New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was announced Monday as the winner of the first Genesis Prize, a $1 million award dubbed “the Jewish Nobel Prize.”
The inaugural award, bestowed upon “exceptional people whose values and achievements will inspire the next generations of Jews,” will be given to Bloomberg by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a Jerusalem ceremony in May.
Bloomberg beat out 200 other nominees, and the multi-billionaire will announce the philanthropy to which he will donate the prize money at the award ceremony.
The prize committee said that Bloomberg was given the honor for his “track record of outstanding public service and his role as one of the world’s greatest philanthropists.”
In a statement, Bloomberg, a business journalism mogul who has run the city since 2002, said he was honored to receive the award.
“Many years ago, my parents instilled in me Jewish values and ethics that I have carried with me throughout my life, and which have guided every aspect of my work in business, government, and philanthropy,” the statement said. “The Genesis Prize embraces and promotes those same values and ethics — a common thread among the Jewish people worldwide that has helped move humankind forward for centuries.”
Bloomberg is set to step down at the end of the year after his third term.
The Genesis Prize was created last year by the Genesis Philanthropy Group, the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office.
The prize is being funded with a $100 million endowment set up by the Genesis Philanthropy Group, which is composed of several oligarchs from the former Soviet Union who are committed to building the Russian-speaking Jewish Diaspora.
A pool of academics and community leaders around the world submitted anonymous nominations for the award in a selection process emulating that of the MacArthur Fellowship. Their recommendations were presented to a selection committee headed by Jewish Agency for Israel Chairman Natan Sharansky and a prize committee headed by Israeli Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein.
Committee members included Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, outgoing British Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks and Meir Shamgar, president emeritus of Israel’s Supreme Court.
Wiesel said Bloomberg set a high bar for the new award.
“It is a great honor for the entire Jewish people to celebrate his achievements, his commitment to improving the world, and in particular his city: New York,” Wiesel said. “We are certain that his selection as the recipient of the Genesis Prize will serve as an inspiration to young Jews and others across the globe.”