Rachel Riley and Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis receive honours at Windsor Castle

The Chief Rabbi said he was 'deeply humbled' by the award


Rachel Riley and Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis have both received Britain’s highest honours in a special ceremony at Windsor Castle.

Rabbi Mirvis was given a knighthood by King Charles in the 2023 New Years Honours list for his “significant services to the Jewish community, to interfaith relations and to education”. 

Rachel Riley received an MBE at Windsor Castle on Wednesday for her work in raising awareness of the Holocaust and combating antisemitism.

The Countdown presenter, 37, was honoured for her services to Holocaust education as an avid campaigner in the New Year Honours list.

As part of his work in interfaith relations since being appointed, Chief Rabbi Mirvis has organised ground-breaking Jewish and Muslim interfaith workshops and has travelled to Greece and India and, most recently, went on a historic visit to the UAE.

He also spoke at a London mosque to call for unity following the terrorist attack on a Muslim place of worship in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2019. 

In addition, Chief Rabbi Mirvis has spoken up for China’s persecuted Uyghur Muslim population.

Speaking at the time of receiving the news of his knighthood in January, he said: “I am enormously honoured and deeply humbled by this award.

“It will be particularly moving for me to receive this award from His Majesty The King, in his first year as our monarch.”

Maurice Ostro OBE KFO, Vice President of The Council of Christians and Jews, said about the Chief Rabbi: “This honour is not awarded to faith leaders simply because of their positions, and it is a testament to how he has gone above and beyond his role as Chief Rabbi and his recognition as a leader by both faith and non-faith communities.

“The knighting of the Chief Rabbi will not only be celebrated in the Jewish and Muslim communities across the UK but by communities of all faith and none. It also underlines how the establishment has started to recognise the importance of interfaith engagement as well as the vital contributions of our faith communities and the important role they play in making our country a truly great Britain.”

Riley was a vocal critic of Labour's handling of antisemitism within the party and condemned Jeremy Corbyn's conduct while leader.

In 2019, she explained the abuse she received on social media as a public figure during a speech for the Holocaust Educational Trust in Westminster, with her mother being Jewish.

Speaking after the ceremony, Riley said there was a trend of antisemitism being on the rise, while knowledge of the Holocaust was in decline, and that Jewish communities were having to take precautions as a consequence.

She said: "You go into a Jewish school, organisation or charity and often they're unmarked, they always have tight security and primary school children are taught how to hide in case there's a terrorist attack. That's not normal in Britain."

Ms Riley said she would continue her work as an ambassador for the Centre for Countering Digital Hate, as she felt much antisemitism was spread online and that "legislation hasn't kept up with the speed that social media has grown".

The TV personality said it was nice to finally meet the King, after she missed out on a reception for British Jews that he attended while she was heavily pregnant.

"The King is a big advocate for all faiths and inter-faith relations, it's one of his passion projects. He was genuinely interested in what I've done to deserve it," she added.

Riley wrote on Twitter after the honours announcement earlier this year: "Incredibly proud to have just been awarded an MBE for services to Holocaust education.

"Grateful to everyone who has sent well wishes and support over the years.

"This is very much shared with so many people who also dedicate their time and energy to fighting anti-Jewish racism."

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