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March 10, 2015 10:15 am

Jay Leno Returning to Israel to Host Genesis Prize Ceremony

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Comedian Jay Leno. Photo: Twitter. – Former Tonight Show host and comedian Jay Leno has said he will return to Israel in June to host the “Genesis Prize” award ceremony, after hosting the prize’s inaugural event last year.

The $1 million prize, which has been dubbed “the Jewish Nobel Prize,” is being awarded this year to actor Michael Douglas for his “passion” for Israel and his Jewish heritage.

“People [in Israel] seem to be genuinely happy to see you,” Leno told The Associated Press. “There, you kind of get swarmed. People run over, and the grandmas pinch your cheeks. So that was kind of fun.”

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Given calls by Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement activists for celebrities not to travel to or perform in the Jewish state, “Israelis are thrilled when you actually show up,” Leno said.

Douglas—the son of Jewish actor Kirk Douglas—has said he will donate his Genesis Prize money to projects promoting Jewish inclusiveness.

“Michael Douglas has chosen to invest the prize award into initiatives which will resonate with Jews like himself—those who come from parents of mixed heritage who wish to be part of the Jewish community,” said Stan Polovets, co-founder and chairman of the Genesis Prize Foundation.

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