Israel’s Genesis Prize awarded to Sharansky

December 25, 2020 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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President of Israel Reuven Rivlin hosted the 2020 Genesis Prize ceremony, awarded to Natan Sharansky. Sharansky, a former Prisoner of Zion, human rights activist and politician was chosen to receive the prize for his service over many years to the Jewish people and the State of Israel.

Natan Sharansky and President Rivlin. Photo: Mark Neyman

Genesis Prize winners over the years choose a philanthropic idea that is personally significant and important for them, and distribute grants to organizations that work in the field. This year, Sharansky has decided to allocate his prize money of $1m to philanthropic initiatives in the field of halting the spread of corona and in helping those who have been affected by the disease. At the ceremony, Sharansky, the Genesis Fund and Start-Up Nation Central announced the winners of the start-up competition for those offering technology solutions relevant to the fight against corona.

Hundreds of Israeli start-ups and organizations, such as Israel Aerospace Industries, participated in the competition. 21 companies were shortlisted for the second round of the competition, and today the ten winners were announced. The distinguished judging panel included leading scientists, doctors and philanthropists, including Dr. David Ogus, CEO of Start-Up Nation Central Prof. Eugene Kandel and philanthropist and founder of SpaceIL Morris Kahan.

The president told Sharansky: “Natan, you never rest. You took on new roles to promote Jewish unity, strengthen Israeli society, and fight anti-Semitism. It is, therefore, no surprise that you have chosen to use the $1 million Genesis Prize money and to give that money to philanthropic and high-tech initiatives that are trying to address the greatest challenge facing the world today, the coronavirus. The grants were made with a particular focus on the most vulnerable populations in Israel. Thank you, Natan, my dear friend! I know that you will not stop here. You will continue to take on new challenges and to fight for the Jewish people and for human rights. We are all looking forward to seeing what you do next.”

“Natan, as a Prisoner of Zion who turned into a Proud Defender of Zion, there is no one more deserving of this prize. You are a source of inspiration for us all. Mazal tov to you, to Avital, and to your wonderful family,” added the president. “Thank you to the leadership of the Genesis Prize for your important work, not only to strengthen Jewish pride and unity, but to do so through Tikkun Olam, by bringing together the Jewish People through helping those in need, both in Israel and around the world,” he said at the end of his remarks.

Natan Sharansky responded: “I was chosen to receive the Genesis Prize nearly a year ago and so much has changed since then. I would like to thank the Genesis Prize for the opportunity to make a significant contribution to fight the disease. Facing the social challenges that Israel faces, the contribution of the Israeli hi-tech industry to the global fight against corona is a great source of pride that warms my heart. The most basic Jewish value of mutual assistance has been realized – and I call on other Israeli companies to join this effort.”

Co-founder, Chairman and CEO of the Genesis Prize Stan Polovets: “The competition in honor of Natan Sharansky showed the innovative potential of the Israeli bio-tech and hi-tech industries. The participants displayed world-class expertise and ability in responding to the unprecedented health challenge that the whole world is facing. Israeli companies and entrepreneurs are taking their place in the world as suppliers of innovative solutions in the field of heath and technology and we are glad to support that growth.”

“The State of Israel is very experienced in dealing with emergency situations and in ground-breaking innovative thinking – two important advantages for Israel and the countries of the world in fighting the spread of the coronavirus and its implications,” said Prof. Eugene Kandel, CEO of Start-Up Nation Central (SNC). We are very proud of the competition winners, and of the whole Israeli innovation community and its significant contribution to the global fight against corona.”

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