Today, the Genesis Prize Foundation announced New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg as the recipient of the first ever Genesis Prize, which will be presented by the Prime Minister of Israel, Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, at a special ceremony in Jerusalem in May. The announcement was made by the Speaker of the Knesset, Yuli Edelstein, who serves as the Chairman of the Prize Committee, which selected the laureate.
The Genesis Prize was established to recognize exceptional human beings who, through their outstanding achievement, come to represent a fundamental value of the Jewish people – a commitment to the betterment of mankind. The Prize is administered by a partnership that includes the Office of the Prime Minister of the State of Israel, the Genesis Philanthropy Group (GPG), and the Office of the Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI). JAFI's Chairman Natan Sharansky, serves as the Chairman of the Selection Committee.
"I am deeply honored to be the first recipient of the Genesis Prize," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. "Many years ago, my parents instilled in me Jewish values and ethics that I have carried with me throughout my life, and which have guided every aspect of my work in business, government, and philanthropy. The Genesis Prize embraces and promotes those same values and ethics – a common thread among the Jewish people worldwide that has helped move humankind forward for centuries."
Mayor Bloomberg will donate the $1 million prize to a philanthropic cause, which will be announced in early 2014.
"Mayor Bloomberg's selection as the first Genesis Prize Laureate reflects his track record of outstanding public service and his role as one of the world's greatest philanthropists," said Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein. "As a visionary entrepreneur, he has transformed the way the world conducts business and created a more open and better informed world. Mayor Bloomberg has successfully advanced practical solutions to key global issues that range from education and public health to the environment and global innovation. He has also been outspoken in his support of Israel and exhibits a great sense of pride in his Jewish identity and heritage."
The Genesis Prize Foundation received more than 200 nominations, representing six continents. Nominations were submitted by presidents of major universities and foundations, business leaders, and heads of Jewish organizations and international NGOs.
The winner was selected by members of two high-level committees, which included Nobel Prize Laureate Elie Wiesel; Justice and President emeritus of the Supreme Court of Israel, Meir Shamgar; Justice of the Supreme Court of Israel (retired) Tova Strasberg-Cohen; and the Chief Rabbi Emeritus of the UK, Lord Jonathan Sacks. The Committee members were advised by a prominent Advisory Board, consisting of both Jewish and non-Jewish members that included several current and former presidents of leading global universities, heads of major foundations, an advisor to the Nobel Prize, and a former Minister of Justice of Canada.
"We aspire for the Genesis Prize to have the same level of recognition and prestige as the leading prizes of the world, such as the Nobels, the Pulitzers, and MacArthur Awards," said Stan Polovets, co-Founder and CEO of Genesis Philanthropy Group (GPG), which has funded the $100 million endowment to finance the award in perpetuity. "With Mayor Bloomberg as our inaugural laureate, we are well on our way to achieving this objective."
In addition to financing the annual $1 million award, the endowment established by GPG will be used to support educational and cultural programs that engage young adults around the theme of the laureate's accomplishments.
"Mayor Michael Bloomberg sets a very high bar as the first recipient of the Genesis Prize," said Nobel Prize laureate Elie Wiesel. "It is a great honor for the entire Jewish people to celebrate his achievements, his commitment to improving the world, and in particular his city: New York. His pursuit of the agenda centered on health, innovation and social justice has been unwavering. We are certain that his selection as the recipient of the Genesis Prize will serve as an inspiration to young Jews and others across the globe. "