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From right to left, Leah Palmer, Director at Hakhel, Hakhel General Director Aharon Ariel Lavi, Knesset Member Nir Barkat, Uri and Iris Yifrach. Photo credit: Mark Neiman, Government Press Office.
Hakhel Awarded Prestigious Jerusalem Unity Prize
On June 2, 2020, Hakhel, the Jewish Intentional Communities Incubator, was awarded the Jerusalem Unity Prize in the international category. Hakhel, a project of Hazon, the Jewish Lab for Sustainability, received the prize for its relentless work to cultivate emerging Jewish communities all over the world and forge the connection between them and the State of Israel. The prize was awarded in a special ceremony at Israeli President Reuven Rivlin’s residence. Rivlin is well known for his long-standing efforts to bring the different “tribes” of Israeli society together, as well as world Jewry.
At the ceremony, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said, “These days, while we are experiencing a health crisis that has both social and economic consequences, we are again being pushed to ask ourselves whether we respect each other. Is the connection between us strong enough to bring this period to an end, safely? The Unity Day, and the Jerusalem Unity Award, pay tribute to the wonderful organizations, men and women who devote their time to promoting unity. The Jewish world is lucky to have people like you.”
Founded in 2014, Hakhel, which operates in partnership with Israel’s Ministry of Diaspora Affairs, is the first and largest global incubator for Jewish intentional communities, comprising over 130 communities in 30 different countries. Its mission is to spark and support new expressions of Jewish life around the world by nurturing the growth of intentional communities with the help of advisors, seed funding and network building.
Hakhel General Director Aharon Ariel Lavi stated, “We are deeply honored to receive the Jerusalem Unity Award. Fostering Jewish connections among Jews around the world and Israel is a cornerstone of Hakhel’s work, especially in this time of crisis, and as shown by our more than 130 intentional communities worldwide. We look forward to continuing to spark and support new expressions of Jewish life around the world in the years to come.”
The Jerusalem Unity Prize is given to individuals, organizations, and initiatives in Israel and throughout the Jewish world whose actions are instrumental in advancing mutual respect for others amongst the Jewish people, during crises and in daily life. The ceremony this year was not open to the public, but will be broadcast online.
A special public committee selected the winners of the 2020 award. The committee included former Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, chairman of the award committee, Isaac “Bougie” Herzog, Natan Sharansky, Kobi Oz, Brig. Gen. (res.) Amal Assad, Noam Lautman, Rabbi Shai Piron, Israel Goldshmid, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, David Menachem, Karin Mayer Rubinstein, Shlomi Yehiav, and the Yifrach, Shaar, and Fraenkel families. The prize was created to memorialize Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Fraenkel who were murdered by Palestinian terrorists in 2014.
“This year, we chose the winners in the midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic, during which we felt the need to care for each other more, and make sure we all get through this time safely. As a result of these sentiments, we selected this year’s winners which inspire us all with their daily work for the unity of our people, in Israel and around the world,” said Knesset Member Nir Barkat, the former mayor of Jerusalem and co-founder of the Jerusalem Unity Prize.
Hakhel will dedicate a substantial part of its monetary prize to conduct a global campaign to honor and support communities that fought on the social frontlines during the COVID-19 pandemic and are now figuring out how to prepare for the aftermath of the crisis.