The Conference of European Rabbis (CER) on Tuesday awarded its Lord Jakobovits Prize for European Jewry to French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, for his "exemplary determination in the fight against anti-Semitism."
The award was handed out to the French Prime Minister in a private ceremony in Paris.
The ceremony was attended by CER President Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, the Standing Committee and Members of the Board of Patrons. The presentation itself was made by Chairman of the Board of Patron Boris Mintz together with Vice Chair Mrs. Joelle Afalo.
The prize was designed by Georgy Frangulyan and depicts an open torah scroll lying on top of three closed torah scrolls, symbolizing the mission of the CER to recreate a presence of Judaism after one third of the Jewish people were wiped out in the holocaust.
During the ceremony, Chief Rabbi Goldschmidt said, “We made the decision to award Prime Minister Valls the Lord Jakobovits prize after the decisive action Prime Minister Valls took to protect the people the Jews of France from the mobs who were about to make a pogrom against our people and our synagogues.”
“There are some voices asking if there is a future for the Jewish people in Europe? I say the answer this question can only be answered by European governments themselves. And if that answer is to be a positive answer then they must follow the example of Prime Minister Valls,” he added.
Following a brutal anti-Semitic attack on a young couple in Paris in late 2014, Valls said that anti-Semitism is “not France” and added he was "surprised" there were not more demonstrations on the streets against anti-Semitism and racism.
Recently, Valls announced that the government would pour 100 million euros into a major anti-racism and anti-Semitism action plan. The plan was devised in the aftermath of the deadly Paris jihadist attacks.
The Lord Jakobovits prize, now in its third year, recognizes exceptional leadership and friendship to the Jewish communities of Europe. Last year the prize was awarded to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the previous award to former Polish Prime Minister and President of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek.
The award is presented in honor of the Chief Rabbi HaRav Lord Jakobovits (1921-1999), who was the first Rabbi to be ennobled in the House of Lords and the second president of the CER.
The CER has now moved to Toulouse for the next three days for its biennial Convention which brings together over 200 Rabbis from across Europe.