Jan 15, 2015 11:57 AM
Israel awards actor Michael Douglas $1 million prize
The Associated Press
JERUSALEM (AP) Actor Michael Douglas has been awarded the $1 million Genesis Prize award, popularly dubbed the "Jewish Nobel Prize," for his efforts to promote Jewish culture.
The Genesis Prize Foundation said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will present the award at a ceremony in Jerusalem this summer to the "actor, producer and peace activist."
The prize was inaugurated last year in a partnership between the Israeli prime minister's office, the Genesis Philanthropy Group and the chairman's office of the Jewish Agency, a nonprofit group with close ties to the Israeli government.
It is awarded to an individual with a commitment to Jewish values, the Jewish community and the state of Israel.
Genesis chairman Stan Polovets said in a statement issued Wednesday that Douglas was being honored "both for his professional achievements and for his passion for his Jewish heritage and the Jewish state."
Douglas' father, actor Kirk Douglas, is Jewish, and Michael Douglas has embraced his Jewish ancestry and supports Jewish causes. He traveled to Israel last year with his wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones, to celebrate the bar mitzvah of their son Dylan. The foundation praised the family's "inclusive approach for Jews of diverse backgrounds."
In the statement, the 70-year-old Oscar-winning actor praised his family for encouraging him to explore the Jewish faith. "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," he said.
It said Douglas would direct his prize money to promote inclusiveness and diversity in Judaism.
Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg was the recipient of the first prize last year. Late night comedy legend Jay Leno presented the award to Bloomberg, who was honored for his long record of public service and philanthropy.