Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
Itzhak Perlman performs for US President George W. Bush, Queen Elizabeth II, and invited guests in the East Room of the White House following a State Dinner in Washington, D.C., May 7, 2007. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
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Itzhak Perlman Awarded $1 Million Genesis Prize

The virtuoso violinist was given the ‘Jewish Nobel Prize,’ following previous recipients Michael Douglas and Michael Bloomberg

by
Jonathan Zalman
December 14, 2015
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
Itzhak Perlman performs for US President George W. Bush, Queen Elizabeth II, and invited guests in the East Room of the White House following a State Dinner in Washington, D.C., May 7, 2007. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

It’s been quite a year for Itzhak Perlman, and deservedly so.

In August, the Israeli-born “patron saint of concert violinists,” turned 70 years old, just a few months after a 25-CD box set was released consisting of his most prominent decades (the 1960’s through the 1990’s). In November, Perlman was among the many awarded with the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House, where he took selfies with Barbra Streisand and Steven Spielberg.

Perlman’s winning streak continued on Monday when he learned he would be awarded the Genesis Prize, which is being branded as “The Jewish Nobel Prize.” The prize, which was established by Russian philanthropists, “honors individuals who have attained excellence and international renown in their chosen professional fields, and who inspire others through their engagement and dedication to the Jewish community and/or the State of Israel.” Word.

Last year’s winner was Michael Douglas, who spoke of his Jewish pride when he received the award. The inaugural award went to former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Perlman exhibited a similar pride and humility upon learning of his honor. “As far as I’m concerned, that’s what this prize is all about—the opportunity to do good in the world, to do good as a Jew, to do as they say tikkun olam, to make things better for people,” Perlman said. “My involvement obviously, first, is as a musician, and second, or even first, as a person who has a disability. So these two aspects of what I’m interested in is something that I’m thinking about.”

Here’s the 16-time Grammy Award winner performing on The Ed Sullivan Show when he was 13 years old:

Jonathan Zalman is a writer and teacher based in Brooklyn.

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