STU Center Director Honored by Queen Elizabeth II
Rabbi Mark L. Winer, Founding Director of the Center for Ecumenical and Interreligious Studies at Miami’s St. Thomas University, was honored by Queen Elizabeth II on New Year’s Eve as she officially announced that he was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), in recognition of his work promoting interreligious partnerships during a period of rising religious tensions in England. The award is announced in the Queen’s 2014 New Year’s “Honours List.” According to the citation from the Queen, it is “for promoting interfaith dialogue and social cohesion in London and the UK.” Rabbi Winer is the first American-born rabbi to receive royal honor for promoting interfaith relations.
“I am humbled and thrilled to accept the MBE,” said Rabbi Winer, who for 30 years led congregations in the United States before moving to London in 1998 for 12 years as Senior Rabbi of the West London Synagogue of British Jews – Reform Judaism flagship temple in Europe. “This signal honor demonstrates the importance of continuing the crucial work of improving interfaith relations, education, mutual respect and understanding, to combat religious hatred and violence in the world.”
Rabbi Winer, a graduate with honors from Harvard and Yale, was instrumental in building interfaith relations and preaching for interreligious reconciliation after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States, and the 7/7 London underground bombings. During that period, he appeared frequently on national BBC broadcasts calling for understanding and respect.
While in London, Rabbi Winer launched a British branch of his international interfaith charitable initiative “FAITH: The Foundation to Advance Interfaith Trust and Harmony,” which he founded in the United States in 1995. Upon returning to the United States in September 2010, the Rabbi continued his lifelong devotion to interreligious reconciliation. In addition to being the founding director of the Center for Ecumenical and Interreligious Studies at St. Thomas University, affiliated with the Archdiocese of Miami, he is an adjunct professor of religion at the university’s School of Theology and Ministry.
His long career spans from being Chairman of the International Faith Task Force for the World Union for Progressive Judaism, the Reform Jewish movement’s global arm, and President of the National Council of Synagogues (USA) to being a key negotiator in solving the dispute between Catholics and Jews over the Carmelite convent in Auschwitz, the release of Ethiopian Jews, and resolving issues that led to the Treaty between Israel and the Vatican.
The MBE will be officially conferred within the next few months by the Queen at St. James’s Palace in London in an “investiture” by the Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood.