Breaking Barriers

On June 23, 2016, Itzhak Perlman was awarded the Genesis Prize in Jerusalem. During his acceptance speech, he spoke of the importance of tzedakah (charitable giving). Even at times in his life when he received tzedakah, as a young child in Tel Aviv and as a student at Julliard, it was always important to reserve a portion of whatever he had to give to those less fortunate. He went on to speak of the opportunity the Genesis Prize provides its Laureates to give to causes which are personally meaningful.

The Genesis Prize is an annual $1 million award, however this year, through the generosity of philanthropist Roman Abramovich, the Prize award was doubled to $2 million, as it was in 2015. Mr. Perlman shared that in lieu of accepting the funds, he will redirect a portion of it to promote inclusion of persons with disabilities in both North America and Israel. In Israel, Perlman's prize money will be directed to support local organizations and projects that promote culture and assist Israelis with disabilities, under the management of "Matan - United Way." ( In North America, Jewish Funders Network will administer a matching grants program that will generate $2 million in investment once matched.

The JFN initiative aims to mobilize the philanthropic community to increase the number of funders and grant dollars supporting organizations and projects that promote the inclusion of persons with disabilities through a one to one match. Resulting programs will generate $3 million in investment. The application period opened on September 12, 2016 and runs through March 31, 2017. For a full description of the matching grants process and to apply, visit