Last year, Michael Bloomberg was awarded $1,000,000 as the inaugural recipient of the Genesis Prize, or the “Jewish Nobel Prize,” given to Jewish leaders who promote and uphold Jewish values. From that award, the former mayor of New York created the Genesis Generation Challenge, for which entrants submit new programs that aim to have a positive worldwide impact, from public health, to financial empowerment, all, said the selection committee, reflecting Jewish values.
Yesterday, a group of benefactors including Michael Bloomberg, Michael Douglas, and Elie Wiesel announced the winners, who will each receive a $100,000 grant. (Douglas won the this year’s Genesis Prize.)
“The diverse group of winners—who do not have to be Jewish—included a nonprofit looking to make an app that will monitor Lou Gehrig’s disease patients, a Kenyan green sanitation treatment plan, and an Israeli company developing a smartphone for people without use of their hands,” reported the New York Daily News.
One winning team, Build Israel and Palestine, facilitates the collaboration of Jewish and Muslim young adults on development projects in Israel and Palestine, including managing the flow of sewage between the two localities.
In conjunction with this announcement, Bloomberg and Natan Sharansky, Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency, co-authored an op-ed in the Jerusalem Post stating that programs like the Genesis Generation Challenge reflect the still-strong bond between the U.S. and Israel.
“The relationship between our two countries transcends our national leaders, partisan politics and election campaigns,” they wrote. “It is not defined by Congress and the Knesset any more than it is defined by the president and prime minister. Political leaders come and go. Diplomatic dances change rhythm in concert with world events… Yet through it all, the US-Israeli bond grows stronger, because it is based not on our inherently different politics, but on our intrinsically common democratic values: free elections, free markets and free speech.”