Another incredible week in Jerusalem, Israel, as tens of thousands filled hotels and their buses made their way through the Jerusalem streets.
The Unity Prizes were awarded at Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence. With the Gesher Foundation and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, the Fraenkel, Ifrach and Shaar families initiated these awards four years ago.
The families of the three murdered teens Eyal, Yifrach, and Naftali z”l wanted to find a meaningful way to express their appreciation for the unity and support they felt during those difficult days.
The program was held in the main hall and included music and entertainment, with the families and prize winners filling the room.
Boca Florida won a prize for Jewish Engagement, unity in Jewish education. Representatives from Florida came to Jerusalem to receive their award.
Other winners were Runners without Borders, TEC Center, Koolulam, and a special Global life achievement went to Birthright.
Three video clips were included in last week’s Shabbat Shalom greeting. They can be seen HERE.
Soon after I left Beit Hanasi, there was another event in the gardens of OneFamily.
Photo ops with former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani were popular that night.
Giuliani was mayor at the time of September 11 terror attack. He spoke of dealing with victims of terror in the aftermath and emphasized the good and important work of OneFamily helping victims of terror in Israel.
Not all of his remarks would be considered politically correct, but here is one short clip on Arafat and the PLO.
Beit Hanasi, as usual, was a busy place all week. The presidential gardens were ready for numerous international guests.
The leadership of American Jewish Committee (AJC) lined up so politely to enter. Should I confess that I smiled and went in the other door to bypass the line?
At AJC closing plenary, one of the many faces of Israel, Ahlam Alsana, stressed the importance of education in her remarks.
For locals, it was the annual Shavuah Hasefer, Hebrew Book Week, again held in First Station. As every year, thousands of volumes were for sale, attracting young and old.
A volunteer student theater group performed as families gathered before the entry gate opened.
After their performance, confetti covered the ground and the actor/painter was back at his easel at work.
Another “you never know what you will find” scene for sure.
You never know what you will find at those end of school year performances filling schedules in June. Mega events, with professional staging and lights, lasting well into the night – for elementary school. Interesting, as college graduations in Israel are so low key compared to US.
The new Orient Hotel was the scene of a gala dinner celebrating the 80th year of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz and Steinsaltz Center contribution to education.
What other dinner gala featured a wall of impressive books, under the authorship of one person?
Rabbi Steinsaltz was escorted into the full banquet hall by his son and grandson.
Popular singer Avraham Fried gave a powerful performance.
The key note speaker was Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, who spoke about power and knowledge.
To end with some inspiration, take two minutes and listen to a brief clip from his insightful remarks.
So much is happening in Jerusalem.
Israel Festival has ended. Jerusalem Design Week has begun.
Then on June 27, begins another week of the annual Light Festival in the Old City.
But for this week if there was one overshadowing theme, it was that education is the key.
Education should be everyone’s birthright, not only the privileged.
Am Yisrael Chai.