Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar announced on Sunday that the Israel Prize for Lifetime Achievement will be awarded this year to the late mayor of Ariel, Ron Nachman, and to Hebrew music researcher Eliyahu Hacohen.
Sa'ar announced the awarding of the prizes for special contribution to society, approving the recommendation of the prize committee, headed by former Supreme Court Justice Jacob Turkel.
The committee cited that "Ron Nachman envisioned the settlement and building of the country as a supreme value. In 1998, he ensured the declaration of Ariel as a city, the capital of Samaria, and until his recent death [last month], he served as the city's mayor. Nachman espoused the integration of a variety of communities and, under his leadership, Ariel became a secular magnet for new immigrants from the former Soviet Union throughout the 1990s.
"He also was one of the initiators of Ariel absorbing the community from the evacuated Netzarim settlement. Nachman can also be counted among the initiators of Ariel University, where new immigrants study next to veteran residents, Jews and minorities, secular and religious people, all under the canopy of academic excellence."
The committee decided that it was worthy to present Nachman with the prize posthumously, as the regulations allow for the consideration of a person whose candidacy was submitted before he or she passed away.
"Ron Nachman was a pioneer and a great Zionist," Sa'ar said. "He was a man of vision and a man of action. He established the city of Ariel and served as its mayor until his death. For the few whose actions in life are able to be seen still once they are gone, there is a testimony to their actions. The committee's recommendation cites excellence and I was happy to adopt it. It is only too bad that Ron Nachman did not win the prize during his life, but it is good that on Independence Day this year, Israel will pay him a debt of honor."
The Education Ministry issued a statement on Hacohen's honor as well: "Eliyahu Hacohen is the 'high priest' [a play on the name Hacohen, which means "the priest"] of researching the history of Hebrew music, to which he has dedicated over half a century. Mr. Cohen is a popular lecturer and an authority on Hebrew music. He has traveled across the country, bequeathing his vast knowledge of history and tens of thousands of songs, as well as his love for Hebrew music, to the public. He has been inspired by a relentless sense of mission."