The 2021 Van Leer Prize winning graduation projects

Daniela Charbit | 17.08.2021 | Photo: Van Leer Multimedia

פרס ון ליר תש

A contemplation of the difficulties that arise from the queer worldview, a study of Al-Hariri’s Maqamat and their translation into Hebrew, a reading of the novel "Arabesques" using a variety of reading methods, and a reexamination of the poetry of Rabbi Shalom Shabazi. These are the subjects of the projects that won the 2021 Van Leer Prize for Excellence in High School Research Projects in the Humanities given on July 4, 2021.

The study of the humanities is a necessity for the individual and humanity, not a luxury. There is no substitute for the insights born of philosophical criticism, the conclusions gained from historical analysis, or the meaning that a work of art offers to the soul and to society. Given the constant erosion of the status of the humanities and the shrinking number of students who enroll in the faculties of the humanities, and in order to encourage writing research projects in these areas by high school students, the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute has for the eighth year granted a monetary award for outstanding five matriculation units graduation projects in the humanities.

This year more than one hundred research projects in different areas (philosophy, literature, art, Jewish thought, archaeology and more) were submitted to the competition, by students from 46 different schools from all over Israel, from Carmiel to Beersheva, and from all quarters of Israeli society.

The panel of judges, comprised of senior scholars and academics, selected six research projects worthy of special merit and gave their authors an honorary mention, and four other outstanding papers earned their authors prizes of ILS 4000 each.

For the last six years President Ruben Rivlin has sponsored the award ceremony, and each year the winners visit his residence and receive his congratulations. We hope his successor, President Isaac Herzog, continues this honorable tradition in the coming years.

The four award winners this year are: Yoav Cohen, (“B’ard Allah Yuwqifna"), Rawan Amer (“Al-Hariri’s Maqamat”), Maya Rachel Leah Griniasti Arazi (“Arabesques”), and Noam Saad (“If I have not my self, what have I? And when I am by myself, who am I?”). For the full list of winners (in Hebrew)

Noam Sa’ad presents his project
Noam Sa’ad presents his project

Sa’ad’s project looks at the difficulties that arise from the queer worldview and resolves them using the terms of “other” and “vulnerability.” In their reasons for the award the judges wrote that “it is an exceptional paper with multiple unique qualities,” which challenges the traditional type of philosophical study. Sa’ad sought to clarify the concept of self-identity offered by queer theory and to test its limits as they are exposed through his own experience and his wish to fill the gaps left by Judith Butler's concept of liquid identity.


For an article (in Hebrew) about Noam Sa’ad’s paper: WDG.

For the event of screening the film “The Therapy”: An inside look at conversion “therapy”.

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