Win for Israelis with Disabilities as Itzhak Perlman starts “re-gifting” his Genesis Prize award

Itzhak Perlman

Stan Polovets at the Genesis Prize Foundation just shared the great news that music superstar Itzhak Perlman has started “re-gifting” his Genesis Prize award. When Perlman received the Genesis Prize, he announced that he would be directing his award to projects aimed at helping individuals with disabilities, placing a special emphasis on organizations that help improve access of people with disabilities to music and other forms of cultural events.

One of the features that makes the Genesis Prize truly unique is the tradition whereby each of the Genesis Prize Laureates “re-gifts” the $1 million award to a philanthropic cause he/she cares about and which resonates with the global Jewish community. The Genesis Prize foundation then works with other philanthropists who are interested in this cause and who are prepared to commit additional funds and partner with Genesis and its Laureate. Philanthropist Roman Abramovich matched Perlman’s $1 million award with an additional $1 million, and through a matching grants competition organized by Jewish Funders Network (JFN), a further $750,000 is expected to be raised by the end of May. For full disclosure, RespectAbility has recruited two outstanding philanthropists to donate a total of $75K towards this effort, and has applied for the American part of the match.

While we are awaiting the results of JFN’s competition, I am pleased to share with you the announcement made by Perlman earlier this month regarding his gifts to Israeli organizations.

On Sunday, April 2, at a reception at the Office of the Prime Minister of Israel, Perlman announced 14 recipients of Genesis Prize grants in Israel. Included among the winners is the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, and its project dedicated to children and adolescents with special needs. The initiative will introduce children to the benefits of artistic and cultural enrichment through specially tailored tours, after-school activities designed to encourage self-expression, and interactive workshops. The project aims to have a total of 2,000 participants with disabilities in 230 one-time encounters and 15 ongoing meetings.

Another project is Jordan River Village, a year-round overnight camp for children with disabilities. The project being implemented with Perlman’s grant will introduce children to music through workshops on various musical genres. The group anticipates holding 200 workshops with 2400 children and family members participating during the grant period. Other recipients are:

In addition to grants distributed in Israel, Genesis Prize Foundation made a significant gift in honor of Mr. Perlman to the Maccabi World Union in order to bring Russian Jewish Paralympic athletes to the 20th Maccabiah Games in Israel this July. This gift was made possible due to the abovementioned contribution of Roman Abramovich and his wife Dasha Zhukova.

No matter who the foundation is able to match through JFN, however, it is a big win for people with disabilities. The new funding in Israel will enable people with disabilities to have the same opportunities to experience culture as anyone else. Moreover, as the impact of the prize moves to the United States, it is a wonderful role model to see Perlman, who is twice exceptional (both significant abilities and disabilities), recognized with such a prestigious award in the Jewish community. During the Passover season, when we remember the legacy of Moses, who too was twice exceptional with his speech disorder and his connection to G-d, this is especially meaningful.

About the Author
Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi is the President of, a non profit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for people with disabilities. She is also the co-founder/director of the Mizrahi Family Charitable Trust. The views are her own and do not reflect those of any organization.
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