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Former Moscow chief rabbi, European Jewry win Charlemagne Prize

“Jewish life is an essential part of Europe’s past, its present and its future,” said the board of directors that administers the award.

Then-Chief Rabbi of Moscow Pinchas Goldschmidt helps to write a new Torah scroll in the Western Wall tunnels in Jerusalem, May 21, 2014. Photo by Flash90.
Then-Chief Rabbi of Moscow Pinchas Goldschmidt helps to write a new Torah scroll in the Western Wall tunnels in Jerusalem, May 21, 2014. Photo by Flash90.

The western German city of Aachen, which has awarded an annual Charlemagne Prize for nearly 75 years, has recognized Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt and European Jewry with the 2024 prize, named for the medieval Frankish king.

“With this accolade, the Charlemagne Prize Board of Directors wishes to broadcast the message that Jewish life is a natural part of Europe, and that there is no place for antisemitism in Europe,” the International Charlemagne Prize of Aachen stated. “Jewish life is an essential part of Europe’s past, its present and its future.”

Goldschmidt is the president of the Conference of European Rabbis and former Moscow chief rabbi.

The award recognizes Goldschmidt’s “outstanding efforts to promote peace, the right of all peoples to self-determination, European values, tolerance, pluralism and understanding,” the prize board stated, “and in acknowledgement of his significant commitment to interreligious and intercultural dialogue.”

Frans Timmermans, former vice president of the European Commission, stated, “Any attack on a Jew is an attack on everything that Europe prides itself in. The way we treat Jews and other minorities is like a litmus test for the state of health of our open European society.”

Notable recent recipients of the prize include former U.S. president Bill Clinton (2000), Pope John Paul II (2004), former German chancellor Angela Merkel (2008), Pope Francis (2016) and French President Emmanuel Macron (2018). Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian people received the 2023 prize. 

António Guterres, secretary-general of the United Nations, won the prize in 2019.

Earlier prize recipients include Winston Churchill (1956), former Spanish king Juan Carlos of Spain (1982) and Henry Kissinger (1987).

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