Sometime next December, somewhere in the world, someone will receive an unexpected phone call with a reason to celebrate: actually, 100,000 reasons.
The caller will announce the identity of the recipient of the first Charles Bronfman Prize, a $100,000 award for an individual or team "whose accomplishments enrich Jewish life" that was established last week. The prize, named for New York philanthropist Charles Bronfman, was funded by his children, Stephen Bronfman and Ellen Bronfman Hauptman, and son-in-law, Andrew Hauptman, to mark Father’s Day and Bronfman’s 70th birthday.
The prize will be awarded annually to someone under 50.
"It will begin with a phone call," says Jeffrey Solomon, president of Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies, where the Bronfman Prize Foundation is based.
The Bronfman Prize, to be awarded next May, will be the largest-such monetary award under Jewish auspices outside of Israel.
"My father has inspired his family as well as the Jewish world always to seek new ways to serve Jewish communities and to interpret and redefine Jewish life in modern society," Stephen Bronfman says. "We are delighted to be able to follow his example with the creation of The Charles Bronfman Prize, which will bring public recognition to young, vigorous leaders of Jewish life."
Like the $1 million awards given by the MacArthur Foundation (the so-called genius grants) the recipients of the Bronfman Prizes will be determined by an anonymous group of international nominators.
The nominators, Solomon says, are looking for young people, probably not well known outside of their own community, who have made significant contributions to the wider Jewish world.
Charles Bronfman, a scion of the Bronfman family of businessmen and philanthropists from Montreal, is a supporter of many Jewish and Israeli causes, most notably the birthright israel program that brings young Jews to Israel for introductory visits.
This month brought another honor for Charles Bronfman ó he and his wife Andrea became the first North Americans to be named honorary citizens of Jerusalem.