A prize worth £600,000 has been established to honour Jews who excel in the arts and sciences and strengthen the identity of the younger generation of Jews.
The Genesis Prize, dubbed the "Jewish Nobel Prize" by organisers, will be funded by the Russian businessman Mikhail Fridman's Genesis Philanthropy Group.
The judging committee will be chaired by former Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky, while the prize will be given by the Israeli Prime Minister.
Mr Fridman's aim is to find a way to boost the affiliation of young diaspora Jews to Israel and to their religious identity.
"Far-reaching achievements in science, the arts, business, medicine, diplomacy and other fields of human endeavo u r have been realised thanks to the Jewish people's natural aspiration to improve the world and to its desire to pass its moral values on to coming generations," said Mr Fridman. "This tradition of the Jewish people must continue."
In a statement to mark the launch of the prize, Mr Netanyahu said: "This is an important step for the cohesion of our people and symboli s es its unity around Jewish values."
Mr Sharansky, now chairman of the Jewish Agency, added: "Only by being completely aware of their link to the values of the Jewish heritage can modern Jews fully reali s e their creative potential."