On Sunday, November 24, Rabbi Shaul Praver was awarded the Samaritan Peace Medal. This award was presented to Rabbi Praver, of Congregation Adath Israel, by Samaritan Chancellor Benyamim Tsedaka, editor of AB — The Samaritan News and tireless world advocate of the Samaritan people and their rich historical traditions.
The Samaritan Medal for Peace and Humanitarian Achievement is awarded by the Samaritan people of the Holy Land for peace efforts, humanitarian service and Samaritan studies demonstrated through their lives and actions in the spirit of the Good Samaritan. Its purpose is to recognize and reward service to humanity, especially in the cause of peace.
Although many organizations offer “Samaritan Medals,” the one presented to Rabbi Praver is the only Samaritan Medal actually awarded by the original and authentic Samaritan people themselves. They wish to let everyone know that they are a living, vibrant group of people, numbering approximately 700, in the heart of the Middle East, who have the unique distinction of getting along well with all sides in that land of conflict.
“It was a wonderful evening that I shall cherish always and forever,” said Rabbi Praver. “I appreciate Chairman Tsedaka’s efforts and I shall always be a friend and support to him and the Samaritan people. It was humbling to receive the Samaritan Medal for Peace and Humanitarian achievements. I shall honor it by continuing the work I have begun.”
Shortly after the announcement of the impending award, congratulatory notes began arriving in Rabbi Praver’s emailbox. Among those offering their congratulations was Sandy Hook resident Scarlett Lewis.
“As a mother of a victim in the Sandy Hook School shooting, I am so happy that you are receiving the Samaritan Peace medal,” she wrote to Rabbi Praver. “You, more than any other that I have seen, have been present and actively seeking a resolution to a pervasive issue in our world that threatens to destroy. You continue to go above and beyond to make a lasting change in our society and culture and I know I am deeply grateful for your comforting presence and efforts.”
In addition to the award presentation that evening, which was done at the home of Rabbi Praver and his family, the evening included a lecture by Chancellor Tsedaka concerning his recently published book, The Samaritan Version of the Torah (translated and co-edited with Sharon Sullivan). A Q&A followed, leading into a brief presentation ceremony of the Samaritan Peace Medal and the three-fold blessing of the High Priest of Israel.