Jerusalem, Israel - Feb. 11, 2018 - President Reuven Rivlin, Monday morning, February 11 / 6 Adar I, opened the BeSheva Group’s 16th Jerusalem Conference, entitled ‘Judaism, State, Economy, Modernity’. The conference deals with the range of issues on the public agenda in Israel. During the conference, and in the presence of the president, the Jerusalem Prize was awarded to the Director-General of Shaare Zedek Hospital, Prof. Jonathan Halevy and to veteran Israeli actor Chaim Topol. The president was introduced by the chair of the BeSheva Dudu Saada.  

The president began his remarks by commenting on the terrorist attack in which Ori Ansbacher ז"ל was killed, saying “I send my condolences to the Ansbacher family and to the whole community of Tekoa on the murder of Ori. Such terrifying cruelty is truly heartbreaking when one thinks of the life cut short in its prime. The pain is unbearable. Ori’s activities and the goodness of her heart are what should show us the way, I want to thank the security forces, whose concerted and determined efforts led to the capture of the despicable terrorist murderer. The State of Israel will not cease in the uncompromising fight against terrorism and those who carry it out. I want to ask the public as a whole to take great care not to be part of the spread of false and baseless rumors. No-one deserves to hear the fate of their loved ones on the media or through WhatsApp groups. Think of the parents, the family, the brothers and sisters, the people who are dealing not only with a terrible murder and a huge loss, but also a sick wave of rumors. For those who are mourning and in pain, let us wait for the facts to come out.”  

Speaking about the BeSheva Group, the president said, “It is a privilege to open the Jerusalem Conference, just as it is every year, and there are three reasons I do so with such joy. Firstly, to thank those behind the weekly newspaper ‘BeSheva’, the Arutz 7 website which is watched all over the world and Arutz 7 radio:  Rebbitzen Shulamit and Rabbi Zalman Melamed, my friend Katzale – Yaakov Katz, Dudu Saada and the many others who share the burden and ensure that a different voice is part of the conversation. Well done! Secondly, because I am happy to celebrate Jerusalem. I am invited to many conferences along the coast. The organizers of the Jerusalem Conference love Jerusalem and make it the focus of their celebration. Thirdly, because in today’s media of tweets and posts, soundbites and killer sentences, Instagram and a single image with an exclamation mark, when public discourse is getting more superficial and background noise is getting louder – every conference of this kind is a point of light.” 

The president also referred to the elections, saying “we are in the midst of election season and these are tense times. The party leaders are asking for the citizens’ trust, and many of them will be here at the conference. I ask them to show us their best sides, not to speak badly of others and not to stir up the flames of discord. Show us your achievements and your plans. This is the right way, the way that is best for the country. Remember that the day after the elections, you will need to sit together and work in your own ways for the public and for the country.”  

President Rivlin noted that ‘in the weekly Torah portion, Tetzaveh, the twelve stones of the high priest’s breastplate are mentioned, and on then the twelve tribes. He wears the names of all twelve of the tribes of Israel on his chest. Israeli society cannot ignore any one of the elements that makes it up, and cannot give up on any one of its people. Each tribe must be part of the conversation, say what it has to say and contribute its part, and – most importantly – listen to the other tribes. We must conduct the conversation wisely, taking care not to give too strong a voice to the margins and stifle the common ground.”  

Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion and Knesset Member Aryeh Deri were also featured at the opening session. The two day Jerusalem Conference, held at the Jerusalem Crowne Plaza Hotel, will host a long list of Israeli dignitaries and award honorees, including Head of Machon Puah Rav Menahem Borstein, Shalva founder Kalman Samuels, Rebbitzen Miriam Levinger, MK Yuli Edelstein, MK Naftali Bennett, MK Yoav Glanz, MK Avigdor Liberman, MK Yaakov Litzman,  MK Zeev Elkin, MK Micky Levy,  Gideon Saar, Yitzhak Herzog, and performer Shuli Rand.