Jerusalem, Israel - June 23, 2024 - President Isaac Herzog presented the 'President's Award for Volunteerism 2024'  at a special event held at the Beit Hanasi in Jerusalem, Israel. 

This year, under the shadow of the ongoing conflict and following the events of October 7, the award was presented to 20 individuals, associations, and groups that demonstrated an exemplary spirit of volunteerism, and worked to strengthen the resilience of the Israeli Home Front. Additionally, due to the remarkable civil mobilization in the first weeks of the war, this year's award included a new category, established to recognize the contribution of reservist soldiers who operated in diverse fields.

The ‘President's Award for Volunteerism’ is an annual initiative that began 50 years ago, founded by Israel’s fourth president, the late Ephraim Katzir, in cooperation with the President's Residence and the Israeli Volunteering Council.

Two of the award-winning organizations were “Standing Together” and "Hashomer HaChadash." 

Immediately following October 7, Rabbi Shai Graucher began raising money and distributing it - to the survivors, their families, displaced people, soldiers, police officers, and the families of reservists. He created a registered nonprofit in Israel, Chessed v’Rachamim, and an affiliated 501(c)3 in the United States which has raised close to $10 million. The names of the organizations are known in Hebrew as Beyachad Nenatze’ach, meaning “Together we will win" or "Standing Together."

HaShomer HaChadash was founded in 2008 by Yoel Zilberman to reconnect a new generation to the land. Ensuring land and food security in Israel, and across the region is a stated goal. BJL shared a recent story of their new agriculture-based mechina receiving a Torah donated by an American family. Michael Eisenberg represented HaShomer HaChadash along with Zilberman. 

During the ceremony, President Isaac Herzog said, “In these challenging days, with so much heartbreak, it is a truly immense privilege to host you here, in the home of the Israeli people, at an event that highlights the hidden light of Israeli society — the light of initiative, giving, and mutual responsibility. This light, as the well-known saying goes, has the power to banish much of the darkness surrounding us - and how sorely we need your light at this time. And it's here - right here!

“Especially now, when so many rush to judge, when there's a lack of listening to one another and making personal attacks rather than addressing the issues at hand when social media is used irresponsibly - just to slander when all these have become a real plague on the nation - we provide an answer. Here and now. You all come from different places, you all live in different places—before the war, and even now, you all have different views and beliefs, but you all volunteered! You came and gave of yourselves for the sake of others during this difficult, even terrible, time that has befallen and continues to befall us. For this - your giving, volunteering, and mobilizing - during our hardest time, we award you today with the Presidential Award for Volunteerism.

“You represent the beautiful face of Israel, from you comes the light! Therefore, I am not willing to enter into unnecessary arguments - because only with the love of Israel will we overcome!

“Thank you, dear recipients. Thank you for the strength and inspiration you have given the entire nation during its hardest and also greatest time. We all hope for better days, days of good news, keep doing good.”

The diverse Israeli populations being recognized and honored for volunteerism at the event included Arabs, Druze, and Jews - all coming together with various projects to move forward in these difficult times.