BERLIN (JTA) — Israeli novelist Amos Oz was honored by Germany’s Reform rabbinical school with its annual Abraham Geiger Award.
The 78-year-old writer, described as an “eloquent spokesperson of the Zionist left,” was honored Thursday as “a firm believer in human beings and their ability to change the world for the better,” Rabbi Walter Homolka, rector of the Abraham Geiger College, said in announcing the award.
Speakers at the ceremony included Berlin’s Senator for Culture, Klaus Lederer, who said he appreciated Oz’s openness about social problems in Israel and his longtime promotion of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
Oz, a professor of literature at Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba, praised Germany’s past attempts to mediate the Middle East conflict. He also said that he could not have dialogue with people who denied Israel’s right to exist.
The Geiger College was founded in 1999 and has been training rabbis since 2002. It established the prize in 2000, and opened its cantorial program seven years later. Among the past recipients of the prize is German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The prize, worth more than $11,000, and the college itself, are named for the liberal, reformist rabbi, Abraham Geiger (1810-1874).
“His confidence is our consolation,” said Homolka, who also is executive director of the Zacharias Frankel College and managing director of the School of Jewish Theology at the Universität Potsdam.