NEW YORK (JTA) – Pope Francis will confer papal knighthood on Rabbi Arthur Schneier of Manhattan’s Park East Synagogue.
Schneier, the founder of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation and a Holocaust survivor, is being honored for his work promoting peace and mutual understanding, according to Vatican officials. Schneier will formally become a knight of Saint Sylvester at a ceremony on April 27 at the official residence of the Vatican’s representative to the United Nations, Archbishop Bernardito Auza. Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York is slated to be present.
Other members of the Order of Saint Sylvester include the late entertainer Bob Hope and Oskar Schnidler, the German industrialist credited with saving more than 1,000 Jews from the Nazis.
“Pope Francis is bestowing the honor on Rabbi Arthur Schneier, who has worked unceasingly 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,” Auza said in a statement. “A Holocaust survivor, Rabbi Schneier has always held this conviction in his heart and made it a principle of life.”
When the last pope, Benedict XVI, visited New York in April 2008, he visited Schneier’s synagogue, where the two exchanged gifts. Schneier was given a replica of a medieval Jewish manuscript from the Vatican library, and the pope received a seder plate, a Haggadah and a box of matzah.