Close your eyes, breathe in deeply, now exhale slowly… That was easy, wasn’t it? Not for everyone…
JERUSALEM – Michael Bloomberg received the $1 million Genesis Prize for embodying Jewish values.
The billionaire and former New York City mayor said they could just as well have been Christian, Muslim or Hindu values.
In Jerusalem last week for the first awarding of what some have called the Jewish Nobel, Bloomberg made a day of it. He appeared with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat to discuss urban innovation, spoke to the media and received the Genesis Prize from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a grandiose ceremony hosted by Jay Leno.
The prize honors a laureate “whose actions, in addition to their achievements, embody the character of the Jewish people through commitment to Jewish values, the Jewish community and/or to the state of Israel.”
Bloomberg praised Israel and remarked fondly on his Jewish upbringing that set him on the path to success, first as the founder of a major financial software and media company, then as a three-term mayor of America’s largest city. But he noted repeatedly that the values he absorbed as a child could have come from any culture or religion.
“No one religion has a lock on great people or terrible people,” Bloomberg said at a news conference preceding the award ceremony. “The values I learned from my parents are probably the same values I hope Christians and Muslims and Hindus and Buddhists teach to their people.”
The Genesis Prize is a joint project of Israel’s Prime Minister’s Office, the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Genesis Philanthropy Group, a coalition of Russian Jewish philanthropists who funded the prize. The group also funds organizations and programs that engage Russian-speaking Jews in Israel, the United States and the former Soviet Union.
In selecting Bloomberg, the Genesis group chose a fellow billionaire who is perhaps better known for defending Muslim rights than Jewish ones. As New York City mayor, Bloomberg was a strident defender of plans to build an Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan, a controversy he brought up at the news conference.
“There was a brouhaha in New York when they wanted to build a mosque near the World Trade Center,” he said. “If I’m going to be able to build my shul, they need to be able to build their mosque.”
Bloomberg had said last year that he would use the $1 million to promote Israeli-Palestinian business cooperation. But at the news conference, he said the Genesis group had dissuaded him from that course, urging him instead to fund the Genesis Generations Prize, which will provide 10 grants of $100,000 each to candidates with the best “big ideas” guided by Jewish values that benefit the world. Non-Jews will be eligible for the grants.
Bloomberg is a frequent visitor to Israel who once came to show solidarity with the country’s embattled towns during the Gaza war in 2009. Last week he paid tribute to the country, asking, “If the dream of Israel can be realized, what dream can’t be?”
But he also made sure to emphasize his universalist bent.
“We are as one with this city and this country as we can be, to build a brighter future for everyone,” he said. “With enough hard work and faith in our convictions, we can build a better world for our children and their children.”
About the Author:
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
The attacks happened just south of Karmei Tzur.
Israelis enjoy kayaking in the Jordan river in Northern Israel on August 2, 2015, as temperature reached 47 degrees Celcius in some parts of Israel.
New York Democratic Congresswoman Kathleen Rice will vote against the Iran deal.
Some Israelis seem to have forgotten no one has yet tracked down the murderers of Ali Bawabsheh.
Americans oppose the Iran deal, and only a slight majority of Democrats support it.
Chuck Schumer’s office has received more than 10,000 phone calls over the past two weeks, all of them from groups and individuals opposed to the Iran nuclear deal.
Kerry reassures the Gulf States, who are gouging him for more arms and to force Israel out of Judea and Samaria.
Its so hot, the Arab threat to drive us into the sea don’t sound half bad…
No one was injured from the mortar fire that apparently strayed during clashes.
The gang attacked a Haredi man and then a religious couple with brass knuckles and a knife. The woman recited the Shema prayer.
The Muslims preacher is a permanent fixture on the Temple Mount to incite Muslims but finally has been arrested.
The “friendly” game was cancelled after the fans took over the soccer field.
Late PM Yitzhak Rabin’s granddaughter has announced her launch into politics.
Israeli soldiers deployed at the Gaza security fence shot over the heads of Arabs who had approached the no-go zone Monday, Palestinian Authority media reported. No one was injured. Arabs frequently approached the security fence, usually with intentions to infiltrate into Israel or to carry out a terrorist attack on the spot. Palestinian Authority media […]
“You want to know what this wine looked like, which wine King David drank, white or red…. We can see if it’s red or white, strong or weak.”
Shlomy Zachary, an Israeli human rights lawyer, noted that Israeli cooperation with previous UN investigations has helped mitigate criticism of Israel – for example, in a 2010 UN investigation of the so-called flotilla incident.
Smart bombs: Israeli war technology isn’t limited to the home front.
“The values I learned from my parents are probably the same values I hope Christians and Muslims and Hindus and Buddhists teach to their people.”
On Monday, Lapid told JTA that he would sooner agree to freeze settlement growth than free Palestinian prisoners, as Netanyahu has done previously in an effort to advance the process.
“He was like everyone else,” she said. “He was serious. He wouldn’t mess around. He would do what I said. He was quiet a lot and thought a lot. He did everything well.”
More than having a hand on the wheel, the year since the formation of the new government has seen Jewish Home and the coalition’s other smaller parties driving much of the government’s agenda. Netanyahu’s Likud party has taken a back seat on everything besides security affairs.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/accepting-jewish-values-prize-in-israel-bloomberg-strikes-universalist-tone/2014/05/28/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: