Rabbi Michael Melchior, a former Israeli politician and longtime peace activist, is a recipient of the annual peace prize awarded by The Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East, an organization that works to promote interfaith relations in the region.
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The award was presented to him this week at a ceremony in the British House of Lords by the organization’s founder, Reverend Andrew White, the former vicar of St. George’s Church in Baghdad – the only Anglican church in Iraq. Known as the “Vicar of Baghdad,” White had previously served as a canon at Coventry Cathedral in England.
In a statement on the organization’s website, White noted that Melchior’s “achievements in the world of reconciliation are significant.” Despite the latest outbreak of violence between Israelis and Palestinians, White praised Melchior for his determination “to work with all sides in the hope that interfaith dialogue will help bring about lasting peace in the Holy Land.”
The other recipient of the award was Dr. Sarah Ahmed, a Muslim woman who is director of operations for the foundation.
Born to a Jewish family that traces its roots back 350 years in Denmark, Melchior served as chief rabbi of Norway before immigrating to Israel in 1986. He was one of the founding members of Meimad, a dovish Orthodox party that eventually merged with Labor. Among other political positions, Melchior has served as minister of diaspora and social affairs and deputy foreign minister.