Defending Democracy Prize 2020


Beit Berl College’s Center for Advancement of Shared Society awarded the 2020 “Defending Democracy Prize” to students whose outstanding academic projects promote values of equality and inclusion in Israeli society.

Six prizes were awarded to students whose works addressed challenges facing minority groups such as people with disabilities, the LGBTQ community, the Arab community and Ethiopian Israelis. Candidates were nominated and recommended by lecturers from a large range of departments at Beit Berl, including both undergraduate and graduate students, and a special committee selected the winners.

The 2020 Defending Democracy Prize laureates are:

  • Iris Maseri and Zehava Vaknin of the Informal Education Department of the Faculty of Education, for their seminar paper about cultural aspects of educational organizations. They conducted research at a multicultural school in Haifa where children of foreign workers, new immigrants, 2nd generation Israelis and Arabs learn together. (Supervisor: Dr. Lauren Erdreich)
  • Yardena Shimon of the Department of Social Studies and Civics in the Faculty of Society and Culture, for her seminar paper on the complex relationships between Beta Israel and the Falash Mura – two groups from Ethiopia – which involve both tension and cooperation. (Supervisor: Dr. Sigal Ben-Raphael Galanti)
  • Efrat Kagan of the Youth Development program in the Faculty of Education, for her seminar paper on attitudes towards the LGBTQ community in Israel. (Supervisor: Dr. Sigal Ben-Raphael Galanti)
  • Ayelet Yamin, a Master’s student in Art Education in the Faculty of Arts-Hamidrasha, for her seminar paper on political and social aspects of the linguistic landscape of Jerusalem’s Malcha neighborhood. (Supervisor: Dr. Vered Heruti)
  • Yuval Horowitz and Jordan Sultana of the Film Department of the Faculty of Arts-Hamidrasha, for their documentary film “Family Portrait,” which they produced as part of the workshop “Documentary Cinematography in the Community.” Their film depicts the relationship between a married couple with special needs and their caregiver. (Supervisor: Shirly Berkovitz)
  • Inbal Galin of the Martin Buber Center for Dialogue Education, for her work organizing a day camp for the children of workers at the Mazor medical center. The children came from all sectors of Israeli society and the day camp was active during the first Covid-19 lockdown, enabling the medical workers to concentrate on battling the pandemic.

The prizes are awarded every year at a ceremony held on Rabin Memorial Day, since the values of tolerance and respect that are showcased by the Defending Democracy Prize are especially relevant on a day that memorializes the most severe abrogation of these values: the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

This year’s award ceremony, held virtually due to Covid-19 restrictions, was nonetheless extremely moving. In addition to a certificate, the winners also received a modest monetary prize. “Thank you for the prize and the moving occasion. It makes me feel very proud,” said Ayelet Yamin, one of this year’s winners, following the ceremony.



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