NEW YORK, June 3, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — The Federal Republic of Germany Honored CEO of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) David Harris with the prestigious Stern/Knight Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit. It’s the greatest tribute Germany may pay individuals for services rendered to the nation.
German Ambassador to the United States Emilie Haber presented the award to Harris as “worthy recognition of your lifelong commitment to the Jewish community and the relationship between Jews and Germany.” The ceremony took place last night at the residence of the Consul General of Germany David Gil in New York.
Harris, the son of Holocaust survivors, spearheaded the positive development of the special relationship between the AJC and Germany since becoming CEO of AJC in 1990. In doing so, he has built on the groundbreaking achievements of his predecessors at the helm of AJC. The worldwide Jewish rights organization was founded in 1906 by Jews of German descent.
The extremely difficult decision by AJC leaders in the late 1940s, very soon after the Holocaust, to re-engage Germany placed the AJC, unique among international Jewish organizations, on a journey that has resulted in a series of productive partnerships with the German government and civil society. AJC was the first global Jewish organization to commit to germany renewed sovereignty, as well as the restoration of Jewish life in Germany.
Under Harris’ leadership, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the AJC was the first major Jewish organization to support German unification. In 1994, he helped design and launch the unique partnership between AJC and the German Armed Forces. And in 1998, the AJC became the first international Jewish organization to establish a permanent presence in Germanythe AJC Berlin Lawrence and Lee Ramer Institute for German-Jewish Relations.
AJC and Germany: History in the making 1945 – 2020 details the special relationship between Germany and AJC, and Harris’ role at pivotal times over the past 32 years.
Harris has been honored more than 20 times by foreign governments for his international work. Indeed, he is the most decorated Jewish leader in American history.
He has already received two major German prizes. In 2004, the German Defense Minister stricken stone presented Harris with the Gold Cross of the German Armed Forces, for “ten years of partnership between the German Armed Forces and the American Jewish Committee.” In 2000, the German Federal President Johannes Rau presented the Das Grosse Verdienstkreuz (Grand Cross of Merit) to Harris for “his contributions to German-American and German-Jewish relations”.
SOURCE American Jewish Committee