I read yesterday that many of you are winners of a world renowned prize. No, not the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes. This week, the Genesis Prize Foundation announced the winner of the 2023 Genesis Prize. Last year, the winner was Alfred Bourla, the Jewish Pfizer CEO responsible for developing the Covid 19 vaccine. An earlier winner was a true hero who has inspired me my whole life, and who I have had the honor to meet several times, Natan Sharansky. But this year, the Foundation said, they “...witnessed human kindness, compassion, and activism on an unprecedented scale. Across the world, thousands of individuals and organizations were moved to action – making a moral choice to volunteer, donate money, shelter refugees, and engage in political advocacy.

Recognizing the extraordinary nature of events dominating the past 11 months, The Genesis Prize Selection Committee has decided to depart from the usual custom of awarding the Prize to a single Jewish individual. Instead, the Committee has elected to announce a collective award to Jewish activists and NGOs who were inspired by the brave citizens of Ukraine and their courageous president, Volodymyr Zelensky, and chose to act on their Jewish values by standing up for freedom, human dignity, and justice.”

Almost 400 of you participated in last spring’s Ukraine Emergency Campaign. We raised close to $100,000 primarily to support Ukraine’s Jewish community but also to help any refugee who sought assistance from close to two dozen Jewish relief agencies working in Ukraine, Poland Moldova and other European locations, as well as agencies working to help and absorb Ukrainian immigrants to Israel. The larger Jewish Federations of North America effort has raised almost $100 million to date, one of the largest amounts donated through any charity worldwide. The truth is, we don’t engage in our work to win prizes. We do it, our donors do it, to make a difference. To save a life. To act on the Jewish values we cherish. To be an example for our children. 

So, congratulations to you, our prize winners! And if you are reading this but have not yet had an opportunity to support our Ukraine Emergency and Relief work, you can do so using the link below.