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Charlemagne Prize 2024 to go to Europe's leading rabbi

January 19, 2024

In 2024, the Charlemagne Prize will be awarded to Pinchas Goldschmidt, President of the European Rabbinical Conference and Jewish communities in Europe. The prize honors work done in the service of European unification.

https://p.dw.com/p/4bS9M
Pinchas Goldschmidt, the Chairman of the European Rabbinical Conference
Pinchas Goldschmidt has always advocated that people of different religious and cultural backgrounds should find their place in Europe, the prize board saidImage: Henning Kaiser/dpa/picture alliance

The Aachen International Charlemagne Prize 2024 goes to the President of the European Rabbinical Conference Pinchas Goldschmidt and the Jewish communities in Europe, the board of directors of the prize announced on Friday.

According to the statement, the aim of the award is to broadcast the message that Jewish life is a natural part of Europe, and that there is no place for antisemitism in Europe.

"Jewish life is an essential part of Europe's past, its present and its future," the board said, adding that Goldschmidt has always advocated that people of different religious and cultural backgrounds should find their place in Europe, the board said.

The announcement comes amid a sharp rise in antisemitic crimes in many European countries since the outbreak of the war in Gaza, triggered by the terrorist attack on Israel by Hamas militants on 7 October and Israel's response.

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Who is Pinchas Goldschmidt?

Pinchas Goldschmidt was born in Zurich on July 21, 1963 to an Orthodox Jewish family. He left Switzerland at an early age for Israel, where he began his rabbinical studies in 1979 in Bnei Berak, and later in Chicago, Baltimore, and Jerusalem. He was formally ordained as a rabbi in 1987.

The European Rabbinical Conference is an association of some 400 Orthodox rabbis in Europe. Its headquarters are in Munich. Goldschmidt has headed the organization since 2011.

He had been chief rabbi of Moscow since 1993. He gave up his role there after resisting pressure to support the invasion of Ukraine.

Goldschmidt has been a promoter of interfaith dialogue, having co-founded the Muslim-Jewish Leadership Council (MJLC) in 2015.

The Charlemagne board also highlighted his role in Christian-Jewish dialogue, including his direct dialogue with Pope Francis.

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European prize

Since 1950, the international Charlemagne Prize has been given to personalities and institutions who have made a contribution to the unification of Europe.

The prize, which is awarded annually in Aachen, is considered one of the most important European honors.

It is named after Emperor Charlemagne (742-814), whom some call the "Father of Europe," as he united much of western mainland Europe for the first time since the classical era of the Roman Empire. At the end of the 8th century he chose Aachen as his capital.

Among the most prominent winners are Pope Francis and French President Emmanuel Macron.

In 2023, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian people were awarded the prize.

dh/ab (dpa, KNA)