Natan Sharansky Is Using His ‘Jewish Nobel’ Winnings To Help Vulnerable People Affected By COVID-19

May 4, 2020

As reported by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Combat Anti-Semitism Movement board member and human rights activist Natan Sharansky, will now be donating his $1 million Genesis Prize award to organizations fighting the coronavirus pandemic in support of individuals most affected by the crisis in the United States, Israel and in seven other countries.

The former Soviet dissident turned Israeli politician, was selected as the eighth Genesis Prize award winner in December 2019. Sharansky had initially planned to donate the proceeds of the award towards supporting Zionism and human rights. The coronavirus is a “new challenge, a new enemy,” Sharansky told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. His other interests, he said, “can wait a little bit.”

Nine organizations in Israel will receive grants from the award money, focused on assisting vulnerable populations as well as advancing medical and scientific innovation in the fight against the virus. Grants will also be given to support isolated and elderly Jews in Rome, Madrid, Paris, Moscow, the United Kingdom, Ukraine and Belarus. In the United States, funding will be allocated for research at Columbia University Irving Medical Center and New York University Tandon School of Engineering. Additionally, Hebrew Free Loan, a Jewish loan society, will receive a grant to provide interest-free assistance to individuals affected by the economic disruption from the pandemic.

The Genesis Prize, known as the “Jewish Nobel,” was started in 2013 and is financed through a permanent $100 million endowment. The annual award honors “extraordinary individuals for their outstanding professional achievement, contribution to humanity and commitment to Jewish values.” Previous winners of the prize include New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and musician Itzak Perlman. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg received a lifetime achievement award from Genesis in 2018.

“I hope there will be much more unity in general of people all around the world,” he said, adding that he hoped the moment would increase “our understanding that there are things we can fight and defeat all together. “Let’s hope that will remain when this drama will be behind us,” Sharansky said.

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