President of the European Jewish Council Moshe Kantor..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Dr. Moshe Kantor, 63, is probably the most influential Jewish leader in Europe today, and has taken on an important leadership role in advancing Jewish life on the one hand, and combating antisemitism on the other.
Kantor, who has been re-elected as President of the European Jewish Congress three times, is the democratically-elected leader of European Jewish communities.
He has led European Jewry through some difficult years, amid a significant rise in antisemitism, terrorist attacks and laws against Jewish practices, such as brit mila (circumcision) and shechita (humane method of animal slaughter). Under his leadership, Jewish communities have been reinvigorated in many parts of the continent.
As head of the Luxembourg Forum on Preventing Nuclear Catastrophe, an international nongovernmental organization uniting world-renowned experts on nonproliferation of nuclear weapons, materials and delivery vehicles, Kantor has warned against the threat of terrorism, and even the possibility of terrorists using “dirty-bombs” on mainland Europe. He also spoke out about the dangers of the nuclear agreement with Iran, the world’s top state sponsor of terrorism.
As president of the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation, an organization of former European leaders which prepares practical recommendations to governments and international organizations on improving interreligious and interethnic relations on the continent, Kantor has been at the forefront of promoting greater tolerance and fighting racism, xenophobia and antisemitism.
He has received many national honors, most recently in 2015, the Officer of the National Order of the Legion of Honor from French President Francois Hollande, the highest civilian honor in France for leading the fight against antisemitism, racism, intolerance and xenophobia and promoting interfaith relations and a more tolerant Europe.
During the bestowal ceremony at the Elysee Palace, President Francois Hollande called Kantor “a man of peace, a man of culture, a friend, and a friend of France.”
“You are an inspiring person in the Jewish world, a great figure of the Jewish People in Europe, heading a major institution, the European Jewish Congress, which today represents 42 communities,” Hollande said before bestowing the award. “You and the EJC are promoting Jewish culture, interfaith dialogue and tolerance, fighting antisemitism and racism and preserving the memory of the Holocaust. Because of all these reasons, all of these values – your fight against antisemitism and for peace, and for your love of France – we honor you here today.”