June 20, 2019, Jerusalem – Tonight, the Laureate of the 2019 Genesis Prize Robert Kraft was honored at a gala ceremony in Jerusalem. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Genesis Prize Foundation Chairman Stan Polovets bestowed the award on Kraft in front of an audience of 600 Israeli and international dignitaries.
The $1 million Genesis Prize, dubbed “the Jewish Nobel” by Time Magazine, honors extraordinary individuals for outstanding professional achievement, contribution to humanity, and commitment to Jewish values. Previous honorees include U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg; philanthropist and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg; actor, producer and peace activist Michael Douglas; and “Fiddler to the world” maestro Itzhak Perlman.
Prime Minister Netanyahu said: “I am delighted to welcome Robert Kraft to the august family of Genesis Prize Laureates. This prestigious award honors Robert’s generous life-long philanthropy, his commitment to the Jewish people, and his love for Israel. It also recognizes his principled stand against anti-Semitism and efforts by our enemies to undermine the State of Israel through BDS and other similar campaigns. Israel does not have a more loyal friend than Robert Kraft.”
Kraft previously announced he would forgo the $1 million monetary award so that the funds could be granted to initiatives combating anti-Semitism, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS), and other efforts to delegitimize Israel. This is in line with the tradition established by previous Genesis Prize Laureates, who have “re-gifted” their awards to philanthropic causes they support.
Kraft used his acceptance speech to announce the establishment of a foundation dedicated to combating anti-Semitism. Kraft has already raised over $30 million at its launch by seeding the foundation with a $20 million personal donation and two $5 million gifts, including one by Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich. Kraft invited other philanthropists to join him in making contributions to fund this foundation to fight anti-Semitism.
“The new foundation I am announcing tonight is a platform to galvanize the global fight against anti-Semitism, uniting all people of good conscience around this goal,” said Robert Kraft. “My vision is to work to end the violence against Jewish communities. To counter the normalization of anti-Semitic narratives that question Israel’s right to exist, disguised as part of legitimate debate on campuses and in the media. To educate, to inform, and to heal inter-communal relations. In combating the scourge of anti-Semitism, my solemn ambition is to counter all forms of intolerance in the spirit of the ancient Jewish value of tikkun olam – to heal and repair the world.”
“From Pittsburgh to Paris, from San Diego to Berlin, Jewish communities have been under attack,” said Stan Polovets. “We can no longer be complacent or pretend these are isolated incidents. Make no mistake; the wave of anti-Semitism is rising once again. Tonight, we stand together with Robert Kraft in our determination to turn back this tide of darkness and to channel significant human and financial resources toward this goal.”
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 programmatic initiatives developed jointly with The Genesis Prize Foundation.
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 11 Super Bowls, winning six NFL championships, and have accumulated the highest winning percentage of any team in American professional sports.
Born into 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.