Natalie Portman's Jewish 'Nobel' Money Distributed to Women's Groups – Without Her

37 Israeli women’s organizations to split $1m Genesis Prize money originally earmarked for Israeli-American actor

Judy Maltz
Judy Maltz
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Actress Natalie Portman arrives at the 75th edition of the Venice Film Festival in Venice, Italy, Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018.
Actress Natalie Portman arrives at the 75th edition of the Venice Film Festival in Venice, Italy, Sept. 4, 2018. Credit: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP
Judy Maltz
Judy Maltz

The Genesis Prize on Tuesday named 37 winners of its annual $1 million award, all of them organizations active in promoting women’s causes in Israel.

Israeli-American actor Natalie Portman was supposed to have gifted the money, but that privilege was rescinded after she refused to share a stage with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the awards ceremony.

Portman had originally announced that she would donate the money to women’s organizations in Israel and abroad.

Representatives of the 37 organizations awarded a grant by the Genesis Prize.Credit: Natasha Kuperman

But after she notified the Genesis directors that she would not be attending the awards ceremony in Jerusalem due to Netanyahu's presence, they opted to choose the recipients themselves. The Genesis Prize is sometimes referred to as the "Jewish Nobel."

The grantees – announced at a ceremony held at the Rabin Center in Tel Aviv – include organizations that serve ultra-Orthodox, Arab and Bedouin women, as well as victims of sexual violence, domestic abuse and gender discrimination.

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Among the grantees are IGY, an organization that works with LGBTQ youth; Bat Kol, a support group of Orthodox lesbians; Mavoi Satum, an organization that assists women whose husbands refuse to divorce them; Isha L’Isha, a feminist center in Haifa that was the first of its kind in Israel; the Center for Women’s Justice, a nonprofit that assists women victimized by Israel’s religious authorities; Kav La’oved, an organization that helps migrant workers and asylum seekers; Bat Melech, a shelter for ultra-Orthodox women; and the Israel Women’s Network, the largest feminist organization in the country.

The Genesis Prize Foundation said 75 percent of the grantees are national organizations, while the rest focus on either the northern or southern regions of the country. In addition, it said that 30 percent of the organizations serve Jewish women, 30 percent serve Arab, Druze and Bedouin women, and 10 percent serve the LGBT community.

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The amount of prize money awarded to each organization will be determined by its size. The grantees were chosen in coordination with Matan, the Israeli equivalent of The United Way.

Israeli philanthropist Morris Kahn has pledged to provide another $1 million to women’s organizations outside of Israel. The grantees of this matching prize money have yet to be named.

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