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Three murdered Israeli boys remembered on Unity Day

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Thousands of people commemorated the first anniversary this Wednesday, of the kidnapping and murder of Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Sher and Naftali Frenkel by Palestinian terrorists near Gush Etzion. Special Unity Day events were held in 19 countries and over 30 cities, including Johannesburg and Durban.
by MICHAEL BELLING | Jun 03, 2015

Yeshiva College co-ordinated the event for schoolchildren and parents in Johannesburg, in which the SA Zionist Federation and other Jewish day schools participated - King David, Hirsch Lyons, Maharsha, Shaarei Torah and Torah Academy.  

Between the mincha and maariv services in the main Glenhazel Shul, tributes were paid to the three boys by Rabbi Avraham Tanzer, rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva College; Ben Swartz, chairman of the SAZF; and Rabbi Leron Bernstein, director of Yeshiva College. Children from the participating schools presented thoughts on unity, the theme of the event.

Two of the boys, Gilad Sher and Naftali Frenkel, attended the Mekor Chaim Yeshiva School near where they were kidnapped. Yeshiva College partners with Mekor Chaim in an exchange programme for grade 10 learners, with each school sending learners to study here and in Israel.

In Durban, the boys will be mentioned during shul services at the Umhlanga Jewish Day School.

At a reception at the residence of Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin, the Jerusalem Unity Prize in memory of the three boys was presented to four winners identified for their leadership roles in promoting Jewish unity in Israel and the Diaspora. The 100 000 shekel prize is to be awarded annually on the anniversary of the boys’ murder to a person or organisation working to unify Israeli society.

The prize is a joint initiative of the families of the boys and with the Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat and Gesher. The first prizewinners were: Israel-Diaspora, Chabad House of Bangkok, Thailand; social initiative, Nifgashim BeShvil Yisrael; and individual, Brigadier General (Ret) Ram Shmueli and Harav Chacham David Menachem.

Chabad House provides free services such as Shabbat meals, a place to relax, Internet access and assistance in cases of emergency to Jewish backpackers. Nifgashim BeShvil Yisrael is an annual hike along Shvil Israel (Israel Path) from Eilat to She’ar Yashuv, with the goal of reinforcing and deepening the sense of unity in Israeli society. 

Brigadier General (Ret) Ram Shmueli has been developing various frameworks which promote a joint future for Israeli society since his retirement from the IDF. Harav Chacham David Menachem uses music to combine different worlds such as poetry, liturgy, Jewish law and Zionism. He believes that music has the power to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A conference of Israeli and Diaspora leaders was also held in Jerusalem.

Other Israeli activities took place in schools, community centres and public venues across Israel, attracting hundreds of thousands of participants.

Similar events were held from Mumbai to Beijing, London to Montreal and Helsinki and Buenos Aires to Melbourne. 

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