NEW YORK, Dec. 14, 2015 /CNW/ -- The Genesis Prize Foundation today announced that world renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman has been selected as the 2016 Genesis Prize Laureate. The Genesis Prize is a $1 million annual award given to individuals who have achieved extraordinary professional success, have made a significant contribution to humanity, and inspire others through their engagement and dedication to the Jewish community and the State of Israel.
The inaugural Genesis Prize – dubbed by Time magazine as "The Jewish Nobel" – was awarded in 2014 to New York Mayor and one of the world's leading philanthropists, Michael Bloomberg. Academy-award winning actor, producer and peace activist Michael Douglas received this prestigious award in 2015.
"Itzhak Perlman is the embodiment of everything an ideal Genesis Prize Laureate should be," said Chairman and Co-Founder of the Genesis Prize, Stan Polovets. "Itzhak has achieved unparalleled professional success, and through his music brings joy to millions of people around the world. A 16 time Grammy award winner, he has been an incredible source of inspiration for individuals with special needs by overcoming tremendous personal challenges after having been severely disabled by polio at age four. And he has given back to society by dedicating virtually all of his free time and significant resources to teaching young talented musicians and to serving as an advocate for individuals with disabilities. We are delighted to have Itzhak as our 2016 Laureate." To view Itzhak Perlman's full biography, visit the Genesis Prize website at www.genesisprize.org/laureates/laureate-2016.
The announcement of his Genesis Prize award comes on the heels of Itzhak Perlman's receipt of the Presidential Medal of Freedom on November 25. President Obama's announcement noted that Perlman has been the soloist for the musical score in Schindler's List, which subsequently won an Academy Award for Best Original Score. Two other US presidents – Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton – have previously recognized Perlman, a Warner Music artist, by awarding him the Medal of Liberty and the National Medal of Arts in 1986 and 2000, respectively.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: "I congratulate Itzhak Perlman on being selected as the 2016 Genesis Prize Laureate and on being named a recipient of the United States Presidential Medal of Freedom. I am proud that such prestigious awards have been bestowed on a citizen of Israel. While it is coincidental that these announcements came close together, they provide an opportunity to reflect on Itzhak's exceptional and varied contribution to humanity in his role as the 'Fiddler to the World.'" Prime Minister Netanyahu will present the Genesis Prize to Perlman at the June 23 ceremony in Jerusalem.
"I am humbled and honored to receive the Genesis Prize, recognizing not just my professional achievements and my desire to improve the world, but also my commitment to my Jewish identity, Jewish values, and Jewish culture," said Itzhak Perlman. "I have always been very proud of my Jewish heritage, which has greatly influenced my music, my world view, and my work as an advocate for individuals whom society often leaves behind."
The Genesis Prize is funded through a $100 million endowment established by the Genesis Prize Foundation, a private foundation with offices in New York City and Tel Aviv. The Prize is administered in partnership with the Office of the Prime Minister of Israel and the Jewish Agency for Israel. Members of the two committees that select Genesis Prize winners include Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Elie Wiesel, prominent human rights activist and former Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky, Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein, and former president of the Supreme Court of Israel Meir Shamgar.
Following the tradition established by the two previous Genesis Prize Laureates, Itzhak Perlman intends to direct the prize money to initiatives about which he is passionate, including improving access for individuals with disabilities and developing young musicians of rare and special talent. Further details of Perlman's plans for directing the Genesis Prize award will be announced in February.
Mayor Bloomberg's $1 million prize was used to create the Genesis Generation Challenge, a competition to fund ideas from young adults that seek to better the world. Over 100 teams from 12 countries participated in the competition, with winners awarded funding to undertake projects ranging from seeking a cure for ALS to alleviating poverty in Africa (http://www.genesisprize.org/laureate-initiatives/genesis-generation.html). Michael Douglas has directed his $1 million award – along with an additional $1 million provided by other philanthropists – to initiatives focused on inclusiveness of intermarried families in Jewish life (http://www.genesisprize.org/laureate-initiatives/welcoming-intermarried-families.html).
About the Genesis Prize Foundation
The Genesis Prize seeks to recognize individuals who have attained excellence and international renown in their chosen professional fields, and who inspire others through their engagement and dedication to the Jewish community and the State of Israel. The Prize, in the amount of $1 million — endowed by the Genesis Prize Foundation and awarded annually by the Prime Minister of Israel — was established by a unique partnership among the Office of the Prime Minister of the State of Israel, Genesis Prize Foundation, and the Office of the Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel.
The Laureate of the Genesis Prize is selected from a list of candidates nominated by leaders of hundreds of institutions and organizations worldwide, including leading universities, major foundations, Fortune 500 corporations, international NGO's and top Jewish organizations. Upon receipt of the nominations for the Prize, the Selection Committee, headed by the Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency for Israel (currently Natan Sharansky), selects a short list of candidates and the Prize Committee, headed by Knesset Speaker (currently Yuli Edelstein), selects the Laureate.
The Genesis Prize Foundation also receives guidance from its Advisory Board, chaired by Jehuda Reinharz, President emeritus, Brandeis University, and comprised of Rivka Carmi, President of Ben Gurion University of the Negev; Irwin Cotler, Former Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Canada, Founder, Raoul Wallenberg Center for Human Rights; Jonathan Fanton, President of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Former President, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; Kenneth Feinberg, Managing Partner, Feinberg Rozen, LLP, Former Special Master of the U.S. Government's 911 Victim Compensation Fund and Administrator, BP Deepwater Horizon Disaster Compensation Fund; Gary Ginsberg, Executive Vice President, Time Warner; Vartan Gregorian, President, Carnegie Corporation of New York and former President, Brown University; Rabbi Laura Janner - Klausner, Senior Rabbi to Reform Judaism, United Kingdom; Robin Chemers Neustein, Senior Director, Goldman Sachs; Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, Chief Rabbi, Efrat, Israel; John Sexton, President, New York University; Allen Shapard, Senior Vice President, IMG Worldwide Inc., Director of Global Institutions Practice, Advisor to Nobel Laureates and esteemed institutions; and Joan E. Spero, Adjunct Professor, Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs.
SOURCE The Genesis Prize Foundation