Itzhak Perlman, “Fiddler to the World,” Awarded 2016 Genesis Prize

Photo courtesy
Photo courtesy

World’s preeminent violinist recognized for his exceptional contributions as a musician, teacher, advocate for individuals with special needs and dedication to Jewish values

December 14, 2015, New York: 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.”

The announcement of his Genesis Prize award comes on the heels of Itzhak Perlman’s receipt of the Presidential Medal of Freedom on November 25th. 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.

“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.”

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.

About: 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 – funded through a $100 million endowment established 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.