Jewish National Fund (JNF-USA) has announced the top four winners of the first-ever JerusaLens Jerusalem Photo Challenge held in honor of the upcoming 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem.
Winning the title of “Top Photographer” along with the $5,000 grand prize is David Mor from the central Israeli city of Ramat Gan, followed by Dalia Rajuan of Kiryat Ono for “Top Photo,” and Six-Day War veteran paratrooper Ariel Lavanon for “Guru’s Top Pick.” Sixteen year-old-year Manny Cohen of New Rochelle, won the bonus challenge held on Instagram as “JNF Young Photographer” using the hashtag #Jerusalem50photo.
Similar to other photo challenges held in various international cities like Paris, London, and New York, the JerusaLens Jerusalem Photo Challenge surpassed expectations, coming in second to London at 2.4 million in total public votes.
“Jerusalem is a source of inspiration for billions of people around the world,” commented Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat. “I want to extend my thanks to each and every participant who shared their unique images of Jerusalem with the world. This historic photo challenge has showcased the beauty, diversity, and rich history of our city.”
“Jerusalem is mine and yours, it belongs to all of us; it is a city which tells a universal story,” remarked Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in his letter inviting individuals to take part in the photo contest. “Therefore, in the spirit of longing and prayer for the peace of Jerusalem, I am pleased to join the important and welcome work of creating an impressive collection of the very best photographs of Jerusalem. So that we can all see the strength of Jerusalem, the strength of unity which we see through our eyes and with our hearts,” he added.
“The success of the JerusaLens Jerusalem Photo Contest is astonishing, and Jewish National Fund-USA is proud to have been a partner in its success,” said Jewish National Fund National President Jeffrey E. Levine. “For centuries, civilizations around the world have looked toward Jerusalem as the center of the world, and this is all the more evident with the thousands of unique pictures received displaying the myriad nationalities, religions, and creeds that this City of Gold represents.”
Rajuan and Lavanon will each receive a sum prize of $2,225, while Cohen will received $500 in addition to an all-expense paid flight to Israel courtesy of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs to attend the opening ceremony of the JerusaLens photo exhibit at Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem. Ammunition Hill is the historical site of the intense battle where 36 Israelis and 71 Jordanians were killed during the 1967 Six-Day War leading to Jerusalem’s reunification and liberation of the Old City.
“I applaud each of the contestant winners for their well-deserved recognition on behalf of the Israeli nation,” said Alon Wald, head of operations at Ammunition Hill National Memorial Site, and the son of Rami Wald, an IDF soldier who fell in the pivotal battle for the strategic hilltop. “I salute each of our winners as well as the ongoing efforts by JNF-USA in its support of Israel, Jerusalem, and the unwavering enhancement in the link and bond to Jerusalem between future generations of Jewish people all over the world.”
The JerusaLens Jerusalem Photo Challenge was open to people from all countries and nationalities, with submission from over 14,500 photo submissions from 70 countries world-wide by the end of the contest. Submissions were judged by Wald and a panel of award-winning Israeli photographers, and the 100 best selected photographs are to be placed on exhibit at Ammunition Hill for public viewing.
May 24, 2017 will mark the 50th anniversary of Jerusalem’s reunification, and to celebrate this auspicious occasion, hundreds of delegates from JNF’s 50th Anniversary of Jerusalem’s Reunification Mission will gather at Ammunition Hill for an exclusive national ceremony with top Israeli dignitaries, IDF soldiers, and other special guests.