European Jews to Honor Former EU Parliament Head
Former Polish European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek will be awarded the first “Lord Jakobovits Prize of European Jewry" by the Conference of European Rabbis (CER), the European Jewish Press (EJP) reported on Monday.
Buzek will be given the award in a ceremony to be held at Brussels’ main synagogue.
The award ceremony on Tuesday will be addressed by the current president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, in the presence of a number of European and Belgian political leaders, diplomats, as well as chief rabbis and other representatives of European Jewish communities, the CER said in a statement quoted by EJP.
“For many years, Jerzy Buzek has been a great friend of the Jewish people. Both as Polish Prime Minister and European Parliament president, he built bridges, vigorously fought anti-Semitism, helped to keep up the memory of the Shoah [Holocaust –ed.] and was a supporter of the State of Israel,” Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, CER President, said in the statement.
He added, “Coming just one week before Pesach, the ultimate Jewish festival of liberation and freedom, when we transfer the message to our children of the continued victory of the forces of light over those of darkness, it is particularly poignant that we gather here to reassert our commitment to those values.”
EJP reported that the ceremony at Brussels’ main synagogue will also include a special prayer for the victims of the Toulouse shootings last week. Toulouse’s chief rabbi, Rav Avraham Weill, will be present, the report noted.
During the ceremony, c hildren from local Jewish schools will read out a psalm in memory of the victims at the Otzar Hatorah high school in Toulouse and classes from the European School in Brussels will also be present.
The “Prize of European Jewry” is named after the CER’s second president, former British Commonwealth Chief Rabbi Immanuel Jakobovits, a refugee from Nazi Germany who arrived in the UK just before the outbreak of World War II.
Lord Jakobovits embodied the spirit of "Torah Im Derech Eretz," a philosophy linking full participation of Jews in European culture and society with adherence to Jewish tradition.