Ethicist Peter Singer awarded Australia’s highest honor


SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) — Peter Singer, a U.S.-based philosopher and ethicist, was awarded Australia’s highest honor.

The Melbourne-born Singer, a professor of bioethics at Princeton University, on Monday was named a Companion of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s birthday awards for leading public debate on global poverty, animal rights and the human condition.

Singer, a vegetarian and a utilitarian, has been controversial for the Jewish establishment, signing a petition in 2010 renouncing his “right of return” under Israeli law and criticizing shechitah, or ritual slaughter, last year as “not the most humane way of killing an animal.”

He was joined on the honors list by Rosalind Fischl, who became the first female president of Sydney’s Great Synagogue in 2005 and is the inaugural president of the Council of Orthodox Synagogues in New South Wales, receiving the Medal of the Order of Australia; and Alice Spigelman, whose citation highlighted her work as a human rights advocate, particularly for women and refugees, named a Member of the Order of Australia.

More than a dozen Jews were listed among the 540 recipients of Orders of Australia, including Michael Zylberman, a champion of the revival of Yiddish in Melbourne, and David Cohen, who co-founded two Jewish schools in Sydney.

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