Former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright honoured with interfaith
Former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright has been given a prestigious interfaith award during a ceremony at a London synagogue.
The politician, who escaped the to Britain as a Nazis as a toddler, was recognised with the Council of Christian and Jews’ (CCJ) 2021 Bridge Award, in honour of her work promoting good relations between the two faiths.
Albright was born in Czechoslovakia in 1937 to Jewish parents before fleeing to London in 1939, where she spent the war. She only learned of her parents’ faith later in life – and that two dozen members of her family had perished in the Shoah.
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Upon receiving the award at a Zoom ceremony at South Hampstead Synagogue, Madeleine Albright, 84, said: ‘The Council of Christians and Jews has long been the United Kingdom’s leading organisation supporting interfaith engagement. It traces its history back to the depths of World War II, when an entire continent, including my native Czechoslovakia, had been lost to evil. My family was one of thousands that sought refuge in Great Britain during that time, so I am deeply humbled and enormously grateful for this honour.’
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said she “is an enormously deserving recipient of this year’s CCJ Award. I was delighted to be able to pay tribute to her many impressive achievements at the ceremony, as one of the foremost holders of the office of state she occupied.’
CCJ Chair Bishop Michael Ipgrave said: “Albright is one of the great bridge builders of our time. As the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and then the first female US Secretary of State, Dr Albright has been pioneer and an example to many. She has shown unflagging dedication to the fundamental principle of human liberty and the intrinsic worth of each individual person. We are honoured that she has accepted award; she is a continuing inspiration for so many.”
During her time as the first female Secretary of State, serving under Bill Clinton, she worked for peace in Bosnia and the Middle East, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.
The ceremony was attended by some of her close friends and family, CCJ supporters and trustees, as well as the Czech ambassador to the UK, Marie Chatardová and US embassy officials.