Awarded “Jewish Nobel” for his commitment to Israel, social justice and equality
Will use $1 million award to combat anti-Semitism, efforts at de-legitimization of Israel
January 9, 2019, New York and Tel Aviv – Today, The Genesis Prize Foundation announced prominent American philanthropist and owner of the New England Patriots football team, Robert Kraft, as the 2019 Genesis Prize Laureate.
The annual $1 million Genesis Prize, dubbed the “Jewish Nobel” by Time Magazine, honors extraordinary individuals for their outstanding professional achievement, contribution to humanity, and commitment to Jewish values and Israel. The Prime Minister of Israel will present the award to Robert Kraft at a gala ceremony in Jerusalem in June.
In keeping with the Genesis Prize tradition, Kraft has chosen to forgo the $1 million monetary award so that funds can be granted, in his honor, to initiatives combatting anti-Semitism and other forms of prejudice as well as attempts to de-legitimize the State of Israel.
The award comes during an alarming resurgence of anti-Semitism and other forms of ethnic- and racially-motivated hate crimes (see Notes to the Editor). According to the FBI, anti-Semitic incidents in the US increased by 37 percent between 2016 and 2017, while in Europe violent attacks against Jews during the past several years claimed victims in Brussels, Paris, Toulouse, Marseille, and elsewhere.
As of 2018, anti-Semitic incidents (including those not involving physical violence) were being reported in France and Germany at an average rate of four per day. And the UK has experienced record levels of anti-Semitic activity which have stretched from street level incidents to mainstream politics.
Most dramatically, 2018 saw the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in US history, when eleven Jewish congregants were killed at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue in October.
For decades, Kraft has spoken out publicly and donated generously to organizations combating prejudices, including anti-Semitism and the de-legitimization of the State of Israel.
Noting the disturbing trends in the U.S. and Europe, Kraft recently made a public pledge that he would further his efforts to help combat anti-Semitism and all hate crimes. As part of this effort, Kraft’s Major League Soccer team, the New England Revolution, will host Chelsea Football Club (UK) in a benefit match at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts in May. All the proceeds from the match – as well as an additional $1 million personal contribution from Kraft – will be granted to initiatives to combat prejudices, including anti-Semitism.
Head of the Genesis Prize Selection Committee and Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel Isaac Herzog said: “I applaud Robert Kraft’s decision to focus his energies and the Genesis Prize award funds on combating anti-Semitism, the de-legitimization of Israel, and racially-motivated hate crimes. The rising tide of anti-Semitism is a threat not only to Jews, but to the very fabric of any democratic society where it is allowed to take place. We cannot be blind to history’s lessons. The time to act is now.”
Larry Summers, a member of the Genesis Prize Committee, President Emeritus of Harvard University, and the United States Treasury Secretary in the Clinton Administration, said: “Robert Kraft’s extraordinary vision and leadership brought enthusiasm and pride to the world of sports. His compassionate philanthropy and the charitable programs funded by the New England Patriots touch many lives in the United States and Israel. He is an American patriot and a great global citizen firmly connected to his Jewish heritage and devoted to the State of Israel. He is truly a worthy Genesis Prize Laureate.”
“I am honored to receive the Genesis Prize and thank the Genesis Prize Foundation for its recognition and willingness to direct my prize monies to such worthy causes,” said Kraft. “This award amplifies my ability to raise both awareness and additional funds to fight anti-Semitism, attempts to de-legitimize Israel and other forms of prejudices. It is important that we continue to support organizations that focus on combatting prejudices by building bridges and uniting people of different backgrounds.”
Robert Kraft becomes the seventh Genesis Prize Honoree. Previous honorees include U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who received the Lifetime Achievement Award; former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg; actor, producer and peace activist Michael Douglas; “fiddler to the world” maestro Itzhak Perlman; sculptor and advocate for refugees Anish Kapoor; and actress Natalie Portman, one of the leaders of the women’s empowerment movement.
“We are delighted to welcome Robert Kraft to the outstanding family of Genesis Prize Laureates,” said Stan Polovets, co-Founder and Chairman of The Genesis Prize Foundation. “I cannot think of a more worthy laureate to follow U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whom we honored last July. Like Ginsburg, Kraft has spent most of his life advocating for a more just society, tolerance and inclusiveness. He is one of the world’s most generous philanthropists whose charitable giving reflects the Jewish value of tikkun olam – repairing the world.”
Polovets added: “Our foundation looks forward to working with Robert and leveraging the power of sports to combat anti-Semitism and other forms of hate and prejudice.”
About Robert Kraft
Kraft is the founder, chairman and CEO of the Kraft Group, the holding company of the Kraft family’s diversified portfolio of businesses, which includes one of the largest privately-owned paper and packaging conglomerates in the world. He is internationally recognized as the owner of the National Football League’s (NFL) New England Patriots, which he helped transform from a losing franchise when he bought the team in 1994 into one of the most dominant teams in the history of professional sports. Under Kraft’s leadership over the past 25 years, the Patriots have appeared in an unprecedented nine Super Bowls, winning five NFL championships, and have accumulated the highest winning percentage of any team in American professional sports.
Born in an observant Jewish home, Robert Kraft was taught the importance of helping others from an early age. Kraft and his various foundations have given away close to half a billion dollars to charity, focusing on education, healthcare and programs that foster cultural diversity and inter-faith understanding. Kraft is also one of the largest donors to Jewish and Israeli causes, as well as a major investor in the Israeli economy.
About the Genesis Prize
The Genesis Prize is a global award created to celebrate Jewish achievement and contribution to humanity. Launched in 2013, the Prize is financed through a permanent endowment of $100 million established by The Genesis Prize Foundation. All previous laureates have selected causes about which they are passionate and donated prize funds to philanthropic initiatives supporting these causes. These initiatives have included support of social entrepreneurship based on Jewish values, inclusiveness of intermarried families in Jewish life, improving the lives of individuals with special needs, helping to alleviate the global refugee crisis, and advancing women’s equality. In addition to directing funds to these causes, the Laureates have engaged in yearlong initiatives developed jointly with The Genesis Prize Foundation.
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