US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg received the inaugural Wednesday at a ceremony held at the Rabin Center in Tel-Aviv.
Ginsburg received the award for her legendary advocacy on behalf of gender equality and the advancement of women.
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The event was part of Genesis’s year-long philanthropic initiative focused on gender equality and equal opportunities for women, which includes two grant competitions in Israel and North America. Genesis will invest up to $3 million in new investments in organizations working for women’s causes by winter 2018.
The Lifetime Achievement Award does not involve a monetary reward.
“I am a judge, born, raised and proud of being a Jew,” said Ginsburg. “The demand for justice, for peace and for enlightenment runs through the entirety of Jewish history and Jewish tradition. I hope in all the years I have the good fortune to continue serving on the bench of the Supreme Court of the United States, I will have the strength and courage to remain steadfast in the service of that demand.”
The event was co-hosted by Genesis chairman Stan Polovets, Israeli philanthropist and Genesis partner Morris Kahn and former deputy defense minister Dalia Rabin. Former Supreme Court president Aharon Barak bestowed the award on Ginsburg.
“Without a doubt, she is one of the great legal minds of our time; an outstanding Jewish jurist whose fearless pursuit of human rights, equality and justice for all stems from her Jewish values,” Barak said.
Also, in attendance were current Supreme Court president Esther Hayut, and several retired presidents of the court, including Dorit Beinisch, the first woman to hold the post.
Beinisch said the impact of Ginsburg’s contributions on civil rights – and women’s rights in particular – is “difficult to underestimate.”
“In my mind she is a quintessential Jewish woman whose vigor, intelligence and virtue represent the very heart of the Jewish and human spirit,” Beinisch said.
In 1971, Ginsburg co-founded the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union. She was appointed a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 1980. President Bill Clinton nominated her as an associate justice of the Supreme Court, and she took her seat August 10, 1993.
“This award is a testament to your remarkable contributions to building a fairer and more just society, and to your lifelong effort to widen the circle of opportunity,” wrote Clinton to Ginsburg in a letter read at the ceremony. “Your groundbreaking legal work has pioneered civil liberties and women’s rights in the United States. I will always be proud to have appointed you to the Supreme Court.”
Ginsburg was selected for this inaugural award in November 2017 by five Genesis Prize laureates: former New York mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (2014); actor and peace activist Michael Douglas (2015); virtuoso violinist and advocate for people with disabilities Itzhak Perlman (2016); prominent sculptor and activist for the rights of refugees Sir Anish Kapoor (2017); and actress and director Natalie Portman (2018).
“Throughout history, Jewish women have been at the forefront of humanity’s fight for gender equality,” said Polovets. “In honoring Justice Ginsburg as an outstanding daughter of the Jewish people, we also pay tribute to the many Jewish women who have made contributions to gender equality in all aspects of human endeavor.”