A highly inspiring and widely promising international conference titled “Sparta-Israel: Renewing an Ancient Friendship” took place in Sparta, Greece, on September 2 & 3, 2018 ( www.sparta-israel.org). The conference was organised by the Municipality of Sparta, B’nai B’rith Greece and the Greek-Israeli Cooperation Institute. It was meant to celebrate the ancient friendship between the Spartans and the High Priests of Judea, as initiated by Areus, the wise king of the Spartans, ca. 300 BC. The King Areus mission and the content of his letter, delivered to High Priest Onias, is mentioned in the books of Maccabees and in the historical works of Josephus. It begins: “Areus King of the Spartans, to Onias the High Priest, greetings. It has been discovered in records regarding the Spartans and Jews that they are brothers, and of the race of Abraham. Now that this has come to our knowledge, we shall be obliged if you will send us news of your welfare.”
In the context of this significant conference and with the purpose of commemorating King Areus’ extraordinary mission in cultural diplomacy, the Greek-Israeli Cooperation Institute announced the “King Areus Awards”, planned to be presented yearly to distinguished personalities of Jewish descent. This year’s awards, steeped in centuries long cultural symbolism, were bestowed as follows:
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