This year’s honours are extremely well-deserved

The JC Leader, 14 July 2023

July 13, 2023 12:28

It is easy to take for granted the position of our community in the public life of the nation. Tuesday’s honours ceremony at Windsor Castle was, however, a reminder of the best and the worst aspects of recent times.

The knighthood for the Chief Rabbi is both appropriate and well-merited. But it is also, importantly, entirely unsurprising.

No one has passed any comment on the fact that a Jewish faith leader has been knighted, which was not the case when one of Sir Ephraim’s predecessors, Immanuel Jacobovits, was knighted in 1981 (and even more so when he was ennobled as Lord Jacobovits in 1988). That lack of adverse reaction is itself telling, and good.

The MBE for Rachel Riley was also well-merited. Ms Riley could easily have kept her head down when confronted with the outpouring of antisemitism unleashed by the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader. She was a TV presenter, not a community leader. Instead — like her fellow warrior Tracy-Ann Oberman — she chose to risk her career to fight the bigots.

She stood proud as a Jew and inspired so many, both within our community and outside it, to confront Jew hate. That such a fight remains necessary was shown by the deluge of hatred on social media this week that greeted her award.

She will doubtless have been supremely unbothered by it. But it remains ever present and must be confronted.

Meanwhile, we say both to Sir Ephraim and Ms Riley MBE, a hearty mazeltov.

July 13, 2023 12:28

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