The ceremony was held in Jerusalem, in the presence of President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, Supreme Court President Asher Grunis and Education Minister Shai Piron.
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The education minister spoke at the award ceremony, saying "Despite criticism we might have of the State, we mustn't forget it is a miracle – an unprecedented historic event. A people that rises from the dust, returns to its homeland, connects past to future in order to establish an admirable society based on the dreams of Israel's prophets who walked this land."
'A society is measured by intellectuals' (Photo: Yoav Dodkovitch)
"A society," Piron added, "is measured by how championed its intellectuals and doers are. We must do everything in our power so that the names of Nobel laureates, Israel Prize winners, scholars and intellectuals, writers and revolutionaries are celebrated in our culture."
Specifically referring to Israel's youth, the education minister said he wished young Israelis would know the stories of Israeli scholars and intellectuals, know "their work and their contribution to our wellbeing. I believe in Israel's youth," he said. "They have great power."
He added that resources must be allocated to the nurturing of human capital. "I'm not as concerned about the emigration of a tycoon as I am about 'brain drain' and decreasing research opportunities."
Government officials at ceremony (Photo: Yoav Dodkovitch)
Two life achievement awards were granted this year – to the late Ron Nachman, the mayor of Ariel, who passed away in January – and to Eliyahu Hacohen, scholar of Hebrew songwriting.
The prize committee wrote of Nachman that he had a "unique personality" and "social commitment." The committee also noted that Nachman was awarded the prize for his contribution to the establishment of the Ariel University.
Ron Nachman (Archive photo: Gil Lerner)
As for Eliyahu Hacohen, the committee stated he was "The greatest scholar of Hebrew music, who devoted his life to exploring the correlations between the history of the Jews in Israel and the history of Hebrew music."
The Israeli Prize for architecture was awarded to Prof. Adam Mazor, who "made his mark on architecture and design for five decades. His perception underscores the significance of preserving greenbelts and promoting urban construction."
Prof. Gideon Dagan will be awarded the prize for his contribution to the field of hydraulics and earth sciences. "His approach," the committee stated, "stirred great interest in the world and his achievements earned him international recognition and prestigious awards.
In the field of Life Sciences, Prof. Nathan Nelson received the award for being "an inspirational teacher who produced generations of scientists who continue to develop his scientific vision."
Prof. Yosef Kaplan was awarded the prize for his work on history of the people of Israel, "for his contribution to the understanding of key processes in the development of the Jewish society."
Prof. Chava Turniansky was awarded for her research of Yiddish.
Prof. Nola Chelton was awarded for "being a unique voice in the world of theater for six decades; an original playwright, acting teacher and a theater scholar who has produced generations of actors and artists who play a significant role in Israeli theater and culture."
Prof. Yoram Bilu was awarded for his sociological and anthropological work, focused on immigrants from North Africa.
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