October 26, 2020 – Today, the Genesis Prize Foundation (GPF) announced that it has extended the voting deadline for the 2021 Laureate until November 30. Voting was previously set to close this week.
“We have received an overwhelmingly positive response to our invitation to members of the global Jewish community to participate in the selection of the Genesis Prize laureate this year,” said Stan Polovets, Co-founder and Chairman of GPF. “This is the first year we have opened the voting to the public, and the level of enthusiasm and excitement from virtually every demographic group throughout the world has exceeded our highest expectations.”
Since online voting started, over 2 million people have engaged with the Genesis Prize on social media, viewing, discussing and sharing content. More than 100,000 Jews from over a dozen different countries have cast their votes for the 2021 Genesis Prize Laureate. The Foundation continues to receive thousands of votes each day; tens of thousands more share and comment on the original content, featuring each of the seven nominees for the 2021 award.
“To date, online votes for the Genesis Prize Laureate came from Israel, United States, Russia, Canada, UK, South Africa, Ukraine, Australia, France, Germany, Mexico, Argentina, Spain and several other countries,” said Polovets. “The extension of the voting deadline will provide an opportunity to members of sizeable Jewish communities in a number of additional countries – such as Italy and Brazil - to have their voices heard as well. We also plan to reach out to a younger audience, including 16- and 17-year-olds, allowing us to engage with the Jewish leaders of tomorrow.”
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.
In August, the Foundation announced it has decided to launch an experiment by amending the previously discreet, “closed-door” Laureate nomination and selection process, and invited the public to nominate and vote for short-listed candidates. More than 45,000 people submitted over 4,000 original nominations within three weeks of the announcement.
A list of seven prominent individuals nominated for the Prize was revealed in September. The nominees are:
- Theologian, author and former Chief Rabbi of the UK Lord Jonathan Sacks (UK)
- Actor, producer, director and vocal critic of social media platforms Sacha Baron Cohen (UK)
- Justice of the United States Supreme Court Elena Kagan (US)
- Singer, actor, and social activist Barbra Streisand (US)
- Actor, producer and advocate for the empowerment of young women Gal Gadot (Israel)
- Founder of Salesforce, owner of TIME Magazine, and mega-philanthropist Marc Benioff (US)
- Film director, producer and screenwriter Steven Spielberg (US)
The recipient of the 2021 Genesis Prize will follow the human rights legend Natan Sharansky, who was honored with the award in 2020. Other previous honorees include the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Michael Bloomberg, Michael Douglas, Itzhak Perlman, Anish Kapoor, Natalie Portman, and Robert Kraft.
All Genesis Prize laureates to date have directed their $1 million award, along with additional funds contributed by other donors, to philanthropic causes of their choice. Collectively, initiatives funded by the laureates of the Genesis Prize attracted tens of millions of dollars in funding since 2014.
“The voice of the Jewish people – from all walks of life, across different demographic groups and generations – is now a key factor in the nomination and selection of our distinguished honorees,” said Isaac Herzog, Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, who heads the Genesis Prize Selection Committee. “While members of the Selection Committee and the Prize Committee will make the ultimate decision, we have agreed with the founders of the award that the results of the public vote will be of paramount importance in the selection of the 2021 Genesis Prize Laureate.”
The Genesis Prize Foundation invites those who have not yet voted to vote online at this link. If this experimental approach proves successful, it will be adopted for nomination and selection of all future Laureates.
The 2021 Laureate will be announced early next year, along with the philanthropic initiative to which the $1 million prize and all additional matching funds will be directed.
Alison Karlin, GPF: AKarlin@genesisprize.org, +1-267-738-0677