The King of Spain received the Lord Jakobovits Prize of European Jewry from Conference of European Rabbis (CER) President Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt at the El Pardo Palace in Madrid on Tuesday.
During the ceremony, Chief Rabbi Goldschmidt called on religious leaders to take responsibility for their communities amid growing extremism in Europe.
King Felipe VI received the award in recognition of his steadfast support for the Jewish community in Spain and the legislation - which he pushed for - to allow those Jews who can prove their Spanish heritage to secure Spanish citizenship.
The move was the climax of years of dialogue between the palace and the Jewish community.
In particular the CER recognised the “immense contribution that the King has made in his willingness to embrace the many religious faith present throughout the continent”.
King Felipe VI said: “Europe needs the invaluable contribution of its Jewish communities, because we need to be honest and respectful to both our common Judeo-Christian values and origins, and also with the more broader or universal sense of true human values we are trying to extend and defend worldwide amidst all the horrors and hatred that still persist in so many places on Earth.”
During his address, Chief Rabbi Goldschmidt said, “As religious leaders, we must take every opportunity to stress how it is our responsibility to combat extremism in any form. We set the tone for our communities and we can help leaders around the world to combat this evil.
However, in an era where anti-Semitism is on the rise throughout Europe, Spain has taken extraordinary measures to make its Jews feel welcome. Not only did the Minister of Justice acknowledge the expulsion of what he has called an ‘historic mistake’, he ensured that action was taken to rectify it.”