U.K. Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis was officially honored as Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire during a “moving” ceremony at Windsor Castle on Tuesday, his office announced.
King Charles III bestowed Britain’s highest honor upon Rabbi Mirvis in the 2023 New Years Honours, which were publicly announced earlier this year, recognizing his “significant services to the Jewish community, to interfaith relations and to education.”
The 2023 honors list was the first approved by Charles following the death of Queen Elizabeth II in September.
The January announcement noted that Mirvis has been chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth since 2013 and “addresses global events with his vision of a ‘Judaism of Responsibility’ intervening, for example, on the plight of Uyghur Muslims, the only such intervention by a global faith leader.”
Mirvis said in a statement at the time that “I am enormously honored and deeply humbled by this award,” adding: “It will be particularly moving for me to receive this award from His Majesty the King in his first year as our monarch.”
In a similar ceremony at Windsor Castle, British-Jewish television presenter Rachel Riley received the title of Member of the Order of the British Empire, the third highest-ranking Order of the British Empire award.
A leading voice speaking out against anti-Jewish hatred in the United Kingdom, Riley found herself on the receiving end of abuse when she criticized the Labour Party under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.
Speaking to the Jewish Chronicle on Tuesday, Riley said there was a worrying trend of rising antisemitism, while knowledge of the Holocaust was in decline, and that Jewish communities were having to take security measures as a consequence.
“You go into a Jewish school, organization or charity, and often they’re unmarked, they always have tight security, and primary school children are taught how to hide in case there’s a terrorist attack. That’s not normal in Britain,” she said.
“The king is a big advocate for all faiths and inter-faith relations, it’s one of his passion projects. He was genuinely interested in what I’ve done to deserve it,” concluded Riley.