Rabbi Arthur Schneier, a vice-president of the World Jewish Congress, was honored by Pope Francis for his work on behalf of religious freedom and international peace.
Schneier was knighted and made a member of the Papal Order of St.Sylvester at a ceremony in New York. Cardinal Timothy Dolan said the recognition was Pope Francis' "touching and tender way of confirming" Schneier's good works.
Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Vatican’s observer at the United Nations, praised Schneier’s efforts “to promote peace and mutual understanding, in the firm conviction that respect for fundamental human rights, including religious freedom, are indispensable values for all peoples of the world to enjoy peace, security and shared prosperity.”
During his career, the 84-year-old Holocaust survivor campaigned for greater religious freedom and tolerance. He also helped to build close ties between Jews and Catholics after World War II. The rabbi pointed out he’s the first Holocaust survivor to receive the Papal knighthood.
Schneier was born in Vienna in 1930 and lived in Hungary during World War II and arrived in the United States in 1947. He has been the senior rabbi of the 125-year-old synagogue since 1962 and founded the Appeal of Conscience Foundation in 1965.
The rabbi led 68 interfaith missions in China, Russia, Eastern Europe and Latin America.
Schneier has been the senior rabbi of Park East Synagogue, in Manhattan, since 1962.