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March 15, 2012 3:25 pm

Moroccan King Awards Rabbi with Prestigious “Order of the Throne” Award

avatar by Srolic Barber

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From right to left: Consul General of Morocco to the United states Mohamed Karmoune, H.E. Ambassador of the King of Morocco and president of the Jewish Community of Morocco, Serge Berdugo, H.E. Ambassador Rachad Bouhlal, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco to the United States and Rabbi Raphael Benchimol of Manhattan Sephardic Congregation posing next to the gift given to His Majesty Mohammed VI King of Morocco by the Manhattan Sephardic Congregation. Photo: Irving Schild.

Rabbi Raphael Benchimol, an orthodox Rabbi of the Manhattan Sephardic Congregation was decorated, on Sunday in New York, with the Knight of the Order of the Throne from Mohammed VI King of Morocco.

At a time of tenuous relations between Israel and her neighbors, exacerbated by the recent flare-up in Israel’s south and the dismal failure of Jordanian sponsored peace talks, this occurrence serves to inspire the possibility of cultural tolerance between Jews and Moslems.

The ceremony was held at the Centre for Jewish History in downtown Manhattan, and was attended by dignitaries and community members. Ambassador of the King of Morocco, Serge Berdugo, presided over the ceremony, in which the Moroccan Ambassador to the United States, Rachad Bouhlal, Chairman of the American Sephardi Federation, David Dangoor, and Jamal Benomar, Special Adviser to the Secretary General to the United Nations of Yemen, also participated.

In his speech, Ambassador Berdugo highlighted the importance of the ceremony, noting, “This constitutional recognition of the Jewish component of Moroccan identity deserves to praised in the actual world context.”

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Praising Rabbi Raphael Benchimol for his devotion to the Moroccan Jewish community, rehabilitating and renovating the Jewish cemeteries and sacred sites in Morocco, Ambassador Berdugo then presented the medal to the Moroccan-born Rabbi.

“It is a real pleasure and a delightful occasion to honor a man of conviction and action, of study and knowledge, a man at the service of his Community, a man of faithful support to Morocco and a friend,” Berdugo concluded.

Rabbi Benchimol, on behalf of the Manhattan Sephardic Congregation, presented a silver crown – the kind typically used to adorn the Jewish Torah Scroll in synagogues – to the Kingdom of Morocco. The inscription on the display case was addressed personally to His Majesty, Mohammed VI King of Morocco, and carried the blessing: “May G-d Always watch over you and protect you.”

Addressing the crowd, Rabbi Benchimol spoke of the importance of cultural education, to teach the next generation – children who were not born in Morocco – about their “illustrious and glorious past,” adding, “although we left Morocco, Morocco never leaves us.  It is deeply engraved in our hearts.”

Moroccan Ambassador to the United States, Rachad Bouhlal, also took the pulpit, and, Liliane Shalom, Honorary President of the American Sephardi Federation, was Mistress of Ceremonies.

The honor has previously been awarded to Jason Isaacson, director of government and international affairs of the American Jewish Committee, in September 2009.

Photos of Sunday’s ceremony are included below.

Ambassador of the King of Morocco and President of the Jewish Community of Morocco, Serge Berdugo (left) presenting the medal of Knight of the Order of the Throne to Rabbi Raphael Benchimol, spiritual leader of Manhattan Sephardic Congregation. Photo: Irving Schild.

Ambassador of the King of Morocco and president of the Jewish Community of Morocco, Serge Berdugo (left) presenting the diploma of Knight of the Order of the Throne to Rabbi Raphael Benchimol, spiritual leader of Manhattan Sephardic Congregation. Photo: Irving Schild.

From right to left: Consul General of Morocco to the United states Mohamed Karmoune, H.E. Ambassador of the King of Morocco and president of the Jewish Community of Morocco, Serge Berdugo, H.E. Ambassador Rachad Bouhlal, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco to the United States and Rabbi Raphael Benchimol of Manhattan Sephardic Congregation posing next to the gift given to His Majesty Mohammed VI King of Morocco by the Manhattan Sephardic Congregation. Photo: Irving Schild.

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  • sylvain dahan le makhzeni

    tu defend bien tes juifs sionistes qui bombarent à l’aveuglette le peuple palestiniens ,oui je sias vous voulez qu’il vous aident dans votre colonisation du sahara occidental , mais on verra bien ,la volonté d’un peuple (saharaui) ne se s’abaissera jamais et on révoletra pour notre dignité et notre liberté par la démocratie , LE SAHARA OCCIDENTAL LIBRE TOT OU TARD INCHAALLAH.

  • sylvain dahan

    Je désire dire ici toute mon admiration pour ce jeune Rabbin pour ce qu’il a fait, mais aussi et surtout réitérer mon admiration et mon respect pour Sa Majesté le Roi Mohamed VI, pour le travail qu’il fait dans son Royaume et la continuité de son Père Hassan II et son grand-père Mohamed V pour leur bonté envers la communauté juive marocaine.
    Le Maroc a été le seul pays arabe ou les juifs ont eu une vie paisible ; Le Maroc a été et reste encore, un modèle parfait de cohabitation entre juifs et musulmans.
    Longue vie au Roi Mohamed VI !!

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