The “Nobel Prize” of the Jewish Community


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Considered the Jewish Nobel, the Genesis prize was created to recognize a person that has achieved excellence and international recognition in their career and, whose actions represent the Jewish community commitment. In an interview granted to Efe, the Argentinean Andrés Spokoiny, member of the selection committee of the Genesis Prize, claims that this award "celebrates being Jewish in the XXI century, being member of a community with almost 14 million people with an extraordinary 5.700 year-old history".

In the spring of 2014, the Prime Minister from Israel will award the Genesis Prize in Jerusalem, an award of 1 million dollars that will be granted to a recognized professional. As explained by the Genesis Prize Foundation, the recognition goes to someone who is a role model in his/her community and who can inspire the younger generation of Jews worldwide.

Andrés Spokoiny, president and CEO of the Jewish Funders Network and member of the committee of the Genesis Prize explains this initiative.

Is it possible to consider the Genesis Prize Foundation as an entity to integrate Jews distributed around the world?

Yes, this Prize celebrates being a Jew in the XXI century, being a member of a community of nearly 14-million with an extraordinary 5,700 year-old history. The Genesis Prize looks to inspire young Jews to embrace an identity that has profound historical, cultural and spiritual meaning. It also aims to make contributing to humanity as a whole a main inspirational message for young Jews around the world.

What are the main principles that guide the Genesis Prize Foundation?

The Genesis Prize is a $1million award given annually to an accomplished, internationally renowned professional from anywhere in the world who is a role model in his/her community and who can inspire a younger generation of Jews worldwide.

The Prize seeks to recognize individuals who have attained excellence in their chosen professional fields, and whose actions, in addition to their achievement, embody the character of the Jewish people through commitment to Jewish values, the Jewish community and/or to the State of the Israel.

In addition, the Genesis Prize reflects the ancient Jewish concept of tikun olam: "humanity's shared responsibility to heal, repair and transform the world." This award honors individuals whose exceptional deeds are transforming this particular period of history and giving special meaning to the tradition of tikun olam.

What other international projects do you sponsor?

The Genesis Prize Foundation is looking into a number of international programs that engage youth around the world. The Genesis Philanthropy Group, one of the three partners of the Genesis Prize, has on-going programs in North America, Israel and the former Soviet Union related to Jewish identity. It is supporting young, innovative projects that renew Jewish Identity making it more relevant for our times.

Where in the world does the GPF have representatives?

Our recently announced prize and selection committee members, as well as board members, represent Israel, the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, France, Argentina and Canada.

What role does the GPF intend to play in the globalization context with this prize sponsor?

The accomplishments of the Genesis Prize laureate will place a bright spotlight on the individual's achievement in his/her field and will serve to symbolize the Jewish people's contribution to humanity.

The Genesis Prize is known as the "Jewish Nobel." Why?

When we launched the prize last year, both TIME magazine and The New York Times coined
the term "Jewish Nobel". We hope that the prize will be regarded – as the Nobel – as a creator of role models, as a recognition and as a meaningful contribution to the awardee's work.

Will the USD 1 million be awarded to an individual or is it possible for some institution to receive it?

The prize will be given to an individual, and renounced institutions around the world will be responsible for nominating individuals.

What is your thought on Nobel Elie Wiesel being a member of the Foundation?

It is an honor to have Elie Wiesel join us in this historic initiative as a member of the prize committee; his status as a Nobel Laureate and human rights activist, and his contributions to Jewish society and the world, are inspirational.

Mr. Spokoiny, what is your role in the Jewish Funders Network? What are your goals?

I'm the president and CEO of the Jewish Funders Network, an organization that gathers around
1,000 Jewish Foundations. The role of the Jewish Funders Network is to increase the breadth and the impact of Jewish Philanthropy. We do that by helping funders through different stages of their philanthropic journey and through creating connections and opportunities for networking. We also aim to create a more effective philanthropy by disseminating best practices and professional knowhow.

What do you consider are the greatest Jewish minds today?

It is hard for me to single out any specific individual. There are Jews of all ages and of all background making enormous contributions to the world: in technology, art, cinema, medicine, economics, etc. I'm particularly inspired by those who see their contribution to humanity as reflection and/or consequence of their Jewish values.

What opinions has the Jewish community expressed at the idea of a "Jewish Nobel"?

We have received resounding enthusiasm for this award and what it stands for; some believe that this prize is more important than the Nobel Prize in honoring Jewish contributions to humanity. We are finally able to recognize the path-breaking achievements of great Jewish men and women and their contribution to humanity.

How does this award contribute to the world of ideas and global harmony?

Our hope is that the Prize will inspire a sustained global conversation about Jewish values, identity and the Jewish experience as a whole. This conversation cannot exist without exploring the human rights struggle of all people, ethics and social purpose. The winner will embody core Jewish values, such as a continuing commitment to social justice, philanthropy and intellectual achievement. More importantly, The Prize recipient will be a source of pride and inspiration for young people—Jews and non-Jews alike.

All of these elements encourage intellectual curiosity, a global exchange of ideas and nurture global community.

The fact that the Jewish Community honors those who make universal contribution may and surely will inspire other communities to reflect about their own contribution to humanity.