Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky is promoting a program that will grant a Nobel-style prize, worth $1 million, to be granted once a year to a Jew from Israel
or the Diaspora for making a significant contribution to all of humanity.
The goal of the prize is to award Jewish contribution to the world in a number of fields, including art, science, medicine, and more.
Sharansky recruited the Genesis fund to fund the prize. The Genesis Fund is a philanthropic organization that aims to strengthen Jewish identity among Russian-speaking Jews throughout the world with a particular emphasis on those living in former Soviet republics, the US, and Israel.
Jewish oligarch Mikhail Friedman, considered one of the richest people in Russia, heads the organization. Friedman made his fortune, which is estimated to be more than $13 billion, from telecom, oil, and marketing.
The prize will be called the Genesis Prize, after his organization.
Sharansky asked President Shimon Peres
to endorse the prize. However, the legal advisor to the president's residence ruled that the president's residence will not be able to endorse the prize on a permanent basis, but that there is nothing preventing the president from granting the prize from year to year.
Sharansky also contacted Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin to ask him to head the prize's panel of judges. It was also agreed that the first prize would be granted in the Knesset.
The Jewish Agency chairman declined to comment on the matter. The president's residence, however, confirmed that they were contacted by Sharansky.