Jerusalem, Israel - June 9, 2024  - President Isaac Herzog on Sunday afternoon, presented at a special ceremony at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, the awards for the Jerusalem Unity Prize 2024. Due to the ongoing war, the ceremony was themed “Caring For One Another”, with the prizes distributed in five categories: Strengthening the South, Strengthening the North, Strengthening the Home Front, Reservists, and the Diaspora.

The Jerusalem Prize for the Unity of Israel was initiated by the Yifrach, Shaer, and Fraenkel families with former Jerusalem Mayor MK Nir Barkat, stemming from the deep sense of unity felt throughout Israeli society and the Jewish Diaspora following the kidnapping and murder of their sons Eyal, Gil-Ad, and Naftali in the summer of 2014.

Addressing the ceremony, President Herzog said, “We stand in the midst of a significant Israeli and Jewish moment. Facing a murderous enemy who thought Israeli society was fragmented and decided to rise up and kill us. Israeli society responded with a clear and decisive call: "Together we will win" – and only together. The people of Israel do not regard this statement as merely a catchphrase, a billboard slogan, or a car sticker — but as a binding historical truism that brought hundreds of thousands of Israelis out of their homes. It brought out soldiers who were not even called to service, it brought out volunteers to the field, it brought out the very best in so many in Israel.”

He added, “The outpouring of emotions and tears of joy we saw yesterday, across the entire nation and country proves beyond a doubt: Israeli society is not indifferent, Israeli society does not forget, Israeli society is wholly committed to bringing our sons and daughters back home. ‘The redemption of captives is a Mitzvah of the highest order,’ and their return — by both security and diplomatic means — is a supreme command, part of the most binding contract between the state and its citizens. Yesterday, we witnessed an extraordinary demonstration of this commitment, in the form of an operation that was all about heroism, bravery, and mutual responsibility, to bring back four of the hostages. This operation also came at a heavy price, as Arnon Zamora’s name was added to the monument of our nation’s heroism, an Israeli hero who sacrificed his life for the return of Shlomi, Andrey, Almog, and Noa. I send my deepest condolences to his dear family.

Our security forces deserve immense appreciation for their success, but no less for their determination and dedication, even when their actions are mostly hidden from view. In the IDF, police, YAMAM, and Shin Bet, there are hundreds and thousands of true role models, on the battlefield and behind the scenes, working every second of the day to free the hostages. I send much strength to them, and all the women and men of our security forces and their commanders, and I pray that they succeed in their missions and return safely.”

The award for “Strengthening the South” was presented to Aharai, whose mission is to nurture youth leadership development and promote civic participation among teens and young adults in Israel, especially in marginalized communities in the country’s social and geographic periphery.

The award for “Strengthening the North” was presented to Kerem-El Druze Pre-Military Academy, which works to develop a generation of young, dynamic, and energetic leaders impacting the community and society in general.

The award for “Strengthening the Home Front” was presented to the Yedidim Organization, which provides "non-medical first response" for citizens in distress: on the road and at home, 24 hours a day.

The award for work in the category of “Reservists” was presented to Heroes for Life (Lochamim LeLo Gvulot), an Israeli non-profit organization working to leverage the vast infrastructure of hundreds of thousands of discharged Israeli soldiers traveling to developing countries.  

The award for work in the category of Diaspora affairs was presented to Partnership2Gether Global Network, which works to promote and develop deep connections to strengthen Jewish communities in Israel and worldwide by creating revitalized, ongoing, and meaningful engagement based on mutual endeavor and shared Jewish identity.

In addition, two Awards of Recognition were given to the Menomadin Foundation for its work to promote social resilience in education, welfare, and community, and to singer Omer Adam for his outstanding work to strengthen the morale of the soldiers of the IDF and security forces.

Several Israel Members of the Knesset attended, and Economy Minister Nir Barkat spoke of unity in relation to the upcoming holiday of Shavuot. Education Minister Yoav Kirsch spoke very briefly and as usual one of the parents of the three boys spoke on behalf of the three families.

The two singers from The Shalva Band received a standing ovation after their performance.