Over One Million Expected to Participate in Unity Day Marking First Anniversary of Murder of Gilad, Eyal and Naftali

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uOn the first anniversary of the tragic abduction and murder of three Israeli teens last summer, Jewish individuals and communities around the world will come together for an unprecedented event to take place on 16 Sivan 5775 (June 3rd, 2015).

Unity Day, #UnityDay was developed by the parents of the three boys, Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Frenkel HY”D , together with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and Gesher. Planning for Unity Day has already attracted the participation of organizations encompassing over one million people in Israel and throughout the Diaspora.

“The kidnappings of our boys marks one of the more difficult moments in Israel’s modern history. But the reality is that out of this bitter tragedy came a spirit of unprecedented unity amongst the Jewish people,” the parents said in a joint statement. “Our commitment is to ensure that this sense of unity remains alive – this is the mission of Unity Day.”

Unity Day is part of the Jerusalem Unity Prize, a major project launched together with Mayor Barkat and Gesher. The Prize, which will be awarded at a special ceremony on 16 Sivan at the official residence of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, highlights the accomplishments of Jewish activists and organizations working to promote greater unity in Israel and the Diaspora. A special committee of communal leaders from across Israel and the Diaspora was chosen to work with the Mayor and the three families to identify worthy recipients.

“Unity is an ideal which is so often spoken of but far less often put into practice,” said Mayor Barkat. “Following the tragedy of these three boys, our nation saw the potential that exists when we put our differences aside and work towards building bridges within our greater Jewish community. This prize works to keep that message alive and serves as a lasting tribute to the memories of Gil-ad, Eyal and Naftali in a way that will bring great pride to Jerusalem, to Israel and to the Jewish people.”

Unity Day will engage participants of all ages in a specially designed curriculum and activities that aim to educate and challenge the Jewish world on ways to promote greater cohesion. “There is no disputing that while the Jewish people have so much in common with one another, there are bitter divisions within the greater community and this is a phenomenon which must be addressed and internalized by the younger generation as a challenge which needs to be dealt with,” says Anat Schwarz Weil, Director of the Jerusalem Unity Prize.

The Jerusalem Unity Prize and Unity Day are being made possible thanks to the support of Robert and Amy Book, Ronnen Harary, David and Sarena Koschitzky, Ira and Ingeborg Rennert, Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein, and the UJA Federation of New York.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)