||The President’s Award is an award conferred
by the President of the State of Israel on individuals who have made
an outstanding contribution to the State of Israel or to humanity,
through their talents, services, or in any other form.
The object of the award is to enable the President of Israel to
express his appreciation and esteem to deserving individuals, and at
the same time, use this award as a means to motivate others to
contribute their talents and efforts for the well-being of the State
of Israel and to improve the world.
The President’s Award will be presented to a candidate who meets at
least one of the following criteria:
A. A candidate who has made a unique contribution to the State of
Israel, or to improving the world, or has made a mark on society in
an area relating to his/her activities or achievements.
B. A candidate who has enhanced the prestige of the State of Israel
and significantly contributed to its image in the world.
C. A candidate who serves as a model and example in
entrepreneurship, innovation, creativity and vision.
President Shimon Peres announces unveils
presidential award of distinction
Friday February 10, 2012
President Shimon Peres unveils Presidential Award of Distinction •
New national order awarded to individuals and organizations for unique
and outstanding contributions to Israeli society and Israel’s
Yori Yalon and Israel Hayom Staff
President Peres (center)
alongside former top judge Meir Shamgar (right) and President
Yitzhak Navon, Thursday. |Photo credit: Lior Mizrahi
A new national order, the Presidential Award of
Distinction, was unveiled publicly for the first time during a special
press conference held at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem on
Thursday. The new award was initiated by President Shimon Peres and will
be bestowed on private individuals and organizations that have made
unique and outstanding contributions to Israeli society and Israel’s
international image. The prize is meant to honor initiative, innovation,
creativity and vision, and is akin to other national orders such as the
France’s Legion of Honor, Italy’s Order of Merit, and Canada’s Order of
The recipients of the first award include former U.S. Secretary of State
and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Henry Kissinger, attorney Uri Slonim,
human rights activist Judy Feld Carr and celebrated conductor Zubin
Mehta. The recipients were selected by a special advisory committee
chaired by former Chief Justice Meir Shamgar and former Israeli
President Yitzhak Navon.
“I am proud to begin a tradition in which I, as the president of Israel,
express appreciation and esteem for individuals and organizations who
have made extraordinary contributions to the state of Israel and to all
of humanity,” Peres said at the press conference. “I am mature enough to
know that people are no less important than ideas. The world has learned
to say thank you, and now the time has come for us to return the
gratitude to great people who have come to serve as exemplary models for
the younger generation. I would like to take this opportunity to thank
the members of the advisory committee for their dedicated work and for
being pioneering partners in the launch of the Presidential Award of
The committee selected Kissinger because of his long and influential
political career, citing him for being a man of foresight, creativity
and vision. As an academic, political scientist and diplomat, Kissinger
was praised for his unique contributions to Israel and for his efforts
to achieve Middle Eastern peace during his time as U.S. national
security advisor and U.S. secretary of state.
Zubin Mehta, the music director of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra,
was selected because of his unique contribution to the world of Israeli
music. Mehta received the Israel Prize in 1991 and was a recipient of
the Kennedy Center Honors in 2006.
Uri Slonim was awarded the order for his charitable causes and his role
as the president of Variety Israel, a nonprofit organization geared
towards aiding children with special needs. Slonim was also cited for
his ongoing role on behalf of Israel in negotiations aimed at releasing
Israeli prisoners of war and soldiers missing in action.
Canadian-born Feld Carr was selected for her human rights initiatives
and for helping the escape of Jews out of Syria. Since she began her
humanitarian efforts in 1973, Feld Carr has been successful in smuggling
roughly 4,000 Jews out of Syria. Feld Carr is also a recipient of the
Order of Canada, the Queen’s Jubilee Medal and a humanitarian award of
merit from the University of Haifa.
Other recipients of the first Presidential Award of Distinction include
the Rashi Foundation, established by the Leven family, which serves the
underprivileged, focusing on youth and those with special needs.
Philosopher and social critic Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz was also selected
based on his unique and extraordinary contribution to Jewish culture and
education, and for his efforts to make Jewish texts more widely
“You are shining examples for us all. It is our honor to present you
with the Presidential Award of Distinction today [Thursday],” Peres
According to the Foreign Affairs Ministry, the medallions were created
by designer Yossi Matityahu, a graduate of the Bezalel Academy of Arts
and Design. The medallions feature the North Star, symbolizing the right
path, as well as a menorah, symbolizing the renewal of the state of
Israel and the strong and continuous link between past and present. A
quote from the Book of Samuel is inscribed at the top and states: “From
his shoulders and upward,” denoting the uniqueness of the recipient.