Bnai Brith’ Highest Award to Former Vice Mayor Sepp Rieder

Austrian News Brief: March 2008

Vienna’s Bnai Brith Zwi Peres Chajes Lodge gave its highest honor Feb. 24 to Sepp Rieder, former Vice Mayor of Vienna and President of the Austria Israel Society cited by Israeli ambassador Dan Ashbel for “his service to Israel and the Jewish People,” conferring on him the status of ‘honorary Zionist’.

“Sepp Rieder is a ‘mensch’,” Ashbel said, “which in Yiddish means that he does the humanly right thing and is a man of his word.”

In accepting the honor, Rieder denied he had done anything out of the ordinary.

“It is an indictment of Austrian and Viennese society that for such ‘normal’ words and actions for a person in my position, an award be given for what should be expected,” Rieder said.

The award – a silver Menorah inscribed with the symbol of Bnai Brith (sons of the covenant) – was presented by Victor Wagner, President of the Bnai Brith Maimonides Lodge Vienna, who said he had lost 50 family members in the Holocaust ‘for no other reason than for the fact that they were born Jews.’

The audience at the event in Bnai Brith Lodge in Vienna’s 4th District included the ambassadors of Germany, Rumania, the Chief Rabbi of Austria and the President of the Austrian-Israel Society, among others dignitaries and civic leaders.

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