Oscar winner Helen Mirren to host 2016 Genesis Prize ceremony in Jerusalem


(JTA) — Academy Award-winning actress Helen Mirren will host the 2016 Genesis Prize award ceremony in Jerusalem.

At the June 23 ceremony, Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu will present the $1 million Genesis Prize to Itzhak Perlman, an acclaimed violinist, educator and advocate for individuals with disabilities.

The Genesis Prize, which has been referred to as the “Jewish Nobel,” is given to individuals who have achieved professional success, made a significant contribution to humanity and inspired others through their engagement and dedication to the Jewish community and the State of Israel.

Previous recipients are former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the actor-director Michael Douglas.

“We are honored that Dame Helen Mirren, an actress of such talent and accomplishment, will host the 2016 Genesis Prize ceremony and help us celebrate the extraordinary life and achievements of Itzhak Perlman,” said co-founder and chairman of the Genesis Prize Foundation, Stan Polovets. “Dame Mirren has been an outspoken supporter of Israel, and we look forward to the elegance and grace she will bring to the ceremony.”

The Genesis Prize is endowed by the Genesis Philanthropy Group, which endeavors to build Jewish identity among Russian-speaking Jews worldwide.

Mirren’s career has spanned nearly 50 years since her first performance in 1967 with the Royal Shakespeare Company. She won an Oscar for best actress in 2007 for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II in “The Queen” and a Tony Award in 2015 for best actress in a play for her portrayal of Elizabeth II in “The Audience.” She has also earned four Emmy Awards.

Mirren has visited Israel on several occasions, the first time in 1967 when she worked on a kibbutz, and has spoken out often in support of the Jewish state.

“Through my first visit to Israel in 1967, I came to love and admire the country and its people, and I continue to be inspired by the creative spark Israelis bring to all forms of art, including film and music,” the actress said in a statement. “My connection to Israel and the Jewish people has truly been a part of making me what I am today, and I am very excited to be returning to this great country.”

Mirren starred in the 2015 film “Woman in Gold,” which tells the story of Maria Altmann, an Austrian-American woman who made headlines in 2006 for winning her legal battle against the Austrian government to reclaim five Gustav Klimt paintings, among them “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I,” nicknamed “Woman in Gold.” Following its restitution to Altmann in 2006, the painting was acquired by Ronald Lauder and is now on display at the Neue Galerie in Manhattan.

Recommended from JTA