The Orient Hotel in Jerusalem hosted a gala dinner last night, June 24, 2018, in honor of Natan Sharansky, organized by the World Council of Trustees of the Jewish Agency and the Keren Hayesod 'Keren Hayesod - United Israel Appeal' Board. The event announced the establishment of the post of President of the Keren Hayesod in Eur-Asia and the appointment of the President of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress (EAJC), Dr. Michael Mirilashvili, to this post. The Keren Hayesod plans to significantly expand its activities in the Euro-Asian region in the near future, in response to significant demographic changes. Mirilashvili is one of the most benevolent philanthropists supporting the activities of Keren Hayesod, and also holds the post of Vice-President of the World Jewish Congress (WJC).
The highlight of the evening was the awarding of the "Jerusalem Defender" Award (Magen Yerushalayim) to Natan Sharansky, leaving the Jewish Agency after nine years as chairman, for strengthening the status of Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish people in the international arena. Presenting the prestigious award to Sharansky were the Chairman of Keren Hayesod-UIA World Board of Trustees David Koschitzky and the newly appointed president in Eur-Asia, Dr. Michael Mirilashvili. Last year Mirilashvili, and businessman and philanthropist Alexander Mashkevich, were the first awardees of the "Jerusalem Defender" Award, at a ceremony held in Toronto in the presence of Jewish leaders from around the world and 43rd US President George W. Bush.
Dr. Michael Mirilashvili said, "I am thrilled and proud to accept the post of President of Keren Hayesod in Eur-Asia. It is exciting that along with the appointment, I had the honor of presenting the "Jerusalem Defender" Award to Natan Sharansky, a man who did so much for the Jewish people in general, and for Jews from the former USSR in particular. Mr. Scharansky is a model of heroism and self-sacrifice and has united Jews from all over the world- secular and religious, Israelis and their brothers in the global Jewish community."
The Board of Trustees of the Jewish Agency has just elected the head of the parliamentary opposition in the Knesset, Yitzhak “Bougie” Herzog, as the new head of the organization, replacing Sharansky, the legendary “refusenik.”