(JTA) — New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg will be the first recipient of the $1 million Genesis Prize, which is being called the “Jewish Nobel Prize.”
The award will be presented by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in May, when Bloomberg will be a private citizen.
Bloomberg, who leaves office in January, will donate the prize to a philanthropic cause to be named early next year. In the past, the mayor has heavily supported causes in Israel such as Hadassah Medical Center, where he dedicated a wing in honor of his mother, Charlotte, and Magen David Adom, the emergency medical service. He dedicated a center there in memory of his father, Willliam.
“Mayor Bloomberg’s selection as the first Genesis Prize Laureate reflects his track record of outstanding public service and his role as one of the world’s greatest philanthropists," said Yuli Edelstein, speaker of the Knesset and chair of the prize committee.
"As a visionary entrepreneur, he has transformed the way the world conducts business and created a more open and better informed world. Mayor Bloomberg has successfully advanced practical solutions to key global issues that range from education and public health to the environment and global innovation."
Edelstein also noted the mayor's support of Israel and his pride in Jewish identity.
The Genesis Prize Foundation was established in 2012 by the Genesis Philanthropy Group, a consortium of mega-wealthy philanthropist-businessmen from the former Soviet Union including Mikhail M. Fridman, Pyotr Aven and German Khan; the Office of the Prime Minister of Israel; and the Jewish Agency for Israel.
The prize, which will be given out annually, is awarded to an accomplished, internationally renowned professional from anywhere in the world who is a role model in his or her community and who can inspire the younger generation of Jews worldwide, according to the foundation’s website.
Bloomberg was chosen from more than 200 nominees world-wide because of his “track record of outstanding public service and his role as one of the world’s greatest philanthropists,” according to the prize committee, the New York Times reported Sunday.
“Many years ago, my parents instilled in me Jewish values and ethics that I have carried with me throughout my life, and which have guided every aspect of my work in business, government, and philanthropy,” Bloomberg said in a statement issued Sunday, in which he said he was honored to receive the prize, according to the newspaper.
The Prize committee, chaired by Israeli Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, also includes Elie Wiesel, a Nobel laureate and professor at Boston University; Meir Shamgar, justice and president emeritus of the Supreme Court of Israel; and Tova Strasberg-Cohen, retired justice of the Supreme Court of Israel.
Committee members were selected for their outstanding leadership in areas such as international affairs and journalism, human rights and justice, and business and philanthropy, as well as their unwavering support of Jewish causes, according to the foundation.
In a statement, Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, who is on the Genesis prize committee, cited Bloomberg's commitment to health and social justice. "It is a great honor for the entire Jewish people to celebrate his achievements, his commitment to improving the world, and in particular his city: New York."
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