A Real Winner

I like Michael Douglas. Being the romanticist that I am, I pine for a president who has the stature of the fictitious Andrew Shepard, the role Mr. Douglas played in the 1995 movie the American President. If Michael Douglas were to show up at Tiferet for service, I would consider it an honor if he would accept an invitation to be our Shabbat dinner guest.
It is beyond me however, why Michel Douglas was the recent recipient of the Million Dollar Genesis Prize. The Genesis Prize seeks to recognize individuals who have attained excellence and international renown in their chose professional field and whose actions in addition to their achievements, embody the character of the Jewish people through commitment to Jewish values, the Jewish community and/or to the State of Israel.
Other than remarks he made at his father’s “second Bar Mitzvah” celebration, as well sustaining a “hora related injury” at the Bar Mitzvah celebration of his son Dylan (Dylan is Jewish, because his paternal grandfather is Jewish. Figure that one out) I’m at a total loss when it comes to seeing any connection between Michael Douglas and Jewish values.
Perhaps Michael Douglas brunches on lox and bagels every Sunday morning. Given the seemingly vapid criteria for this award, lox and bagels on Sunday morning ought to qualify Mr. Douglas as an individual who truly cares about Judaism. After all, it seems to work for a great many of our people in this country who are Jewish by accident of birth. If nothing else, and in many cases there is nothing else, lox and bagel eaters can always invoke “you are what you eat”. What could be more Jewish than lox and bagels?
Michael Douglas speaks Hebrew! He actually said Shalom while being videoed in Israel together with his son Dylan (the above mentioned Bar Mitzvah boy). What more could the Genesis Prize committee members ask for? But that’s not all! Michael Douglas went on to praise the archaeologists in Israel and the fabulous work they were doing, thereby bringing tourists to Israel.
Most important of all, Michael Douglas could genuinely make the claim: Some of my best friends are Jews! Actually, most American actors could make that very same claim as well, given the preponderance of Jews in the film industry. I’m sure that by the time the family Bar Mitzvah celebrations rolled around (his father’s as well as his son’s) Michael Douglas was a seasoned veteran when it came to Hava Nagillah, “chair lifting” and pushing one’s way to the various hors oeuvres tables.
If those connected with the Genesis Prize feel the need to present the award to an actor who is a non-Jew, then I ask them to consider the following candidate:
– He donated a quarter of a million dollars in Israel Bonds to honor a much loved Jewish neighbor
– In 1945, in an effort to rouse Americans to save those who survived the Holocaust, but were stuck in Europe with no place to go, he starred in a 10 minute film about anti-Semitism.
– In 1947, he sang at an Action for Israel rally.
– He used his “connections” so that the dockworkers in New Jersey made sure “certain packages” addressed to Israel got through, despite the Middle East arms embargo, courtesy of the Truman administration.
– He contributed “substantially” when Golda Meir arrived in the United States on a Whistle Stop Tour to raise desperately needed money for the nascent Jewish State.
– He was instrumental in establishing an International Student Center at the Hebrew University as well as an Arab-Israel Youth Center in Nazareth.
Incidentally, December of this year marks the centenary of his birth.
Meaning no disrespect to Michael Douglas, awarding the Genesis Prize posthumously to Old Blue Eyes, Frank Sinatra would not only be the proper thing to do, but would add a great deal of prestige to the Genesis Prize.