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Spielberg, Itzhak Perlman to get presidential medal of freedom

Barbra Streisand, Stephen Sondheim also among 17 recipients of highest civilian honor

US film director Steven Spielberg arrives for a meeting with Holocaust survivors in Krakow, Poland last January. (photo credit: AP/Czarek Sokolowski)
US film director Steven Spielberg arrives for a meeting with Holocaust survivors in Krakow, Poland last January. (photo credit: AP/Czarek Sokolowski)

Director Steven Spielberg, Israeli violinist Itzhak Perlman, singer Barbra Streisand, and playwright Stephen Sondheim were among the 17 recipients of the 2015 Presidential Medal of Freedom announced on Monday.

The honorees will receive the highest civilian honor from President Barack Obama at the White House in a November 24 ceremony.

Rounding out the list of winners are: Gloria Estefan, James Taylor, Bonnie Carroll, Emilio Estefan, Lee Hamilton, Katherine G. Johnson, Willie Mays, Barbara Mikulski, and William Ruckelshaus.

Yogi Berra, Shirley Chisholm, Billy Frank Jr. and Minoru Yasui will be honored posthumously.

Israeli-born violinist Itzhak Perlman, left, will perform with Manhattan Cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfgot at Brooklyn's Barclays Center on Feb. 28. (Lisa-Marie Mazzucco via JTA)
Israeli-born violinist Itzhak Perlman, left, will perform with Manhattan Cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfgot at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on Feb. 28. (Lisa-Marie Mazzucco via JTA)

“I look forward to presenting these 17 distinguished Americans with our nation’s highest civilian honor,” Obama said in a statement. “From public servants who helped us meet defining challenges of our time to artists who expanded our imaginations, from leaders who have made our union more perfect to athletes who have inspired millions of fans, these men and women have enriched our lives and helped define our shared experience as Americans.”

Past recipients of the award, granted to individuals who “have made especially meritorious contributions,” include Israeli president Shimon Peres in 2012.

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