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WATCH: Israel Prize Ceremony commences on Independence Day

CM 15/04/2021

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Israel’s long-awaited Israel Prize ceremony began at around 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Israel’s Independence Day.

The ceremony was held at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem, and attended by President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin, as well as Chief Justice Esther Hayut and Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion. Education Minister Yoav Gallant opened the ceremony, calling for unity for “the days after the pandemic” which “will bring new challenges.” The granting of the prize on Independence Day is not accidental, Gallant said, adding that it highlights Israel’s evolution and strength, that it comes from its evolution and people. This is the first year, the hosts noted, where the prize is equally given to men and women: four to men, four to women, adding up to the final eight. The first recipient was noted biblical scholar Prof. Yair Zakovitch, for Bible Studies, followed by Prof. Ariela Lowenstein for her groundbreaking studies in gerontology and criminology. “In his essays[, Zakovitch] developed a special method for identifying interrelationships between the books of the Bible, through word games and weaving motifs,” the Israel Prize Committee said when they granted him his prize. A musical performance followed by singer Shai Tsabari and Eden Alene, Israel’s representative to the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest.

Israelis gathered in real-time for Israel's 2021 Israel Prize Ceremony, which took place on Independence Day, April 15, 2021. (Credit: AMIR YAKOBY)Israelis gathered in real-time for Israel’s 2021 Israel Prize Ceremony, which took place on Independence Day, April 15, 2021. (Credit: AMIR YAKOBY)Next was Michal Bat-Adam, noted filmmaker. When she stepped up to receive her prize, said she was “sad, because there are only four and four of us tonight, we’re missing one.” Zarchi was presumably referring to the vetoing of the award by Gallant to mathematics Prof. Oded Goldreich last week due to his pro-BDS stances. The vetoing was ruled in favor by the High Court. Singer Hanan Ben-Ari followed with a rendition of his popular hit “Aluf HaOlam.“The next recipient was Prof. Eli Keshet for his research in life sciences, particularly in how new blood vessels get created when there is a shortage of oxygen in the body. His research could affect the understanding of diseases in the retina, as well as of various cancers. University of Haifa’s Prof. Nitza Ben Dov followed, winning the prize for Hebrew Literature. She is known for pioneering comparative research on new and ancient Hebrew literature. She is also credited for making Hebrew literature works accessible to readers everywhere. Indie band Jane Bordeaux then graced the crowd with a rendition of her cover of “Erev Shel Shoshanim.”Next was author and poet Nurit Zarchi, “a wondrous and rare voice in the world of Hebrew literature,” according to the prize committee.  “If it takes a village to raise a child,” Zarchi said, “it takes a nation to publish a book.” The last recipient was former Foreign Ministry legal adviser Joseph Ciechanover, who received his prize along with former-ZAKA head Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, who gave the prize up after sexual assault allegations were renewed against him.Professor Lowenstein delivered a speech on behalf of all the recipients, saying: “The prize is a standard of excellence, excellence being a Jewish value.”Each recipient has stamped Jewish history and Israeli society with their individuality and creativity,” she said “these achievements have carried us forward.”We all need to work towards solidarity in Israeli society,” she instructed.She continued, addressing the importance of the nation’s social workers, highlighting all that they have done for the mental health of Israelis, especially during the coronavirus. Addressing her research, and identifying herself as part of the community of elderly Israelis, Lowenstein added that “there is no Israel, no original pioneers, without this generation” who have “experienced a challenging and lonely time over the past year.”We celebrate the triumph of spirit.”

Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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