British Jewish historian Simon Schama knighted

Prolific author and documentary film host of Jewish heritage honored by royal British family.

Simon Schama in his documentary “The Story of the Jews” visits the site of the Temple Mount (photo credit: COURTESY OF TIM KIRBY © OXFORD FILM & TELEVISION 2012/ JTA)
Simon Schama in his documentary “The Story of the Jews” visits the site of the Temple Mount
(photo credit: COURTESY OF TIM KIRBY © OXFORD FILM & TELEVISION 2012/ JTA)
(JTA) — British Jewish historian Simon Schama was awarded a knighthood at Buckingham Palace for his “services to history.”
Schama, 73, will now have the honorific “Sir” before his name. He is best known for his wildly popular BBC documentary series “A History of Britain,” and his 18 history books, on topics ranging from the Rothschild family to the artist Rembrandt.
In 2013, he wrote and narrated a five-part television series on the history of the Jews and published a two-volume history of the Jewish people.
The investiture ceremony, presided over by Prince William, also honored Simon Wharton, a member of the British Royal Navy; Matthew Coffey, the COO of an education watchdog; and Rosemary Johnson, the executive director of the Royal Philharmonic Society. Schama was the only one of the four to receive a knighthood.
This is not Schama’s first award from the British Royal Family — in 2001, he was awarded the CBE award, or Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.
Schama was born in London to an Ashkenazi Jewish mother and a Sephardi Jewish father. He currently lives in New York, where he teaches history and art history at Columbia University.
Schama retweeted the royal family’s photograph of him being knighted, writing, “thank you so much to everyone kind enough to offer congratulations.”
The prolific author is also the host of The Story of the Jews. The five-part television series, covering 3,000 years of Jewish history broadcast on PBS in the United States and on the BBC in the United Kingdom to critical and popular acclaim.
“There are those who think the point of history is almost self-discovery and those who take the opposite view, that it’s about writing about people removed from you in time and place. That’s pretty much where I planted my flag until later in life,” he told JTA in a telephone interview, explaining his previous professional remove from Jewish history.