The Prix Irene (the Irene Bloomfield prize) is a prize awarded each year to individuals in appreciation of their work in promoting peaceful coexistence between human groups. The laureate is elected by a secret vote and the prize is awarded by the Committee for the Care of the Prix Irene (abbreviated the Prix Irene Committee). The prize is awarded for activities or work in the field of social life and coexistence, journalism, literature or art, theology or science. Presentation of the award is usually associated with a seminar and/or a conference.
The mission of the Prix Irene is a continuous endorsement and promotion of a peaceful coexistence (and prevention of hostilities) between differing human groups, whose differences can be a source of misunderstanding and/or aggression. (These may be ethnic, religious, social and other groups.) The aim of the Prix Irene is to remind people of ideas and efforts of Irene Bloomfield who devoted her life to achieving peace (among human groups as well as within human souls), while also training a group of disciples in Prague and making a unique contribution to the therapy of the repercussions of the Holocaust.
In 2003, the Prix Irene was established as a separate project under the umbrella of the civic association Tolerance and Civil Society (founded in 1992). Before that, in 1994, within the purview of Tolerance and Civil Society, a group of psychotherapists, the descendants of Holocaust survivors, started to meet for self-experience and training in group work. Their project was called Families After the Holocaust. From 1995 until 2001, the team was trained and led by Irene Bloomfield. After her death, her disciples renamed their project after the Raphael Centre, a counselling service initiated and headed by Irene Bloomfield in London. Thus, Prague Rafael Centrum was founded, and along with that the Prix Irene (Irene Prize) was established in 2003.
In 2008, the board of the civic association Tolerance and Civil Society opted for Prix Irene to become an independent project. After establishing a newly formed civic association, The Committee for the Care of Prix Irene, the funds from the original legacy of Irene Bloomfield were transferred to the Committee's account (minus the expenses associated with the prizes awarded so far). Thus, the association maintains the spiritual legacy of Irene Bloomfield through awarding the annual prize, its choice of laureates and its educational activities.
In 2006, psychotherapists trained by Irene Bloomfield founded another civic association, the Rafael Institute, aimed at providing, among other things, training and education in the prevention and therapy of psychological trauma. The Rafael Centrum carries on with its activities within the Rafael Institute, providing psychotherapy for generations after the Holocaust.
- cultivating human relations, especially relations among human groups, and treating traumas resulting from organized violence;
- being able to accept human differences, including group differences;
- treating disorder symptoms in a posttraumatic situation, and in particular promoting a posttraumatic growth;
- transforming a bad situation into a good one, striving to prevent evil;
- not succumbing to the fascination by evil, but maintaining one's mental health and resilience and behaving according to the principle of non-violence;
- avoiding errors in correcting the world in the lay manner and acting on the basis of professionalism.
Originally, the funds for awarding the prize and for the accompanying seminar or conference were drawn from the heritage fund set up by Irene Bloomfield for her disciples; Prix Irene is thus also meant to express an open attitude towards the majority society by the Jewish psychotherapists, the original founders of the Prix Irene Committee. Currently, there are also other personalities involved in the work of the Committee, citizens enjoying the respect of the public.
In the last two years, after using up the original fund, awarding the prize and organising the seminar and conference has only been possible thanks to the sponsors and grants.