Michael Douglas has been awarded the “Jewish Nobel Prize,” despite pointing out that he is not technically Jewish.
The US actor, married to Welsh actress Catherine Zeta-Jones, 45, with whom he has two children Dylan, 14, and Carys, 12, was in Israel earlier this week to accept the award.
Douglas, 70, who only recently returned to his Jewish roots, promised to use the $1 million Genesis Prize money to better relations between Israeli and Jewish communities worldwide.
The actor appeared emotional as he accepted the award, telling the audience: “Most of all I want to thank Catherine, Dylan and Carys. Seeing them here tonight means so much to me.
“They inspire me, they challenge me and they know that no husband or father could love them more,” he said.
Douglas, who received the award from Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and host of the evening Jay Leno, can only trace his Jewish ancestry down the paternal line.
His father, 98-year-old actor Kirk Douglas, was born Issur Danielovitch and although brought up in the Orthodox faith later turned away - only to return in his old age following two health scares. On the maternal side – from which the Jewish faith is traditionally traced – his mother actress Diane Dill, 92, is not Jewish.
The actor reportedly raised his concerns but the foundation still wanted to award him the award. “I don’t expect dramatic changes, certainly among the Orthodox and the ultra-Orthodox,” he admitted.
The actor has spoken out his faith before. Earlier this year he wrote in the Los Angeles Times of his teenage son’s first encounter with anti-Semitism. He urged local and world leaders to be vigilant against its re-emergence.
Additional reporting by Associated PressReuse content