Nir Barkat

Jerusalem: a symbol of Jewish unity

On Jerusalem Unity Day, the city's mayor Nir Barkat explains why he created the event

June 07, 2017 11:38

Since its founding, 3,000 years ago, Jerusalem has been a centre of openness and unity. When the people of Israel came to the Land of Israel, the land was divided among the tribes – except for the city of Jerusalem. Jerusalem belonged to all and people from all walks of life were shareholders in the city.

Since reuniting the city fifty years ago, Jerusalem has once again returned to the promise of its founding. All tribes feel welcome in our city and the gates of Jerusalem are open once more.

Three years ago, Israel and the Jewish people united as we waited to hear the fate of Gil-ad, Eyal, and Naftali, three abducted Israeli youths. During this incredibly difficult time, the Shaar, Yifrach, and Fraenkel families taught the entire world a remarkable lesson in courage. These families showed us that unity is a value that enables us to overcome even the greatest challenges.

I knew that we needed to do something to preserve the memories of Gil-ad, Eyal, and Naftali and to capture the unity of the Jewish people during this period. Together, we created the Jerusalem Unity Prize and Unity Day which has become an international phenomenon, being taught as a part of Israel's national curriculum and impacting over one million people across the globe.

Three years since its inception, the Jerusalem Unity Prize has spread a message of unity from Jerusalem across the world and become the eternal legacy of these three remarkable young men. This year, we have awarded the Jerusalem Unity Prize to four incredible initiatives and individuals who carry on the legacy of Gil-ad, Eyal, and Naftali. From a pool of 180 applicants, the prize committee elected to give the prize to Limmud, Tzav Piyus, Dr. Janaan Frajj Falah, and Kehillat Hadar in Haifa, which all work to unify and strengthen bonds between people.   

Like these three boys, Jerusalem, at its core, is a unifying city. Gil-ad, Eyal, and Naftali reminded us what the Jewish people is capable of when we embrace one another, refuse to give in to the forces of baseless hate, and continue to strengthen the forces of unity among the Jewish people. As we celebrate fifty years of a reunited Jerusalem, we celebrate Jerusalem as a unifying force and continue to work to promote the legacy of Gil-ad, Eyal, and Naftali. May their memory be for a blessing.

Nir Barkat is Mayor of Jeursalem.

Follow him on twitter @NirBarkat

June 07, 2017 11:38

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