Nicholas Sarkozy has spoken passionately about the importance of French Jews feeling comfortable to practise their faith in public as he was honoured for protecting the country’s community at a dinner in central London tonight.
The Conference of European Rabbis presented the politician with an award in honour of his efforts to support French Jewry as interior minister and later president.
He said: “We do not want French Jews to leave France because they are afraid. We want them to be comfortable to wear a kippah. We must stand up to protect our Jewish communities. It is impossible not to. We did not fight the Nazis to force the Jews to run to Israel 70 years later.”
Sarkozy was the first recipient of the Rabbi Moshe Rosen prize, initiated in memory of the former Chief Rabbi of Romania who for many years safeguarded his community through great self-sacrifice during years of communist rule.
Dinner guests included CER president and associate president Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt and Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis.
Rabbi Goldschmidt said: “France is the main battleground between hope and fear for the future of Europe, especially for the Jewish community. President Sarkozy is at the forefront of that battle and his support is crucial for the future of our communities.”
The event also saw Rize – which integrates therapeutic concepts into exercises to track and improve mental well-being – announced as the winner of the Conference’s Internet Entrepreneur Prize.
They beat Jewish Interactive – which uses leading technology to make Jewish learning fun – and ALS Mobile Analyzer to the 26,000 euro prize. The runners-up received 18,000 euros.
Warning the internet can be used as a tool of “destruction and hate, spreading lies and terror”, Goldschmidt said: “Our prize shows what can be achieved with the internet and we are proud to award winners who have had such a positive impact on the world.”