Rabbi awarded prize

Chief Rabbi of Norway honored for Mosaica, building relationships across religious lines

Rabbi Michael Melchior

Photo courtesy of Rabbi Michael Melchior
Rabbi Melchior (second from left) accepts the Ambassador for Liberty and Peace award.

Marit Fosse
Geneva, Switzerland

In Geneva, Switzerland, on April 29, Danish-Norwegian Rabbi Michael Melchior, founder and president of Mosaica—Religion, Society and State, was honored with the Jean Nussbaum and Eleanor Roosevelt International Award of Excellence, Ambassador for Liberty and Peace.

A descendant of seven generations of rabbis in Denmark, Rabbi Melchior was born in Copenhagen  in 1954. His grandfather, Marcus Melchior, helped organize the escape of over 7,200 Danish Jews during the Nazi occupation of Denmark, and served as the country’s chief rabbi until his death in 1969. Michael was ordained an Orthodox Rabbi in 1980 and soon afterward became Chief Rabbi of Norway. As such, he was a familiar face on television and was often in the news. In 1986, he emigrated to Israel and settled down with his family in Jerusalem, while still holding the honorary title of Chief Rabbi of Norway.

The award was given at the Global Summit on Religion, Peace, and Security in Geneva. The two-day Summit was co-organized by the International Association for the Defense of Religious Liberty and the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect.

The Ambassador for Liberty and Peace Award recognizes the work of individuals and organizations that have played an important role in promoting peace and human rights, in particular freedom of religion and belief, as well as preventing atrocities and crimes of violent extremism based on the abuse of religion. It is given annually to leading international figures for their leadership and dedication to promoting peace, religious liberty, and freedom of conscience for all.

This year’s award is shared by Rabbi Melchior and Sheikh Abdallah Bin Bayyah. Rabbi Melchior received it in recognition of the major role he has played in creating and fostering relationships with religious leaders throughout the Middle East and the effect that his work has had in mitigating tensions and resolving crises in the region. Sheikh Bin Bayyah, one of the most courageous Islamic law arbitrators in the Islamic world, received the award in recognition of his leadership in the religious struggle against Al Qaeda and ISIS. He is the president of the Forum for Promoting Peace, and is the leader of 460 Islamic scholars, thinkers, and Sheikhs from all over the world.

This article originally appeared in the May 17, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American.

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Marit Fosse

Marit Fosse trained as an economist from Norwegian school of Economics and Business Administration in Bergen (Norges Handelshøyskole NHH) and then earned a doctorate in social sciences. She is the author of several books. Nansen: Explorer and Humanitarian, co-authored with John Fox, was translated into Russian/Armenian/French. In addition, Fosse is the editor of International Diplomat/Diva International in Geneva, a magazine set up 20 years ago for diplomats and persons working in the international organizations in Geneva but also elsewhere. In her free time, Fosse is an accomplished painter.