The $1 million award honors individuals for their outstanding professional achievement and commitment to Jewish values and the Jewish people. This year, for the first time, the selection process took into account votes cast by two hundred thousand Jewish individuals around the world. The fact that Spielberg received the most votes was "a major determining factor" in the prize committee's final decision.
Selected for his achievements as one of the most influential filmmakers in the history of cinema, his social activism and prolific philanthropy, and his principled stance against anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance, Spielberg also was recognized for his efforts to preserve the memory of the Holocaust and prevent future genocides. In 1994, he established the USC Shoah Foundation, which is dedicated to preserving Holocaust survivor testimonies, and with his wife, Kate Capshaw, founded the Righteous Persons Foundation, which has awarded more than $100 million in grants to various Jewish organizations. He also founded the Wunderkinder Foundation in 1985 in support of arts, education, health, and youth initiatives.
"Spielberg is a great Jewish visionary and storyteller," said Natan Sharansky, who was awarded the Genesis Prize in 2020. "Key Jewish themes are often woven into his narratives: importance of identity and belonging, maintaining humanity in a ruthless world, caring for the other, and honoring the moral obligation to do the right thing. His talent makes them universal: told by Spielberg, these stories come alive in people's hearts across the globe."