Recently Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu joined Itzhak and Toby Perlman to announce the seventeen Genesis Prize winners of the Itzhak Perlman’s Breaking Barriers Competition to promote the inclusion of people with disabilities in all aspects of Jewish communal life.
“The work of Itzhak Perlman and the Genesis Prize gives hope for the next generation of activists and artists and spotlights the importance of universal Jewish values,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the ceremony.
The competition is a part of the Breaking Barriers initiative, funded by the prize money awarded to Genesis Prize laureate Perlman and supported by Matan – United Way Israel and the Jewish Funders Network.
“People with disabilities are citizens who deserve equal rights,” Perlman said at Sunday’s ceremony. “If we fight for their rights, we can expand their opportunities and we will give them the tools to contribute to society – this is the Israel we all want to see for ourselves and our children.”
The array of winners were mostly from the musical world, with organizations like the Vertigo Dance Association, the Orna Porat theater and the Jerusalem Conservatory Hassadna among the group of honorees.
This is keeping with Perlman’s two passions: inclusiveness for all and a love of music.
Matan – United Way Israel will help distribute the prize money (totaling NIS 3.2 million) to the various organizations and, along with Perlman and the Genesis Prize Foundation, helped select the winners after over 70 applications were received.
Ahuva Yanai, CEO of Matan – United Way Israel, said, “I’m grateful to the Genesis Prize and maestro Itzhak Perlman for entrusting that we will stay true to the vision of selecting organizations that connect both advocating for disabilities and the classical arts. At Matan, we feel we have a special responsibility to help organizations create change for the advancement of Israeli society as a whole and especially for those with special needs.”
Sana Britavsky, deputy CEO of the Genesis Prize Foundation, agreed, saying, “The uniqueness of Itzhak Perlman’s initiative is that the selected projects aim to raise the standards of cultural content provided to the disabled in Israel as high as possible.
These are courageous initiatives that aspire to use art as a tool to expose the full spiritual potential of those with disabilities – for their benefit and for the benefit of all of Israeli society.
“Encouraging excellence and repairing the world are integral parts of the vision of the Genesis Prize,” she added.
Genesis Prize committee chairman and Jewish Agency head Natan Sharansky said,“Thank you to Itzhak Perlman for giving all these Israeli organizations a chance to let their participants connect to the rest of society. His leadership strengthens the Genesis Prize’s message to show that connecting with your Jewish roots is more relevant than ever.”
Reprinted from The Jerusalem Post by Noa Amouyal