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Dame Helen Mirren to present 'Jewish Nobel' in Jerusalem

Published 06/04/2016

Dame Helen Mirren will host the award ceremony of Israel's Genesis Prize, known as
Dame Helen Mirren will host the award ceremony of Israel's Genesis Prize, known as "the Jewish Nobel"

Oscar-winning actress Dame Helen Mirren has agreed to host the award ceremony of Israel's Genesis Prize in Jerusalem.

Organisers of the award, known as "the Jewish Nobel," announced the selection of Dame Helen on Wednesday.

The prize is being awarded to Israeli-American violinist Itzhak Perlman for his accomplishments as a musician, teacher and advocate for the disabled.

"Dame Mirren has been an outspoken supporter of Israel, and we look forward to the elegance and grace she will bring to the ceremony," said Stan Polovets, the co-founder and chairman of the Genesis Prize Foundation.

In a statement, Dame Helen said she was "honoured and humbled" to host the ceremony. "My connection to Israel and the Jewish people has truly been a part of making me what I am today, and I am very excited to be returning to this great country," she said.

Dame Helen is one of the few actors to have won the so-called Triple Crown of acting - collecting an Oscar, Tony and four Emmy awards over the years. She received her Academy Award for the 2006 film The Queen.

The foundation said that Dame Helen, who is not Jewish, has visited Israel several times, including a stint as a volunteer on a kibbutz, or collective farm, in 1967. She also has been a vocal critic of pro-Palestinian activists who have called for a cultural boycott of Israel.

She played the role of a former Mossad agent in The Debt, and in Woman In Gold she played an elderly Jewish refugee who fought the Austrian government for a decade to reclaim an iconic Gustav Klimt painting stolen from her family by the Nazis.

Perlman is the third recipient of the Genesis Prize, which is to be presented by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on June 23. Perlman intends to use his prize money for projects to assist individuals with disabilities and to develop young musicians of special talent, prize organisers said.

Actor Michael Douglas was last year's winner, and Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire businessman and former New York City mayor, won the inaugural prize. Former late-night talk show host Jay Leno hosted the first two award ceremonies.

The prize was inaugurated in 2014 and is run in a partnership between the Israeli prime minister's office, the private Genesis Prize Foundation and the chairman's office of the Jewish Agency, a non-profit group with close ties to the Israeli government.

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