The Israel Prize is the most prestigious award in Israel, given to those who displayed excellence in their field or contributed strongly to Israeli culture.
First awarded in 1953 by Minister of Education Ben-Tzur Dinor, the Israel Prize has been awarded every year since during a state ceremony on the eve of Israeli Independence Day. Usually, Israel's President, Prime Minister, Speaker of the Knesset and President of the Supreme Court are all in attendance for the award ceremony.
Recipients of the Israel Prize must be Israeli citizens or organizations that have demonstrated excellence or broken new ground in a certain field. The prize is awarded in four fields: humanities, social sciences and Jewish studies; natural and exact sciences; culture, arts, communication and sports; and, lifetime achievement and exceptional contribution to the nation.
Prominent laureates of the Israel Prize include Shmuel Yosef Agnon, Martin Buber, Abba Eban, A.B. Yehoshua, Robert Israel Aumann, Golda Meir, Amos Oz, Naomi Shemer and Teddy Kollek. Organizations that have received the award include the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Jewish Agency, Yad Vashem and the Jewish National Fund.
At the 2013 award ceremony, Education Minister Shai Piron said: "Society is measured by the importance of its intellectuals and leaders. We should do everything we can to make sure that the names of Nobel laureates, Israel Prize laureates, philosophers, intellectuals, writers and leaders of change will dwell on the lips of young people in Israel."
To view a complete listing of Israel Prize winners throughout history, click here.
Sources: Israeli Science and Technology;
Jerusalem Post, (April 17, 2013);
“Sharpest Brains, Widest Hearts, Gifted Minds: The Fantastic 16 to Win the 2018 Israel Prize,” Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, (May 7, 2018).