JERUSALEM–Israeli born American actress, director and social activist Natalie Portman won the 2018 Genesis Prize.
This annual $1 million award is known as the ‘Jewish Nobel’. It honors “extraordinary individuals who serve as an inspiration to the next generation of Jews through their outstanding professional achievement, commitment to Jewish values and to the Jewish people.”
The prize selection committee, headed by Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky, acknowledged Portman as a globally-acclaimed actress and director.
Stan Polovets, co-founder and chairman of the Genesis Prize Foundation said that, “Natalie’s charismatic on-screen presence has touched the hearts of millions. Her talent, her commitment to social causes and her deep connection to her Jewish and Israeli roots are greatly admired. She exemplifies the core traits of the Jewish character and values of the Jewish people – persistence and hard work, pursuit of excellence, intellectual curiosity and a heartfelt desire to contribute to making the world a better place. Without a doubt, she is a role model for millions of young Jews around the world.”
“I am deeply touched and humbled by this honor,” Portman said. “"It exemplifies the Jewish value of Tikkun Olam, or ‘mending the world," she added. "I I am proud of my Israeli roots and Jewish heritage; they are crucial parts of who I am. It is such a privilege to be counted among the outstanding Laureates whom I admire so much. I express my heartfelt gratitude to the Genesis Prize Foundation, and look forward to using the global platform it provides to make a difference in the lives of women in Israel and beyond.”
Portman is the fifth recipient of the prize since it was first awarded in 2014 to former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The other recipients are Actor and peace activist Michael Douglas (2015); violinist and advocate for people with disabilities Itzhak Perlman (2016); and prominent sculptor and activist for the rights of refugees, Sir Anish Kapoor (2017).
In keeping with the tradition established by the previous Genesis Prize Laureates, $1 million in award money will be granted to philanthropic programs in honor of Natalie Portman. The programs will focus on advancing women’s equality in all aspects of human endeavor. In particular, funds will be used for grants to organizations involved in promoting women’s educational opportunities, economic advancement, health and safety and full participation in policy formulation and political activity. A significant portion of the funds will be channeled to programs advancing women’s equality in Israel.