World Jewish News
Natan Sharansky and Mikhail Fridman, founder of the Genesis Philanthropy Group
Genesis Prize Foundation names Natan Sharansky 2020 winner
The Genesis Prize Foundation on Tuesday announced Natan Sharansky as its 2020 Genesis Prize laureate.
A human rights activist and Jewish leader, Sharansky is being recognized for his lifelong struggle for human rights, political freedom and for his service to the Jewish people and the State of Israel, the foundation explained in a release.
Sharansky is the first Genesis Prize laureate who is currently residing in Israel.
“Having been raised as an assimilated Jew in the Soviet Union, I discovered my Jewish identity and belonging to the Jewish people, thanks to Israel,” Sharansky said. “This connection to Israel gave me and other refuseniks the strength to fight for the rights of Jews, as well as other people whose essential freedoms had been denied.
“Today, when antisemitism is on the rise, both from the political Left and from the Right, the unity of the Jewish people and our connection to Israel is very important,” he continued. “We need to unite and combat the scourge of antisemitism and efforts to delegitimize Israel together, as one people. I intend to speak about this as the Genesis Prize laureate.”
Sharansky was born in Donetsk, Ukraine. As a young man, he made a request to make aliyah to Israel and was subsequently arrested on charges of treason and espionage. He spent nine years in prison before being released in 1986. On the day of his release, Sharansky flew to Israel.
Since then, he established the Zionist Forum to assist Soviet immigrants with their absorption in the Jewish state; established the Yisrael B’Aliyah Party to further accelerate Russian aliyah and integration; and ultimately served in four Israeli governments, including leading several ministries, as well as being a deputy prime minister under Ariel Sharon.
By MAAYAN JAFFE-HOFFMAN