Jerusalem Unity Prize and Hillel International Launch New Award for Student Innovators



March 23, 2016

The Jerusalem Unity Prize, together with Hillel International, has announced the launch of the Jerusalem Unity Prize for Young Leadership to be awarded to student leaders working on their campuses to advance Jewish unity.

The Prize will be officially awarded in Jerusalem as part of Unity Day commemorations on June 1, in the presence of the Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat. The award will salute “the spirit of innovation and commitment to bridging gaps within the Jewish world amongst the younger generation.”

The Jerusalem Unity Prize was first launched in 2015 by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat together with GESHER and the families of Naftali Fraenkel, Gil-ad Shaer and Eyal Ifrach – the three Israeli teens who were kidnapped and murdered in the summer of 2014. The events surrounding their deaths provided an unprecedented catalyst for global Jewish unity that the families chose to commemorate through the development of the award.

“This new award, as part of the Jerusalem Unity Prize, will serve to further the goal of uniting the Jewish people around the globe.” Mayor Nir Barkat said. “By recognizing these student leaders, we are empowering young people to take it upon themselves to create a brighter Jewish future.”

“This new award is intended to highlight unity initiatives specifically on campuses which traditionally serve as centers of communal activity,” said Anat Schwarz Weil, Director of the Jerusalem Unity Prize. “We know that these campuses will foster the Jewish leaders of tomorrow and together with Hillel we believe it is important that Jewish unity be highlighted as an ideal that is integral towards creating a better Jewish future.”

Eric D. Fingerhut, CEO & President of Hillel International said, “Hillel International is proud to join Jerusalem Unity Prize in launching this award to further Jewish unity on college campuses and beyond. The families of Eyal, Gil-ad, and Naftali have experienced an indescribable tragedy and are using it to create a blessing for the whole Jewish people. This is an important model and lesson for our next generation.”

The award, to be chosen by a Committee including the Jerusalem Mayor, Bat-Galim and Ofir Shaer, parents of Gil-ad and Eric D. Fingerhut, will be granted to the candidate or organization whose submission best reflects a commitment to the ideals of bridging gaps within Jewish society and implementing them in an active manner. The winner, either an individual or a student group, will receive $5,000 as well as transportation costs to attend the awards ceremony in Jerusalem.

“Unity is an ideal which has spanned thousands of years of Jewish history and this award will ensure that its importance is carried on to the next generation,” the parents of the boys said, in a joint statement. “Continuing that legacy is the most appropriate tribute to our sons as a way to both educate and inspire Jews all over the world.”

Candidates for the prize are invited to submit their applications online, at Deadline for submissions is April 7, 2016.

About Unity Prize
The Jerusalem Unity Prize, now in its second year, was created by Mayor Nir Barkat to promote unity among the Jewish people.  The award was conceived with the Shaer, Fraenkel and Ifrach families in memory of their sons Gil-ad, Naftali and, whose kidnappings and subsequent murders became a turning point in Jewish communal relations bringing together Jews of all backgrounds in an unprecedented display of solidarity. In partnership with GESHER, the award was designed to harness that spirit of national unity and inspire continued work to bridge divides within the greater Jewish community.

About Hillel International
Founded in 1923, Hillel has been enriching the lives of Jewish students for more than 90 years. Today, Hillel International is a global organization that welcomes students of all backgrounds and fosters an enduring commitment to Jewish life, learning and Israel. 

Hillel is dedicated to enriching the lives of Jewish students so that they may enrich the Jewish people and the world. As the largest Jewish student organization in the world, 

Hillel builds connections with emerging adults at more than 550 colleges and universities, and inspires them to direct their own path. During their formative college years, students are challenged to explore, experience, and create vibrant Jewish lives.