Actress Natalie Portman Named Winner of $1 Million ‘Jewish Nobel’

Israeli born actress, Natalie Portman stars as Rivka, a Hassidic Bride in "New York I Love You" RIGHT E. Dvir. (Courtesy: E. Dvir)
Natalie Portman, a Oscar winning actress, director and social activist, was named the winner of the 2018 Genesis Prize.

Portman’s award of the so-called “Jewish Nobel” was announced on Tuesday by the Genesis Prize Foundation.

She joins artist Anish Kapoor, violinist Itzhak Perlman, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and actor-director Michael Douglas as recipients of the $1 million prize, which honors individuals who serve as an inspiration to the next generation of Jews through their outstanding professional achievement, commitment to Jewish values and to the Jewish people.

Natalie Portman stars as Rivka, a Hassidic Bride in “New York I Love You” (Credit: E. Dvir)

Portman’s prize money will go to programs that focus on advancing women’s equality. The funds will be used for grants to organizations involved in promoting women’s educational opportunities, economic advancement, health and safety, and full participation in policy formulation and political activity. A significant portion of the funds will go to programs advancing women’s equality in Israel, the foundation said in a statement.

Portman was born in Israel and, after moving to the United States as a child, retained a close connection to her Jewish and Israeli roots. She is a noted social activist in such areas as gender equality, combatting poverty, microfinance, and animal rights.

Natalie Portman stars as Rivka, a Hassidic Bride in “New York I Love You” (Credit: Just Jared)

She began her acting career at the age of 12 and began directing in recent years. She is a winner of multiple prestigious awards, including an Academy Award, two Golden Globe Awards, the British Academy of Film and Television Award, and other industry honors. In 2015, she directed “A Tale of Love and Darkness,” a Hebrew-language film made in Israel and based on the novel by Israeli writer Amos Oz, in which she also played a starring role.

“Natalie’s charismatic on-screen presence has touched the hearts of millions. Her talent, her commitment to social causes and her deep connection to her Jewish and Israeli roots are greatly admired. She exemplifies the core traits of the Jewish character and values of the Jewish people – persistence and hard work, pursuit of excellence, intellectual curiosity, and a heartfelt desire to contribute to making the world a better place. Without a doubt, she is a role model for millions of young Jews around the world,” Stan Polovets, co-founder and chairman of the Genesis Prize Foundation, said in a statement.

Portman, who in the statement said she is “proud of my Israeli roots and Jewish heritage,” will be honored at the Genesis Prize Ceremony in Jerusalem in June.