Steven Spielberg is donating his Genesis Prize earnings to Jewish and non-Jewish groups working to promote racial and economic justice.
The prize’s foundation on Thursday announced that the film director would double the £730,000 ($1 million) prize with his own money and split it among 10 organisations, including Black Voters Matter and the Jews of Colour Initiative.
“Judaism and Jewish history begin with two narratives: Genesis and Exodus, stories about creation and liberation from oppression, about the discovery of the moral voice and of human dignity,” Spielberg said in a statement. “From these accounts come the ethical precepts commanding us to work for a more just and equitable world.”
Spielberg said “America is facing a crisis,” referring to the wake of the killing of George Floyd and the racial justice protests that roiled the country last year.
The others groups which will receive the money are Avodah, a Jewish group that takes on “our country’s most pressing social and economic issues”; the Collaborative for Jewish organising; Dayenu – A Jewish Call to Climate Action; Justice for Migrant Women; the National Domestic Workers Alliance; the Native American Rights Fund; One Fair Wage; and the Religious Action Centre of Reform Judaism, the movement’s activism wing. Many of these are pledged to pushing back efforts by state-level Republican legislators to roll back voting rights.
Black Voters Matter supports the Black Lives Matter moment but is not aligned with the organisation of the same name, which has taken in criticism from parts of the Jewish community for an Israel platform from 2016. It has since amended its policy platform.
The Genesis Prize statement notably included a comment from President Joe Biden, who Donald Trump sought to keep from assuming office after Biden won the presidency.
“Steven, I am inspired by the ways in which your Judaism has compelled you to confront the ugly forces of hate and intolerance with the healing power of truth and love,” Biden said.
The award, nicknamed “The Jewish Nobel,” honours “extraordinary individuals for their outstanding professional achievement, contribution to humanity, and commitment to Jewish values.” All past recipients, including Michael Douglas, Michael Bloomberg, Natalie Portman and Natan Sharansky, have donated their winnings to philanthropic causes.
Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.
Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.
For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.
Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.
You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.
100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...
Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.
There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.
In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.
Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish News also produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.
In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.
Voice of our community to wider society
The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.
We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.