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Genesis Prize Recipient Anish Kapoor Pledges Support for Refugees

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Feb 06, 2017

Blog Post

Gabe Cahn, HIAS.org

Anish Kapoor, a renowned British-Indian sculptor of Jewish descent, was awarded the 2017 Genesis Prize on Sunday, February 5.

(Courtesy of Genesis Prize Foundation)

British artist Anish Kapoor was named the winner of the 2017 Genesis Prize on Sunday, February 5.

Established in 2012, the annual Genesis Prize recognizes individuals “who have attained excellence and international renown in their chosen professional fields, and who inspire others through their engagement and dedication to the Jewish community and the State of Israel.”

Kapoor, a renowned British-Indian sculptor of Jewish descent, said he will dedicate his $1 million award to expanding the Jewish community’s engagement on the global refugee crisis, as well as directly helping to alleviate conditions for the more than 12.5 million Syrians displaced by conflict.

Kapoor joins violinist Itzhak Perlman, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and actor-director Michael Douglas as recipients of the $1 million prize, which has been dubbed the “Jewish Nobel.”

In a statement issued to JTA, Kapoor explained, “outsider consciousness resides at the heart of Jewish identity and this is what motivates me, while accepting the honor of the Genesis Prize, to re-gift the proceeds to refugee causes.”

He added that the call of the Genesis Prize—to express a commitment to Jewish values—can “help save lives and give refugees an opportunity to return to normal life.”

Every Jewish community in the world was either founded by, or produced, refugees. Sometimes both,” HIAS CEO and President Mark Hetfield said.

“This history and Jewish values dictate that Jews take action to make sure that refugees find welcome, safety and freedom. We are so moved that Anish Kapoor has decided to work with the Genesis Prize Foundation to repair the world for refugees. HIAS looks forward to supporting both Kapoor and the Foundation in any way we can as we all work toward creating a better future for the unprecedented number of people in the world who are desperately seeking safety.” 

Genesis Prize Laureates also commit to yearlong engagement initiatives developed jointly with the Genesis Prize Foundation. During the last three years, nearly $10 million has been raised to support these philanthropic initiatives.

Stan Polovets, chairman and co-founder of the Genesis Prize Foundation, praised this year’s Genesis Laureate, saying: “We particularly admire how, in an age frequently characterized by cynicism and indifference, Anish continually advocates for the world’s disadvantaged – challenging all of us to do more to help wherever and whenever we can.”

According to the Genesis Prize website, “further details on Kapoor’s ‘re-gifting’ program will be announced by June 2017.”