Leno to host Genesis ceremony
LOS ANGELES - Jay Leno, the legendary former Tonight Show host, will be the official emcee at a star-studded event where former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will be honored as the inaugural Genesis Prize laureate. Leno will host the May 22 ceremony at the Jerusalem Theater in Jerusalem, where more than 400 international dignitaries will be in attendance including Nobel laureates, world's leading philanthropists and global business leaders. Grammy award-winning pianist Evgeny Kissin, a new Israeli citizen as of late last year, will be the featured musical performer.
"Jay Leno is a comedic icon who has entertained millions of people around the world for over 20 years," said Stan Polovets, chairman of the board of the Genesis Prize Foundation. "What many don't know, however, is that he is also a great friend to Israel. We are delighted that he will join us and hundreds of global influencers in celebrating the achievements of the inaugural Genesis Prize laureate Michael Bloomberg."
Leno is the acclaimed former host of the Emmy winning The Tonight Show, where he dominated TV ratings for more than two decades. A multi-talented performer, he has also dedicated his time and talents to a number of philanthropic causes. Each year, he does numerous benefit performances, including shows for those whose lives were devastated by the 9/11 tragedy, the tsunami in Thailand, hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, and the severe economic downturn in Detroit.
"It is a great honor to be invited to host this prestigious event," said Leno. "I am very excited, this will be my first visit to Israel and I can't wait to be a part of the Genesis Prize ceremony."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will present Michael Bloomberg with the $1 million prize, which is endowed by Genesis Philanthropy Group and will be awarded annually in partnership with the Prime Minister's Office and the Jewish Agency for Israel. The Genesis Prize is a symbol of a movement to honor and enhance Jewish identity around the world and spark a far-reaching and inclusive conversation about Jewish values, culture and heritage, especially among young people.
Natan Sharansky, chairman of the executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel and chairman of the selection committee of the Genesis Prize, added, "The development and strengthening of Jewish identity in Israel and the Diaspora contributes to the welfare of humanity across the world. Only by modern-day Jews' better understanding their Jewish values and heritage can we fully realize our potential to build on the achievements of the past. The Genesis Prize is an important milestone in the work of the Jewish Agency, the State of Israel and Jewish philanthropists towards the union and the strengthening of the Jewish people."
The evening will include remarks from Bloomberg and Sharansky; highlight a piano performance by Evgeny Kissin and will feature Israel's beloved national singer Rita, the outstanding Tararam dance group, iconic actress and comedian Hanah Laszlo and the acclaimed Raanana Symphonette Orchestra.