At the opening event of the World Conference of Keren Hayesod in Jerusalem Monday in the presence of 1,000 participants from around the world, convened to mark Israel’s 70th anniversary and Keren Hayesod’s contribution to the country’s achievements.
The outgoing World Chairman of Keren Hayesod, Eliezer (Moodi) Sandberg, and the Chairman of the Keren Hayesod World Board of Trustees, David Koschitzky, presented the organization’s prestigious Isaiah Award to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
It was conferred upon the prime minister in appreciation for his leadership and his many years of commitment to the security and well-being of the State of Israel and the people of Israel. The Isaiah Award is the highest recognition conferred by Keren Hayesod. Prior recipients have included former U.S. Presidents George W. Bush and President Bill Clinton, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who received the award a few months prior to his assassination.
Prime Minister Netanyahu, who attended the event at the Jerusalem International Convention Center with his wife, Sara, opened his remarks with an expression of gratitude to Eliezer (Moodi) Sandberg on the conclusion of Sandberg’s seven-year service as World Chairman of Keren Hayesod. The prime minister turned to Sandberg and said: “Thank you, Moodi, for all you have done for the State of Israel and for the Jewish people.”
Netanyahu went on to say: “The founders of modern Zionism did not say that, with the establishment of the state, the attacks on us would cease. They did say that now we would be able to defend ourselves by ourselves, and this is what we have done. We have renewed the ability of the Jewish people by itself against all threats.
“We are stronger than we have ever been in the past; we are more economically successful than we have ever been in the past. We will take our economic success and our might and devote them to strengthen our diplomatic standing around the world. We have a brain. We have a heart. We have a state. We have an army. We have a future. And you are part of this future.” The prime minister concluding by thanking Keren Hayesod for honoring him with the Isaiah Award.
Outgoing World Chairman Sandberg thanked the prime minister. Sandberg said that there are yet many challenges facing Keren Hayesod. He thanked the leaders and supporters of Keren Hayesod and said: “We have supporters and leaders here who every day ask themselves – ‘How can I turn the future into a safer and better future? How can I contribute to this?’ We are not an island. We are a nation. We are not alone, because the Jewish people is with us. We are working for something big – for the future of the Jewish people.”
At the event, the Yakir Award was conferred upon seven Keren Hayesod laureates: Julian Black of Melbourne, Australia; Anna Chen of Taiwan on behalf of the Friends of Israel; Diana Varzan de Laufer of Asuncion, Paraguay; Alison Berk Katzeff of Cape Town, South Africa; Avy Lugassy of Geneva, Switzerland and Israel; Lev Leviev of London, U.K.; and the late Honey and Barry Sherman of Toronto, Canada. The Shermans’ award was presented to members of the Sherman family in a moving personal tribute by Keren Hayesod Honorary President Julia Koschitzky.
In his remarks at the conference, David Koschitzky, the Chairman of the Keren Hayesod World Board of Trustees, noted that a number of conference participants had arrived in Israel after participating in the March of the Living at Auschwitz-Birkenau on Holocaust Remembrance Day. “We know that no celebration for our state is complete without remembering the tragedies and horrors that the Jewish people have faced. From the depths of horror, we have become a stronger people,” he said, adding: “We do not take the State of Israel for granted.“
Also addressing the event was Maj. Gen. (res.) Yoav Gallant, the minister of housing and construction. The conference was chaired again this year by David Engel.
The moving program concluded with the singing of Hatikvah.