On the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel, the City of David – ancient Jerusalem salutes the recipients of the Israel Prize: at an appreciation event that took place yesterday (Tuesday) in the City of David National Park near the Western Wall, the prize winners and their families visited the archaeological digs of the Antiquities Authority on the Stepped Street – “The Way of the Pilgrims” – and even experienced the archaeological dig with their own hands. The tour was guided by Dudale Be’eri, winner of the Israel Prize.

“We came to the City of David, and we experienced something of this city, of this holiness.” These are the words of Miriam Peretz, the 2018 Israel Lifetime Achievement Award winner. “We went down to the Pool of Siloam and tried to go up to Jerusalem, because one never goes down to Jerusalem, only up. And yes, on this assent, sometimes we lost people on the way. We lost friends, we lost fighters, we lost children. But we went up and we didn’t stop, to get to the Temple, to get to the place of morality and justice, to get to the place that brings to the world the gospel of man, of justice, and of peace. We went up for this, and we also paid a price. And this ascent is better than any other descent. And when we walked through its streets of ancient Jerusalem, I felt the generations, the pilgrims. Did they ever think that I would arrive here? Did they think that thousands of years would pass, and we would arrive here and celebrate seventy years of the State of Israel, its revival, and make the same pilgrimage? Yes! Because it is our people who have always carried the same hope, the hope of building our home here, in Jerusalem.”

As part of the excavations, which have not yet been opened to the general public, one of the most impressive main streets of ancient Jerusalem has been revealed, which connected the Pool of Siloam to the Temple and was used by pilgrims about two thousand years ago.

The tour was conducted under the guidance of the winner of the Israel Prize, Dudale Be’eri – CEO of the City of David, and with the participation of current and former prizewinners: Miriam Peretz, Prof. Alex Lubotsky, Yehuda Harel and Adina Bar Shalom, and with them, some of the members of the City of David’s Public Council: Former Chief Justice  – Zvi Tal and the former head of the Mossad – Shabtai Shavit.

As part of the event, the prize recipients were awarded a replica of a “Freedom of Zion” coin – which was discovered in the archaeological excavations in the City of David. This is a coin from the second year of the revolt that was used by the last Jewish rebels on the eve of the destruction of the Second Temple.

“The coin you received today symbolizes the longing for independence of the Jews in Jerusalem about 2000 years ago.” said the recipient of the Israel Prize, Dudale Be’eri – who won the Israel Prize for Lifetime Achievement last year thanks to his work for the City of David. “Freedom of Zion and political independence – was the wish in the hearts of the last Jewish rebels back then, and here we are today, celebrating seventy years of independence for the State of Israel, in Zion – in Jerusalem. The City of David congratulates you, winners of the Israel Prize, for your enormous contribution to the freedom of Zion today!”

A letter written on parchment attached to the coin reads: “In honor of the seventieth year of the State of Israel, the City of David – ancient Jerusalem, salutes you, winners of the Israel Prize, for your contribution to the society, culture, science, and security of nation and the State, and for your Zionistic and blessed work for the freedom of Zion today.”