Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, the speaker of Israel's Knesset and two former Israel Supreme Court justices are among those who will select the winner of a new $1 million prize for serving as a role model for Jewish values.
The Genesis Philanthropy Group, a consortium of mega-wealthy philanthropist-businessmen from the former Soviet Union, announced the formation of the two committees that will determine the inaugural winner of the Genesis Prize, which will be given out annually.
Dubbed the Jewish Nobel Prize by Time Magazine, the $1 million Genesis Prize will be awarded to an accomplished, internationally renowned professional from anywhere in the world who is a role model in his or her community and who can inspire the younger generation of Jews worldwide. The inaugural Genesis Prize will be awarded in the spring of 2014 in Jerusalem by the prime minister of Israel.
Natan Sharansky, chairman of the Jewish Agency, is chairman of the eight-member Genesis Prize Selection Committee. In a recent interview with the Jewish Week, Sharansky said the committee should be a partnership between the Israeli government and diaspora Jewry, and the prize should celebrate those who are proud of their identity while working to better humanity as a whole.
"We want to have that role model for young Jews of people who gave so much pride to all of us by their contributions to the world and at the same time they are proud of their connection to their people," he said.
Other Selection Committee members include Lord Jonathan Sacks, chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, and Fiamma Nirenstein, a journalist and author and former Italian member of Parliament.
The Prize Committee, chaired by Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, also includes Wiesel, a professor at Boston University; Meir Shamgar, justice and president emeritus of the Supreme Court of Israel; and Tova Strasberg-Cohen, retired justice of the Supreme Court of Israel.
Committee members were selected for outstanding leadership in areas such as international affairs and journalism, human rights and justice, and business and philanthropy, as well as unwavering support of Jewish causes.