Jewish human rights activist Natan Sharansky has given a share of his $1 million prize money for the annual ‘Jewish Nobel’ to Jewish Care in the UK for staff to buy personal protective equipment.
Russian-born Sharansky, recipient of the Genesis Prize late last year, announced this week that Jewish Care would be one of 15 beneficiaries after he chose to “re-gift” the prize, which was increased by Israeli philanthropist Morris Kahn.
The funds will be used to buy PPE for Jewish Care staff supporting vulnerable residents in care homes, including those receiving end of life care, and will supplement the charity’s existing coronavirus appeal.
“Many people of good will around the world have given generously to help organisations and individuals who have been devastated by COVID-19,” said Sharansky. “I am grateful to have the opportunity to contribute.”
He added: “Throughout the long history of the Jewish people, our ability to come together as one during the times of crisis – to unite and help each other – gave us strength to persevere and face the future with hope and confidence.
“That is why I cannot think of a better way to use the Genesis Prize money than to fund those who are fighting the coronavirus epidemic, both in Israel and around the world.”
Daniel Carmel-Brown, chief executive of Jewish Care, said: “This wonderful gift will help us continue supporting our staff who are looking after the most vulnerable and elderly members of our community during this crisis. Knowing that we have partners alongside us gives us strength and hope at this challenging time.”
Some grants will deliver immediate relief to those most affected by the pandemic, with recipient organisations including charities working with children with disabilities, mental health support services, and rape centres helping victims of domestic abuse.
Others will seed longer-term advances against the disease, including Israel’s Weizmann Institute’s research programme to develop a coronavirus vaccine, as well as two leading US universities – Columbia and New York University (NYU). Recipients of Sharansky’s donation also include Enosh, Israel’s largest mental health association which is backed by UJIA’s Si3 investment arm.
Columbia is developing new treatments while NYU is addressing engineering challenges presented by the coronavirus such as by creating “zero contact” hardware for doors and payment systems.
While nine of the 15 grants went to Israeli organisations, several will support projects in eight countries, including Italy, France, Russia, and Spain, such as by expanding volunteer activities to help isolated and elderly Jews affected by the pandemic.