France's former President Nicolas Sarkozy, the current leader of the country's opposition Republican party, addresed a ceremony in London of the Conference of European Rabbis.
Sarkozy said French Jews should feel comfortable to practize their faith in public. Sarkozy was honored by Europe's leading rabbinical organization for protecting the French community during his stints as interior minister, prime minister and president of France.
Sarkozy told the gala dinner: “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 didn't 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, which is bestowed by CER in memory of the former Romanian chief rabbi who for many years safeguarded his community through great self-sacrifice during years of communist rule.
Dinner guests included CER President Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, the chief rabbi of Moscow, and Associate President Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, the UK chief 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.”
Photo: CER President Pinchas Goldschmidt with Sarkozy