The Genesis Prize Foundation and the Jewish Funders Network launched on Monday a new matching-grant initiative, called Avenues to Jewish Engagement for Intermarried Couples and their Families, in honor of 2015 Genesis Prize Laureate Michael Douglas, which will generate $3.3 million in funds.
According to these organizations, the goal of the initiative is to mobilize the philanthropic community to increase the number of funders and grant dollars supporting organizations and projects that foster a culture of acceptance within the Jewish community.
The particular focus of the grant program is to enhance opportunities for Jewish involvement available to intermarried Jews, their life partners, and their children.
The Genesis Prize is a $1 million annual award, honoring individuals who have attained excellence and international renown in their chosen professions, and who inspire others through their engagement and dedication to the Jewish community and/or the State of Israel.
Michael Douglas received the prestigious award in June this year for his work as an actor and producer; his advocacy as a UN Messenger of Peace, focusing on human rights, gun violence prevention, and nuclear anti-proliferation work; and his passion for his Jewish heritage.
Instead of accepting the prize money, Douglas redirected the funds to promote inclusion and diversity in Jewish life, which included a $200,000 gift to the Hillel Jewish student organization.
Combined with gifts from additional donors, a fund of $1.65 million is now available which will generate $3.3 million when matched. JFN will implement this Matching Grant Initiative worldwide, with the objective to broaden the reach of such programs by increasing the number of funders who support the field.
“Michael Douglas is an example of an individual dedicated to his heritage, who wants to work to ensure others have the opportunity to connect to Jewish life,” said Stan Polovets, co-founder and chairman of the Genesis Prize Foundation.
Douglas himself said that the fund is dedicated to helping anyone interested in exploring their Jewish tradition and culture.
“As someone who is not always welcomed in the Jewish community because my mother was not Jewish, I want to make sure that all those who desire to connect with Jewish culture and heritage have that opportunity,” commented Douglas. “This fund will allow many organizations to continue, or to initiate, important work to engage intermarried couples and their children.”
Said JFN’s President and CEO, Andrés Spokoiny. “The Pew report and other studies show that intermarriage is already an inescapable reality in the Jewish community. While there are different opinions about this phenomenon, most agree that it is critical to offer these families avenues to Jewish engagement so as not to lose an entire generation.”
For more information, the Genesis Prize Foundation and the Jerusalem Post Group have put together a special magazine dedicated to promoting a more inclusive Judaism. The special issue will be published within The Jerusalem Report in time for the High Holy Days season.