The Genesis Prize Foundation departed from the traditional, closed-door process on Wednesday by sharing the names of short-listed nominees for the award and asking the public to vote for next year’s laureate.

The seven individuals on the list have been selected from more than 4,000 names nominated by some 45,000 people worldwide and include:

• Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Elena Kagan (United States)
• Actor, producer, director and vocal critic of social-media platforms Sacha Baron Cohen (United Kingdom)
• Singer and actress Barbra Streisand (United States)
• Theologian, author and former Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom Lord Jonathan Sacks (United Kingdom)
• Actress, producer and advocate for the empowerment of young women Gal Gadot (Israel)
• Founder of Salesforce, owner of Time magazine and mega-philanthropist Marc Benioff (United States)
• Film director, producer and screenwriter Steven Spielberg (United States)

“The recipient of the 2021 Genesis Prize, dubbed ‘The Jewish Nobel’ by Time magazine, will follow the human-rights legend Natan Sharansky, who was honored with the award in 2020,” the foundation said in a statement. “Other previous honorees include former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and virtuoso violinist Itzhak Perlman.

In the past, the committees choosing the Laureate never revealed the names of the nominees and only announced their final selection,” it continued.

According to the organization, the annual $1 million Genesis Prize honors extraordinary individuals for their outstanding professional achievement, contribution to humanity and commitment to Jewish values.

“The seven short-listed nominees have been selected as a result of a month-long global online nominations campaign. For the first time since the Prize was awarded in 2013, the process was open to the public. In previous years, only a select group of prominent Jewish and non-Jewish individuals was invited to nominate the candidates,” it said.

Co-founder and chairman of The Genesis Prize Foundation Stan Polovets said: “The Genesis Prize is evolving from an elite committee-driven process to a more inclusive approach that seeks to engage the entire Jewish world. The voice of the Jewish people—from all walks of life, different demographic groups, and across generations—will now become an extremely important factor in the nomination and selection of our distinguished honorees. While members of the Selection Committee and the Prize Committee will make the ultimate decision, our foundation has asked them to give considerable weight to the popular vote as they start their deliberations regarding the 2021 Genesis Prize Laureate.

Chairman of the Genesis Prize Selection Committee and chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel Isaac Herzog said: “I thank the 45,000 people who showed that they care deeply about the Jewish future and the bond between the State of Israel and the Diaspora by taking the time to nominate individuals who could be role models for the next generation of Jews. The quality, diversity and accomplishments of the nominees are amazing and will make it very difficult for the judges to select one winner from a short list of seven outstanding individuals.”

The 2021 Laureate will be announced early next year, along with the philanthropic initiative to which the $1 million prize will be donated.

Voting starts on Wednesday online via this link.

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

Support Jewish Journalism
with 2020 Vision

One of the most intriguing stories of the sudden Coronavirus crisis is the role of the internet. With individuals forced into home quarantine, most are turning further online for information, education and social interaction.

JNS's influence and readership are growing exponentially, and our positioning sets us apart. Most Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas. JNS is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

During this crisis, JNS continues working overtime. We are being relied upon to tell the story of this crisis as it affects Israel and the global Jewish community, and explain the extraordinary political developments taking place in parallel.

Our ability to thrive in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters. Monthly donations in particular go a long way in helping us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make during these challenging times. We thank you for your ongoing support and wish you blessings for good health and peace of mind.