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 in 2016, 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 would redirect a portion of it to promote inclusion of persons with disabilities in both North America and Israel. In North America, Genesis Prize Foundation and Jewish Funders Network administered a matching grants initiative which resulted in 22 organizations receiving funding for programs that engage people with disabilities in Jewish life. For more information on the winners, visit the Genesis Prize Foundation's press release. The goal of the initiative was 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.

In Israel, Perlman's prize award funds will be directed to support local organizations and projects that promote culture and assist Israelis with disabilities, under the management of "Matan - United Way." The winners were announced at a ceremony in Jerusalem in April 2017. To read more about the event and the winners, visit the Genesis Prize Foundation's press release