NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A prominent New York City rabbi officially received his high honor from Vatican City on Monday.

As WCBS 880’s Monica Miller reported, Rabbi Arthur Schneier of Park East Synagogue on the Upper East Side was welcomed to as a papal knight for his work to promote peace and mutual understanding.

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“In 1965, at the height of religious persecution in the Soviet Union, I mobilized with Robert Kennedy religious leaders of all faiths in an appeal to conscience that resulted in our first religious freedom mission to Moscow — but via Rome,” Schneier said.

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and former New York City Mayor David Dinkins were on hand as Cardinal Timothy Dolan presented Schneier with the honor.

The rabbi knight is now of one of the same orders that once took part in the crusades. This particular title is “The Pontifical Order of St. Sylvester, Pope and Martyr,” CBS2’s Lou Young reported this past Friday.

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Schneier has been a rabbi at the East Side synagogue for more than 50 years. He is a holocaust survivor known around the world for learning from the past and urging the use of religion to unite, rather than divide.

“This is a clear message that Pope Francis is continuing rapprochement with the Jewish people,” he said last week.

Christian knights on horseback and their history are a curious ecumenical symbol, but the order that Rabbi Schneier is joining has been reformed twice. Other non-Christian knights include the likes of Oscar Schindler, who rescued Jews during the Holocaust.

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Rabbi Schneier was visited by Pope Benedict in 2008, and greeted Pope Francis at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.