Judges’ Rationale for Awarding the Israel Prize to the Youth Movements:
The youth movements began their activity during the days of the Yishuv, before the establishment of the State, out of commitment to the Zionist dream of encouraging young Jews to immigrate to the up-and-coming State. We have recently seen them assisting the residents of northern Israel and being active in the Sderot bomb shelters. Between these two periods, as the State of Israel was being established and built, the young members of the various movements have served in development towns, absorbed waves of immigration, volunteered for settlement projects, maintained contact with young people in Jewish communities throughout the world, worked in the Service Year framework to bolster the population groups in development towns and outlying areas, strengthened democratic society, and helped integrate special-needs children into the youth movements.
The youth movements act out of moral dedication and a sense of mission, instilling in their members faith, sensitivity toward others and the desire to make society a better place to live. In times of confusion and doubt, the movement members have served as an educational-ethical anchor that facilitates developing a sense of belonging to Israeli society on all levels.
The youth movements have succeeded in constructing a unique educational enterprise based on youth counselors guiding younger children, and together acquiring the skills to examine the society’s central moral questions, unique ways of meeting challenges and finding creative solutions, while being open to the distress and difficulties encountered in the lives of societies and individuals.
Key concepts in Israeli society are grounded in the values the youth movements have promoted over the years: the love of hiking the paths throughout the country, striving to achieve goals, songs of togetherness around the bonfire, summer camps, service year, and ever-readiness to join in projects.
The youth movements operate within the framework of the Council of Youth Movements, which currently unites 250,000 young people aged 12-18 who are active in 14 different youth movements. These youths from the entire range of the political spectrum act out of moral and ideological commitment to performing national and social tasks with which they identify.
The Council of Youth Movements in Israel handles the contact between all the movements and the government ministries. This fertile framework for dialogue between leadership representatives from the various movements provides an efficient moral foundation that allows each movement to determine its course of activity and carry out important societal tasks in its own way.
For all these reasons, the Judges’ Committee found the Council of Youth Movements, which coordinates between the youth movements, worthy of the 2008 Israel Prize for Lifetime Achievement and Exceptional Contribution to the Nation.
Prof. Yehoshua Shemer, Chairman
Prof. Yitzhak Brick