Michael Douglas is the recipient of the $1 million 2015 Genesis Prize. The $1 million prize will be awarded in Jerusalem by Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky and the prime minister of Israel on June 18.
Douglas said he plans to use the prize money to raise awareness of inclusiveness and diversity in Judaism. “I share this award with my family, who encouraged me in my exploration of the Jewish faith,” Douglas said. “I hope these teachings and values will be part of the legacy in the world that I leave for my children and those who follow.” Douglas, 70, was not raised Jewish. His father, the actor Kirk Douglas, is Jewish, but his mother is Anglican. Douglas has embraced the Jewish faith and considers himself a Reform Jew. Last year he took his son, Dylan, to Jerusalem for his bar mitzvah. “It is an unconventional choice,” said Stan Polovets, co-founder and chairman of the Genesis Prize Foundation, according to the Los Angeles Times.
In a statement, Polovets said Douglas was chosen for “his professional achievements and for his passion for his Jewish heritage and the Jewish state.” He added, “The Douglas family’s experience of connecting with its heritage and embracing it on their own terms embodies an inclusive approach for Jews of diverse backgrounds. This is particularly important today, when the question of what it means to be Jewish has become more pressing than ever.”
The foundation is endowed by the Genesis Philanthropy Group, a consortium of philanthropists from the former Soviet Union.