Last night, at the Genesis Prize Award Ceremony in Jerusalem, actor Michael Douglas announced the establishment of a dedicated fund to foster inclusion of intermarried families in the global Jewish community. Douglas made the announcement during his acceptance speech for the Genesis Prize, a $1 million annual award that recognizes individuals who have attained excellence and international renown in their field, and who inspire others through their engagement and dedication to the Jewish community and the State of Israel.
In recognition of the challenges facing the Jewish community stemming from the high rate of intermarriage, the Genesis Prize Foundation announced that it would double the Prize amount this year to $2 million. These additional funds will also be directed to programs aimed at fostering inclusion in the Jewish community.
The Foundation also announced that it would partner with the Jewish Funders Network to establish a matching grants fund to encourage the development of new initiatives in this field. The fund is expected to disburse up to $3.5 million in grants to Jewish organizations interested in taking on the issue of inclusiveness of intermarried families and their children. The first such grant will go to Hillel International, which will use the funds to foster greater engagement of students of intermarried backgrounds in Jewish campus life.
The official call for applications will come in August 2015. A full description of the matching grants process, the criteria for applying and all relevant details are available at intermarriedfamilies-genesisprizematch.org.
“As someone who has not always been welcomed in the Jewish community because of my mixed parentage, I am passionate about changing that reality for others who want to connect to their heritage,” shared Michael Douglas on stage at the Prize ceremony. “My children have further shown me how powerful our heritage and history are, and I want other families to reap the benefits of this connection.”
Former Mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg was the recipient of the inaugural Genesis Prize, awarded in May of 2014.
Bloomberg deferred his $1 million award so that the Genesis Prize Foundation could create the Genesis Generation Challenge competition in his honor. As part of the competition, nine teams of young adults have been awarded $100,000 each to pursue projects in various fields of social innovation aimed at bettering the world. The winning teams include Prize4Life, an Israeli nonprofit organization looking to develop an app that will help monitor ALS disease markers; Build Israel and Palestine (BIP), a U.S.-based platform bringing together Jews and Muslims to partner in development projects in Israel and the Palestinian territories; as well as Spark, an organization operating in Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda, involved in reaching out to rural poor communities and assisting them in implementing their own social impact projects.