Orthodox rabbi Rabbi Raphael Benchimol of the Manhattan Sephardic Congregation was honored with the Knight of the Order of the Throne from Mohammed VI King of Morocco, in New York on Sunday.
The president of the Jewish Community of Morocco, Serge Berdugo, represented the king at the event, calling the ceremony a “tribute to a remarkable country.”
Rabbi Benchimol is known for his vigorous Torah studies and outreach programs. He also founded the Aleph Learning Center, which is dedicated to teaching Jewish studies, including Talmud, Kabalah and Hassidic philosophy to Jews of all ages and backgrounds.
In his speech Berdugo stated, “Moroccan Jews, even after leaving their country, retain attachment to and love for Morocco, as confirmed by the beautiful words of the late Yitzchak Rabin: ‘Moroccan Jews are the only Jews that never renounce their country, nor were they rejected by their country.’”
“It is a real pleasure and a delightful occasion to honor a man of conviction and action, of study and knowledge, a man at the service of his Community, a man of faithful support to Morocco and a friend,” Berdugo continued.
Rabbi Benchimol spoke about the role of education stating that children must be taught about their “illustrious and glorious past.”
The king recognizes “the merits of Moroccan Jews, wherever they settled, by honoring them with the highest medals of his kingdom,” he continued. “Although we left Morocco, Morocco never leaves us. It is deeply engraved in our hearts.”