Photo Credit: Agence France-Presse (AFP)
Former Leader of the Opposition Succeeds Natan Sharansky
August 15, 2018 – The Genesis Prize Foundation announced today the appointment of Isaac Herzog as Chairman of the Genesis Prize Selection Committee. A son of Israel’s 6th president, for the past five years Herzog served as the Leader of the Opposition in the Knesset and resigned from the legislature following his unanimous election as the Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel in June.
Commenting on his new role, Isaac Herzog said: "I am greatly honored to take part in this great endeavor of the Genesis Prize, an institution which tells the unique Jewish story and makes manifest the contribution of the Jewish people to humanity in this current age, which is full of cynicism and ignorance as to the uniqueness of our people."
Mr. Herzog succeeds Natan Sharansky, a prominent human rights activist and the founding Chairman of the Genesis Prize Selection Committee. Sharansky, who was instrumental in establishing the Genesis Prize in 2013, will assume the role of the Chairman of the Advisory Board of The Genesis Prize Foundation.
“I am very happy to extend a warm welcome to Mr. Isaac Herzog, a man who commands deep respect throughout the Jewish world,” said Stan Polovets, Co-founder and Chairman of The Genesis Prize Foundation. “We look forward to drawing on Isaac’s wisdom, expertise and unparalleled knowledge of both the Israeli society and Diaspora Jewry, which unfortunately are drifting farther and farther apart. This is one of the greatest challenges facing the Jewish people today, and Genesis will work closely and tirelessly with Isaac on addressing this challenge.”
Mr. Polovets thanked Natan Sharansky for his chairmanship of the Selection Committee as well as the outgoing Chairman of the Advisory Board, President Emeritus of Brandeis University Jehuda Reinharz. “I would like to express our Foundation’s gratitude to Mr. Sharansky and Dr. Reinharz, who made invaluable contributions to our initiative during its formative years. Genesis looks forward to close cooperation with both of them as we continue to focus on strengthening the bond between Israel and the Diaspora, channel philanthropic dollars to areas critical for the Jewish community, and work to instill a sense of pride in their Jewish heritage among young Jews worldwide.”
Dr. Reinharz will remain a member of the Advisory Board, concurrent with his leadership as Chairman of the Board of the Weizmann Institute and President of the Mandel Foundation.
The Genesis Prize, dubbed by Time Magazine “the Jewish Nobel,” is a global award created to celebrate Jewish achievement and contribution to humanity. Launched in 2013, the Prize is financed through a permanent endowment of $100 million established by The Genesis Prize Foundation. All previous laureates have selected causes about which they are passionate, donated their monetary awards to these causes, and engaged in yearlong philanthropic initiatives developed jointly with The Genesis Prize Foundation. These initiatives included support of social entrepreneurship, inclusiveness of intermarried families in Jewish life, improving the lives of individuals with special needs, helping to alleviate the global refugee crisis, and advancing women’s empowerment.
Previous Laureates of the Award are former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (2014), actor and peace activist Michael Douglas (2015), virtuoso violinist and advocate for people with disabilities Itzhak Perlman (2016), prominent sculptor and activist for the rights of refugees Sir Anish Kapoor (2017), and actor and director Natalie Portman (2018). In addition, the inaugural Genesis Lifetime Achievement Award was awarded to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States (2018).
The Genesis Prize operates as a partnership between The Genesis Prize Foundation, the Office of the Prime Minister, and Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency for Israel.
The role of the Genesis Prize Selection Committee, chaired by the head of the Jewish Agency for Israel, is to review and analyze the nominations to form a short list of five potential Laureates. The short list is submitted to the Prize Committee, chaired by the Speaker of the Knesset, which makes a final decision on the Laureate.