and sees the prize as an opportunity to empower social action that will preserve unity in Israel in light of the tense summer.
Rachelle Fraenkel, mother of Naftali Fraenkel, emphasized that the prize will facilitate unity between all parts of Israeli society as well as Jews from the Diaspora.
The Jerusalem Prize for National Unity will be awarded on the anniversary of the teens’ death within a framework of an annual conference dedicated to various educational and social projects.
A committee composed of Barkat, Gesher Foundation President Rabbi Dr. Daniel Topper, family representatives and other public figures will choose the prizewinners, Barkat’s office said.