Independence Day celebrations came to an end Tuesday evening with the Israel Prize ceremony at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem.
Israel honored its greatest minds, activists and artists, handing out the prize, considered Israel's highest honor, to a number of prominent Israelis – including Adina Bar Shalom, daughter of former chief rabbi and Shas' deceased spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, for her work on promoting higher education for ultra-Orthodox women.
The prize was set up in 1953 by then education minsiter Ben-Zion Dinor; and is given in four categories: Humanities – which includes social sciences and Jewish studies; the natural sciences; culture and arts; and lifetime achievement and exceptional contribution to the nation.
The ceremony was attended by President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Education Minister Shai Piron, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and Supreme Court President Asher Grunis.
President Peres (R), Prime Minister Netanyahu (C), Education Minister Piron (L) (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
The Israel Prize in General History was awarded to Prof. Irad Malkin for his contribution to the study of Sparta and ancient Greek migration. Prof. Malkin also spoke on the behalf of this year's laureates, and praised academic studies: "If we don't study the culture of the world, we would be narrow-minded."
Adina Bar Shalom and Avi Naor were awarded Israel Prize Lifetime Achievement Award – for their special contribution to the State and Israeli society.
Bar Shalom recives prize (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
Bar Shalom is the oldest daughter of the late Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who passed away last year. Bar Shalom has founded the Haredi College which offers academic studies for Haredi students.
The prize was given to her for her "outstanding work in promoting and integrating between ultra-Orthodox life style, societal openness and higher education."
Alongside Bar Shalom, Avinoam Naor also received the prize for lifetime achievement and contribution to society for his relentless attempts to promote a safer driving culture in Israel.
Naor is the founder and chairman of the Or Yarok foundation, a body which works to quell traffic accidents. He founded the organization in the wake of his son's sudden death in a car crash.
Since its establishment, Naor has contributed about $4 million each year out of his own pocket and also donates to other social-oriented projects which focus on enabling at-risk youths; and has personally sponsored two youth villages, Ramat Hadassah Szold Youth Village and Kiryat Ye'arim.
Prof. Shamma Yehuda Friedman, of the Naftal-Yaffe Department of Talmud at Bar Ilan University, received this year's Israel Prize for Research in Talmud.
Friedman was born in Philadelphia in 1937 and from a young age expressed an interest in the Hebrew language, and Friedman's research focus on the linguistic aspects of Talmudic literature.
Israel Prize in Physics was awarded to Prof. Mordechai Segev for his ground breaking work in the field of optics and lasers.
Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein, head of the Yeshivat Har Etzion seminary, was awarded the Israel Prize in Torah literature. Lichtenstein was born in Paris in 1933 and in 1971 immigrated to Israel with his family.
Israel Prize for Plastic Arts was awarded to Prof. Michal Na'aman. Na'aman was born in Kibbutz Kvutzat Kinneret in 1951, and began honing her painting skills during high-school. She continued her studies at Beit Berl in 1974.
Israel Prize in Medicine was awarded to Hebrew University's Prof. Marta Weinstock-Rosin, for developing the Alzheimer's drug, Exelon, a blockbuster drug for the treatment of confusion and dementia related to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Prof. Haim Levy of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem was awarded the Israel Prize for his work in the study of political science, managerial science and international relations.
Prof. Yaacov Katan was awarded the Israel Prize for Agricultural Research & Environmental Science. Katan is also an outstanding lecturer at the Hebrew University, who instructed ore than 80 graduate students.