By his own count, Robert Kraft has made at least a hundred trips to Israel in his lifetime, dating back to his honeymoon with late wife Myra. Many of those trips have been philanthropic in nature, as Kraft has donated significant sums of his own money to worthy causes throughout Israel and particularly in the capital of Jerusalem.
In recent years, the Patriots owner has shared his passion for this historic nation with others in the NFL, bringing large contingents of pro football players, past and present, on pilgrimages to Israel's many diverse cities and holiest of religious sites. These trips have been dubbed "Touchdown in Israel," and Kraft is currently on his third such tour, this time with more than a dozen current and former Patriots players and their significant others.
Of all the journeys Kraft has made to Israel, this might be among the most memorable for him personally. In addition to sharing the voyage exclusively with players from his own team, the 78-year-old is being honored this week with the highly regarded Genesis Prize, which Time magazine has dubbed the Jewish Nobel Prize.
The annual award is described by its website as one given to those "who demonstrate outstanding excellence in their professional fields and have attained international renown not only for their professional success, but also by virtue of their positive contributions to humankind" and who serve "as a role model for Jews worldwide through a connection and commitment to their Jewish identity, Jewish values, the international Jewish community and/or the State of Israel." The stated mission of this global honor "is to foster Jewish identity, inspire Jewish pride and strengthen the bond between Israel and the Diaspora."
On Tuesday, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman welcomed Kraft back to Israel with a lavish fete at Friedman's residence, in advance of the Thursday ceremony at which Kraft will receive this year's Genesis Prize. According to a recent Jerusalem Post article, Kraft has already indicated that he will distribute the $1 million in prize funding to various organizations and initiatives whose purpose is to combat antisemitism around the globe.
Below are several photos of this latest trip. Look for more in the days ahead here on patriots.com.
Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft is joined by Patriots past and present as they tour Holy sites along the Sea of Galilee during Touchdown in Israel III.