'You're the fiddler of the world'

PM Netanyahu hosts 2016 Genesis Prize laureate violinist Itzhak Perlman, praises his work on behalf of special needs children.

Ido Ben Porat ,

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Itzhak Perlman
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Itzhak Perlman
Kobi Gideon/GPO

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his wife Sarah on Thursday hosted 2016 Genesis Prize laureate violinist Itzhak Perlman at the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem.

The Genesis Prize award ceremony was hosted this year by Oscar-winning actress Helen Mirren, who toured the city of Jerusalem on Wednesday.

The Prime Minister and his wife congratulated Perlman on winning the Genesis Prize and expressed their appreciation of his unique contribution to the Jewish people as an artist and teacher and for his work on behalf of special needs children.

In his remarks at the award ceremony, which took place at the Jerusalem Theater, Netanyahu said, “I asked Itzhak today in a wonderful lunch we had in our residence with Toby and Sara and their family, I asked him a question: Will a computer replace your music? And he thought for a while, and he said, ‘No, because it has no soul. It doesn't have these peculiarities of the human heart and that's what comes out.’ So computers can do a lot of things, but they can't replace the genius of the human heart. And I think this is what has made you one of the most accomplished musicians in the world. You embody excellence.”

“But it's not just proficiency. It's excellence of the spirit. It comes from inside you. You couldn't explain to me, because I asked you, what comes out from inside you, how does it come out from inside you? But you said it comes from inside me. But you nevertheless have tried to be a teacher and a role model to millions. You have been. You're an advocate for those whose bodies are disabled but whose spirits never are, and you are deeply committed to the Jewish people's heritage and you're passionate about our future,” continued the Prime Minister.

“Your music, Itzhak, exemplifies the profound human drive for creativity and beauty. It gives meaning to our lives. Last year, when you received the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom, you were called the 'fiddler of the world.' I think you should be called the fiddler of the roof of the world, but the point is clear,” he said.

“Your music has graced audiences on every continent for generations, and you're a source of inspiration for those with special needs. I think you're a source of inspiration for those without special needs, because it tells us what we can achieve if we choose to overcome our disabilities. We all have our disabilities and limitations. Some politicians don't, but other than that, everybody has limitations, disabilities, and you have overcame tremendous challenges after having been stricken by polio at the age of four. Now virtually all of your free time goes to teaching young musicians and advocating for those with physical disabilities.”

“Throughout this you've maintained this strong connection to Israel, the land of your birth. You return here annually to teach and to perform, and I think you inspire all of us. So, Itzhak, on behalf of the people of Israel, we applaud your accomplishments, your dedication, your passion. Your music and your passion will continue to resonate for generations to come. Mazal tov on this well-deserved accomplishment,” Netanyahu concluded.

Netanyahu announced the Genesis Prize in 2012; it is under the auspices of the Government of Israel, the Jewish Agency and the Genesis Philanthropy Group. The goal of the prize is to emphasize the contribution of Jews to world history and bring the younger generation of the Jewish world closer to the State of Israel and Jewish identity.