Actor Michael Douglas, winner of this year's million dollar Genesis Prize, has arrived in Israel to receive his award. The award will be presented to Douglas on June 18, in a special ceremony at the Jerusalem Theater. The prize will be presented by comedian Jay Leno, along with supermodel and actress Bar Refaeli.
The Genesis Prize is awarded annually by the Genesis Prize Foundation, in partnership with the Office of the Prime Minister of the State of Israel and the Jewish Agency for Israel, to individuals who have accomplished major life achievements, and are advocates for the Jewish community and Israel. Douglas, said the Foundation, fits both criteria.
The famous actor, the winner of two Academy Awards, four Golden Globe Awards, and an Emmy Award, also serves as a United Nations Messenger for Peace.
Douglas plans to use the prize money “toward promoting activities designed to raise awareness of inclusiveness and diversity in Judaism,” he said. “I share this award with my family, who encouraged me in my exploration of 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.”
Stan Polovets, co-founder and chairman of the Genesis Prize Foundation, says the foundation is "proud to honor Michael Douglas, both for his professional achievements and for his passion for his Jewish heritage and the Jewish State."
The choice of Douglas for the award may be viewed as controversial as he is the son of a Jewish father – famous actor Kirk Douglas (born Issur Danielovitch) – and a non-Jewish mother. He was also not raised in the Jewish faith, but rather embraced it later in life.
“It is an unconventional choice," Polovets agreed, but noted that “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.”