Jun 27, 2018
Jewish Unity Day Celebrates Community’s Prestigious International Jerusalem Unity Prize
Once again, a vibrant crowd from every corner of Jewish South Palm Beach County came together in testament and celebration of the strength and joy of this remarkable, united Jewish community. With 1,400 Jewish community leaders and members gathered in FAU’s Carole & Barry Kaye auditorium on June 13, they not only observed the fourth annual Jewish Unity Day. They also celebrated the Jewish community of South Palm Beach County’s recent receipt of the prestigious international Jerusalem Unity Prize.
With a parade and onstage display of 71 synagogue, agency, school and organization banners, a live drum corps and a capella group, videos, many special effects and brief though powerful remarks, the unique multimedia, multisensory Jewish Unity Day experience clearly illuminated why Jewish South Palm Beach County received this year’s prize – and is the first community and the first group in the Diaspora to do so. The evening was presented by the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County and its Deborah & Larry Silver Center for Jewish Engagement (CJE).
"This is our night to celebrate you for another groundbreaking day of unity, of demonstrating over and over again how much good we can do together and how good it feels," said Matthew C. Levin, Federation President & CEO. Our bonds have never been stronger! From my birds-eye view, I see Jewish unity and its rewards growing across our community every day. We consistently put aside our differences and unite, for greater purposes, across what are often boundaries of Jewish life. Together we do far better for those who need us.”
"We all have a hand in Jewish unity. Every person in this auditorium tonight can bring us nearer or farther from our dream of coming together as a united community," said Marla Weiss Egers, Federation Executive Vice President. “We in South Palm Beach County know that when rabbis from across the spectrum have the vision, the creativity, the perseverance and the courage to look beyond their differences, to learn together and from each other, when varied agency and day school heads collaborate, they change the culture of an entire Jewish community."
Larry D. Silver, Co-Founder of the CJE, cited many of the past year’s successes in achieving and furthering local Jewish unity. He said, “Each Jewish Unity Day gives an opportunity to reflect on how we continue to come together ever stronger with even stronger bonds and more inclusive activities. This past year, we’ve come together in celebration, in disasters and tragedies. Our friendships and trust have deepened as our partnerships and collaborations continue to develop in so many areas on behalf of our community and our people.”
Those observing Jewish Unity Day locally joined more than a million people in Israel and nearly another million in 24 countries across six continents. This year, the local event was delayed by a week as a delegation of diverse rabbis and community leaders from South Palm Beach County headed to Israel to receive the Jerusalem Unity Prize on June 6 in a ceremony at the residence of Israeli President, Reuven Rivlin. The delegation included Rabbis Moshe Denburg, David Steinhardt, Robert Silvers, Jessica Brockman, Philip Moskowitz and Josh Broide; Judi Schuman, Federation Vice Chair and Co-Founder of the Federation’s Center for Jewish Engagement; Marla Weiss Egers, and Andrea Schuver, Federation Communications Director.
Both Jewish Unity Day and the Jerusalem Unity Prize were spearheaded by the parents of the three Israeli teens, Naftali Fraenkel, Gil-Ad Shaer and Eyal Yifrach, who were kidnapped by terrorists on their way home from school and murdered in the summer of 2014, in collaboration with Nir Barkat, Mayor of Jerusalem, and Gesher.
While the local event turned a spotlight on what is considered a remarkable Jewish community model that should be shared widely, it also featured special guest speakers from Israel, Avi Fraenkel and Uri Yifrach, fathers of two of the boys.
"When the kidnappings occurred, Jews put aside their cultural, political and religious differences," said Fraenkel. "We came together as a nation in what was both tragic for our three families, but also uplifting for Israel and the Jewish people. We were united as Jews all around the world, and Jewish Unity Day and the Jerusalem Unity Prize honor their memories.”
“For those who give excuses for their communities, we have shown that Jewish unity is indeed possible, said Rabbi Josh Broide, CJE Director. “I can’t wait to see what’s next.”
The Florida Jewish Home was the Jewish Unity Day event’s Newspaper Sponsor.