Awarded to Eric Rosenthal, Founder and Executive Director of Disability Rights International, for Fighting Worldwide to End Segregation and Abuse of People with Disabilities
New York – June 3, 2013 – Eric Rosenthal, founder and executive director of a pioneering international human rights advocacy organization dedicated to ending the segregation and abuse of children and adults with disabilities, is the 2013 recipient of The Charles Bronfman Prize.
Each year, The Charles Bronfman Prize – and an accompanying $100,000 award – goes to a young humanitarian whose work is informed by Jewish values and has global impact that changes lives and inspires others.
As the founder of Disability Rights International (DRI), Rosenthal has provided global leadership and effected worldwide change on this critical issue. He has documented human rights conditions in over two dozen nations, has trained and inspired activists to work to protect people with disabilities in their own countries, and has recently launched the Worldwide Campaign to End the Institutionalization of Children. He and his partners have worked – often under dangerous conditions – to create a world in which all people with disabilities can enjoy basic human rights.
Rosenthal, 49, founded DC-based DRI twenty years ago, deeply affected by the brutal conditions in institutional settings that he witnessed around the world as a human rights activist, and committed to fill a void in the legal, advocacy and humanitarian communities.
Rosenthal’s path-breaking efforts brought world attention to the rights of people with disabilities, exposing a vacuum in international human rights advocacy that has now been filled by the growth of a new international disability rights movement. His documentation of abuses inflicted upon millions of children and adults with disabilities in more than 25 countries has led nations to end human rights violations and has attracted unprecedented attention from international media and government agencies.
He credits his grandmother, an émigré from Eastern Europe, for helping to frame in historical terms the imperative of being a humanitarian. “My grandmother was herself diagnosed with manic depression. As a young person, I was exposed to the impact of a mental disability on her and on the broader family. I remember the very intense conversations that I had with her. She told me about the family that perished in the Holocaust and I remember the moment when she sat me down and said, ‘Remember the people who were left behind.’
“As Jews, one generation from a Holocaust, we should understand why we must not allow any group of people or any person to be excluded or be dehumanized or be put away and allowed to die,” he said.“The promise I made my grandmother to remember is very much core to the work that I do. We must not only remember the six million who perished in the Holocaust, we must also act to protect the 10 million children left behind in orphanages and other custodial institutions.
2013 marks the ninth year that The Charles Bronfman Prize is being awarded. Ellen Bronfman Hauptman and Stephen Bronfman, along with their spouses, Andrew Hauptman and Claudine Blondin Bronfman, established the Prize to honor their father and his commitment to applying Jewish values to better the world and to inspire the next generations.
“Embracing one’s Jewish values means striving to create a more just world,” said Stephen Bronfman, on behalf of the Prize founders. “Eric Rosenthal personifies this underlying principle of The Charles Bronfman Prize. By seeking to lift the lives of a marginalized population, he is elevating us all and demonstrating what a visionary humanitarian can accomplish.”
Previous recipients are Jay Feinberg, Founder and Executive Director of the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation; Dr. Alon Tal, Founder of Israel’s Arava Institute for Environmental Studies; Dr. Amitai Ziv, Founder and Director of the Israel Center for Medical Simulation; Rachel Andres, Founder and Director of Jewish World Watch’s Solar Cooker Project; Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin, Co-Founders of the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP); Sasha Chanoff, Founder and Executive Director, RefugePoint; Jared Genser, Founder and President of Freedom Now; Karen Tal, Former Principal of The Bialik-Rogozin School and Co-Founder of Education Insights; and Eric Greitens, Founder and CEO of The Mission Continues.
The Charles Bronfman Prize Foundation, a United States 501(c)(3) corporation headquartered in New York, administers the Prize. For more information about Charles Bronfman, The Prize or prior recipients and their accomplishments, please visit TheCharlesBronfmanPrize.com.