The Genesis Prize Foundation and the Jewish Funders Network announced the 22 organizations that will receive grants as part of an initiative to promote the inclusion of people with disabilities in Jewish life.
The groups will receive $3.17 million in grants from Breaking Barriers, created to honor the 2016 Genesis Prize laureate Itzhak Perlman.
“Together with Itzhak Perlman, we aim to improve the lives of tens of thousands of people with disabilities throughout North America, Israel and the FSU,” Stan Polovets, co-founder and chairman of the Genesis Prize Foundation, said in a statement. “Itzhak’s personal story illustrates humankind’s ability to achieve greatness in the face of adversity. We want to give others an opportunity to achieve their own greatness by enjoying lives filled with dignity, respect, and personal fulfillment.”
Perlman, a world-renowned violinist and activist for those with disabilities, received the 2016 Genesis Prize at a ceremony in Jerusalem. In lieu of accepting the $1 million prize money, he directed the funds to promote inclusion of those with disabilities in Jewish life, as well as to support young people pursuing careers in classical music.
Last year’s matching grant initiative in honor of the 2015 laureate, actor-director Michael Douglas, provided $3.3 million to projects focused on engaging intermarried families in Jewish life.
In addition to the 22 organizations in the United States, a portion of Perlman’s Genesis Prize award was directed to a competition administered by Matan, an affiliate of the United Way, to distribute grants for organizations supporting those with disabilities in Israel. An additional grant was also provided to the Perlman-Genesis Strings Project, a five-year Tel Aviv Conservatory program for outstanding young string musicians.
In addition, the Genesis Prize Foundation made a significant gift, with a contribution from Roman Abramovich and his wife, Dasha Zhukova, in honor of Perlman to the Maccabi World Union in order to bring Russian Jewish Paralympic athletes to the 20th Maccabiah Games in Israel this July.