Michael Douglas, Natan Sharansky to visit U.S. campuses

(Infinity Kornfeld Studios)

(Infinity Kornfeld Studios)

(JTA) — American actor Michael Douglas and Jewish Agency head Natan Sharansky will visit three university campuses in the U.S. to talk about Israel and modern anti-Semitism.

Douglas and Sharansky will visit Brown University on January 28, Stanford University on February 2, and the University of California at Santa Barbara on February 3.

The program, “Jewish Journeys: A Conversation with Michael Douglas and Natan Sharansky,” is co-hosted by the Genesis Prize Foundation, Hillel International, and The Jewish Agency for Israel. The panelists will also address the topic of tolerance and inclusion in the Jewish community worldwide.

Douglas, a UN Messenger of Peace, is the 2015 Genesis Prize laureate and pledged to use his platform and $1 million prize money to work to foster a culture of acceptance for intermarried families in the Jewish community.

Sharansky is a former Soviet refusenik and political prisoner, and the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.

“This is the first time, in this current period of heightened anti-Israel activity on campus, that a Hollywood celebrity has offered to join with a world Jewish leader to visit US college campuses and speak with students about Israel and the Jewish people. At a time when the academic community and other forces are making sustained efforts to delegitimize Israel, these visits are particularly important and timely,” said Genesis Prize Foundation Co-Founder and Chairman Stan Polovets.

The Genesis Prize is endowed by the Genesis Philanthropy Group, which endeavors to build Jewish identity among Russian-speaking Jews worldwide.

“I was honored to receive the Genesis Prize last year, and it has encouraged me to deepen my commitment and belief that we must all be more inclusive in order that the Jewish faith and culture thrive,” Douglas said in a statement. “These visits provide an opportunity for Natan and me to speak directly with young people about the challenges they encounter, and share insight about how we have dealt with these situations throughout our life.”

“At a time when the new and old forms of anti-Semitism are coming together to undermine Israel’s legitimacy and drive Jews apart from their Jewish identities and from one another, it is crucial that we emphasize the connection between our devotion to human rights, our commitment to peace, and our dedication to strengthening the unity of the Jewish people,” said Sharansky.

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