Netanyahu Presents ‘Jewish Nobel’ to Violinist Itzhak Perlman
Jerusalem (TPS) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu awarded the Genesis Prize, also known as the “The Jewish Nobel,” to world-renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman, in a special ceremony hosted by acclaimed Hollywood actress Helen Mirren on Thursday evening. The ceremony took place at the Jerusalem Theater in front of numerous Israeli dignitaries and international figures. Both Mirren and Perlman spent a very busy week in Jerusalem prior to the award ceremony, appearing in various press conferences and events and visiting sites across the city.
The Tel Aviv-born Perlman, who contracted polio at the age four and lost the use of his legs, is a long-time advocate for rights of the disabled. The international virtuoso of the violin took the time earlier in the week to participate in a marathon for 170 athletes with disabilities held in Jerusalem, in partnership with Etgarim, the Israel Association for the Disabled.
“You are an advocate for those whose bodies are disable but whose spirits never are,” Netanyahu told Perlamn during the ceremony. “Winning the Prize is not the end but the beginning.”
Perlman said that he plans to utilize the Genesis Prize award of $1 million for projects for people with disabilities as well as music programming for the young in North America and Israel. During a press conference at the Jerusalem Press Club on Wednesday, Perlman told reporters that it was an honor to receive the award, now in its third year.
“The Genesis Prize is especially meaningful to me – to receive this award here in Israel in the country of my birth,” commented Perlman, who left Israel when he was 13 after completing his initial training at the Academy of Music in Tel Aviv. Appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show soon after arriving to the US, Perlman propelled into the international arena.
Perlman went on to study at the Julliard School, where he teaches today. He has performed as a conductor with major orchestras across the world including with the New York Philharmonic, Montreal Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic and Israel Philharmonic. In addition, Perlman has been awarded 16 Grammy Awards and four Emmy Awards, most recently for the PBS documentary, Fiddling for the Future, a film about the Perlman Music program, founded by him and his wife, Toby, for young musicians that need support to enable their music talents to flourish.
He has also been involved with major movie music, collaborating on scores for American films, Schindler’s List and Memoirs of a Geisha as well as the 2002 Chinese film, Hero.
Perlman, father of five, will mark his 70th birthday with three album releases. The household name in classical music will also perform in worldwide concert tours. “What keeps me a young 70 is continuing to teach, conduct and perform,” he said.
When asked what the secret for his musical success is, Perlman told Tazpit Press Service (TPS) that his career required long hours of work and practice. “I worked hard all my life,” he told TPS. “It’s all about the work – along with some talent,” he said with a smile.
The Genesis Prize is a global award designed to celebrate Jewish identity and achievement, and was co-founded by Michael Fridman, an international businessman and philanthropist of Russian-Jewish heritage, along with partners, German Khan, Peter Aven and Stan Polovets. Launched in 2013, the award operates as a partnership between the Prime Minister’s Office of the State of Israel, The Office of the Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency for Israel, and the Genesis Prize Foundation, whose offices are in New York and Tel Aviv. The award is financed by the Genesis Prize Foundation, which relies on a permanent endowment of $100 million.
The two previous recipients of the Genesis Prize have been the 2014 laureate, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, and 2015 laureate, Hollywood actor Michael Douglas.