Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is to award former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg with the first Genesis Award for his contributions to humanity and the upholding of Jewish values.
Bloomberg intends to come to Israel in May for the ceremony.
The inaugural award, which goes to Jewish luminaries in the fields of science, the arts, business and diplomacy, comes with a $1 million prize that billionaire businessman Bloomberg will reportedly donate to improving trade relations between Palestinians and Israelis.
Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky, who also headed the award’s selection committee, lauded the decision to award the billionaire for his business acumen and philanthropy.
“I am confident that the combination of leadership and philanthropy of mayor Bloomberg... will make the event a celebration of Jewish identity and values here in Jerusalem,” said Sharansky.
In addition to Bloomberg, world renowned pianist Evgeny Kissin, who became an Israeli citizen last year, will perform at the ceremony.
“The opportunity to appear in Jerusalem – the capital of the Jewish state and the spiritual center of our people – at an event that commemorates our commitment to global Jewish values will help me to realize my dream to make sure that future generations will draw the same inspiration from their roots and culture,” said Kissin.
The recipient of the Genesis Prize is selected from a list of candidates proposed by the heads of hundreds of Jewish institutions around the globe.
The award is overseen by the Prime Minister’s Office, Genesis Philanthropy Group and the Jewish Agency.
The Genesis Philanthropy Group was founded by Jews from the former Soviet Union and it promotes Jewish identity among Russian- speaking Jews throughout the world. Bloomberg is the grandson of immigrants from Russia and Belarus.