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Aachen: Charlemagne Prize for Chief Rabbi Goldschmidt

Aachen: Charlemagne Prize for Chief Rabbi Goldschmidt

Many statesmen have already received the Charlemagne Prize. The President of the European Rabbinical Conference was honored on Thursday. He was surprised by the fact that he is the son of a family from North Rhine-Westphalia.

The President of the European Rabbinical Conference, Pinchas Goldschmidt, received the International Charlemagne Prize 2024 in Aachen. This sends a signal “that Jewish life naturally belongs to Europe and that there should be no place for anti-Semitism in Europe,” explained the Charlemagne Prize Directorate.

The 60-year-old chief rabbi was honored for his advocacy of European values, understanding and interreligious dialogue. Together with Goldschmidt, the Jewish communities in Europe were honored. The Charlemagne Prize consists of a certificate and a medal and is awarded for services to understanding in Europe.

Signs against anti-Semitism

Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) said in his speech that by awarding the prize, the Charlemagne Prize jury was sending a signal against anti-Semitism, which has been more pronounced in recent years than it has been for a long time. He praised the interreligious dialogue that Goldschmidt helped promote, including between Muslims and Jews – Goldschmidt is co-founder of the European Muslim-Jewish Leadership Council. Another speaker was the Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama.

In his speech, the Orthodox Rabbi Goldschmidt pointed out the increase in anti-Semitic crimes. He said a lot is being done to combat anti-Semitism and provide security for Jewish people. But what is being done is not enough. “Jewish people didn’t dare to be recognizable as Jewish,” he said forcefully. They changed their names at parcel and delivery services out of fear of violence.

The protective equipment of many communities needs an update from government support across Europe. Efforts to investigate and convict perpetrators of anti-Jewish crimes should be intensified, he said. There are strong analyzes and tools in Europe to combat anti-Semitism. “I ask you to implement them, consistently, nationally, internationally,” he said emphatically.

Decades in Moscow

The 60-year-old Jewish cleric has been president of the Conference of European Rabbis since 2011, in which more than 700 rabbis are represented. The Zurich-born rabbi lived in Moscow for more than 30 years. After refusing to support Russia’s attack on Ukraine, he left the country with his family in 2022.

Goldschmidt said he would like to see more solidarity with the Jewish state. He also has problems with the current Israeli government, with the “right-wing extremist ministers”. Referring to the Gaza war, he said Hamas started the war and could end it immediately by releasing the hostages and laying down its arms.

On the occasion of the award ceremony, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) said on Platform Your work must be self-evident. “The fact that the Aachen Charlemagne Prize goes to her and Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt is an important sign of tolerance and against anti-Semitism,” explained the Chancellor.

Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier also congratulated. He emphasized the consistency with which Goldschmidt resigned from his position as chief rabbi of Moscow after the start of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine and turned his back on Russia. “You never hesitated to clearly point out differences and stand up for your position,” explained Steinmeier. He is grateful that the European Rabbinical Conference has had its headquarters in Munich since last year.

Roots in North Rhine-Westphalia

Goldschmidt, accompanied by his family, surprised the audience in Aachen with the remark that he was the scion of a North Rhine-Westphalian family that lived 250 years ago in what is now a district of Olsberg in the Sauerland. He could visit the graves of his ancestors there.

Many statesmen and personalities have been honored with the Charlemagne Prize since 1950, including Emmanuel Macron, Helmut Kohl, Tony Blair, Bill Clinton and Pope Francis. In 2023, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky received the prize.

There were several demonstrations on the sidelines of the award ceremony. A banner with anti-Semitic content was shown at a rally. Overall, the events were peaceful, the police said.

Source: Stern

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