The UK’s Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis has reflected on how times have changed in Britain following his special treatment during the coronation of King Charles III at London’s Westminster Abbey.
He reminds us how, when Richard I was crowned at the same venue on September 3rd 1189, Jews were barred from attending.
And when, in a spirit of goodwill, some Jewish leaders arrived bearing gifts for the new king, they were stripped and flogged, sparking off a pogrom which saw arsonists set fire to many homes and thirty innocent Jews senselessly murdered. Among them was Rabbi Jacob of Orléans, the most senior rabbi in England at the time.
“These tragic events stand in sharp contrast to our experience as Jews in 21st century Britain,” noted the Chief Rabbi, who was among non-Christian faith leaders taking part in the service.
He was even given special consideration in view of Sabbath laws, which meant he did not need to use a microphone when officially greeting the king.
“At every stage, the palace has been sensitive to the requirements of halacha (Jewish Law) when considering how best to include us,” he said.
He and his wife Valerie were hosted overnight at nearby St James’ Palace where they were able to celebrate a traditional Shabbat.
“We are blessed to have a monarch who holds a deep, personal conviction that there is great strength in the diversity of our country and who cherishes his warm relationship with British Jews,” the Chief Rabbi added.
“Nearly a thousand years ago, the coronation of a monarch was a time to weep for the Jewish community, but today, thank God, it is a time for great celebration …May our country be blessed to know many more moments of such celebration, and may God save the King!”
Charles’ friendship with the Jewish community is well documented. He has long held special teas for Holocaust survivors, for instance, and is very proud of his grandmother’s role in saving the lives of a Jewish family during World War II. Princess Alice of Greece, honoured as Righteous Among the Nations, is buried on the Mount of Olives.
Charles Gardner is author of Israel the Chosen, available from Amazon; Peace in Jerusalem, available from olivepresspublisher.com; To the Jew First, A Nation Reborn, and King of the Jews, all available from Christian Publications International.
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