Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones to co-host Genesis Prize in Israel

The $1 million prize, named the “Jewish Nobel” by Time Magazine, is being awarded to Natan Sharansky for his advocacy of human rights, democracy, and efforts to unify the Jewish people.

Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas (photo credit: BRUCE GLIKAS/GETTY IMAGES)
Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas
The Genesis Prize Foundation announced on Wednesday that actress Catherine Zeta-Jones and her actor/producer husband, Michael Douglas, will cohost the 2020 Genesis Prize Ceremony.
The ceremony is scheduled to take place on June 18 at the Jerusalem International Convention Center, honoring Jewish hero, human rights activist and former chairman of the Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky.
The $1 million prize, named the “Jewish Nobel” by Time magazine, is being awarded to Sharansky for his advocacy of human rights, democracy and efforts to unify the Jewish people.
Prize funds have previously been donated to causes that the award winners have been passionate about, ranging from combating antisemitism, to fighting delegitimization of Israel, to including intermarried couples in the Jewish community, to improving the lives of people with special needs, to advancing women’s rights and decreasing the global refugee crisis.
Sharansky will become the seventh recipient of this award, after former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, actor and producer Michael Douglas, violinist Itzhak Perlman, sculptor and advocate Sir Anish Kapoor, actress Natalie Portman, and owner of the New England Patriots Robert Kraft.
US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg also received an inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award from the Genesis Prize Foundation in 2018.
After winning the prize himself in 2015 for his contribution to the film world, his work as the United Nations Messenger of Peace, and his passion for the Jewish state, Douglas will return this year to honor Sharansky.
“His deeply personal story of connecting with Jewish identity and culture, and advocating for a more inclusive Jewish community, resonated across the world, touching the hearts of many and prompting them to start their own journeys of discovery. I am very glad to see this journey continue and look forward to welcoming Michael and Catherine in Jerusalem in June,” said Stan Polovets, co-founder and chairman of the Genesis Prize Foundation, of Douglas.
Zeta-Jones was last in Israel in 2015, when her husband was awarded the prize. This year, she will return to Israel to be on stage to present the prize.
“Catherine and I look forward to returning to Israel, a country our entire family loves so much. We are particularly honored to have the opportunity to host the ceremony honoring a true Jewish hero, Natan Sharansky,” said Douglas.
“Coming to Jerusalem this year is also important for our family as a way to honor the memory of my father, Kirk Douglas. He adored Israel, and had a special connection with Jerusalem ever since he visited to make the film Cast a Giant Shadow in 1965. His rediscovery of his Jewish faith, his passion for his heritage, has been a guiding light for me, passed down to my children.”
The Genesis Prize Foundation is also planning a special ceremony to commemorate Kirk Douglas and his connection to Judaism when Zeta-Jones and Douglas come to Israel in the spring.
“It’s wonderful that Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones – two megastars, activists and friends of Israel – are coming to Jerusalem to cohost the Genesis Prize Ceremony,” said Sharansky. “I had the pleasure of participating together with Michael in a series of meetings with American Jewish students at different universities. I came to appreciate firsthand Michael’s passion for Jewish unity, his commitment to inclusiveness and tolerance, belief in tikkun olam, and his uncompromising stance against antisemitism and other forms of bigotry.”