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European Rabbis to Grant Merkel Top Honor

By: JTA

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will receive a top award from Europe’s mainstream Orthodox rabbinic body, the Conference of European Rabbis.

It announced Monday that Merkel will be awarded the 2013 Lord Jakobovits Prize for European Jewry for her dedication to the German Jewish community and “outspoken denunciation of anti-Semitism throughout Europe.”

The award will be presented in May at the Great Synagogue of Europe in Brussels; for security reasons the exact date has not been released.

Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis, or CER, and a chief rabbi of Moscow, called Merkel “a worthy recipient, in recognition of her continuing efforts of intercommunal harmony across Europe, her friendship towards the Jewish community and outstanding contributions to the promotion of tolerance and understanding.”

The CER thanked Merkel in particular for standing up for the rights of Jews and Muslims to practice ritual circumcision on boys. Last December, after months of debate following attempts to ban the practice, Germany’s Bundestag passed a law that permits such circumcisions, with minor restrictions that were acceptable to Jewish leaders. Merkel had forcefully stated her support for such a law and reassured both minority communities that she would stand up for them.

Last year’s winner of the award was former Polish Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek, who served as president of the European Parliament from 2009 to 2012.

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