Tributes to the Queen flood in from Jewish community

Queen Elizabeth II passed away at Balmoral earlier today


Britain's Queen Elizabeth II sits on a throne during her coronation in Westminster Abbey in London. (Photo by CENTRAL PRESS PHOTO LTD / AFP) (Photo by -/CENTRAL PRESS PHOTO LTD/AFP via Getty Images)

The Chief Rabbi has led the tributes to The Queen, with a video message posted on social media describing the monarch as "our rock".

Tributes also poured in from Jewish groups and leading political figures following the announcement of the Queen’s death.

In his message, the Chief Rabbi said: "The Queen embodied the most noble values of British society. Throughout her extraordinary reign she conducted herself with grace, dignity and humility, and was a global role model for distinguished leadership and selfless devotion to society. In an ever-changing world, she was a rock of stability and a champion of timeless values."

The Board of Deputies released a statement saying: “The Board of Deputies of British Jews mourns the death of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. No words can fully describe the extent of our nation’s loss; Her Majesty’s wisdom, benevolence and dedication to duty served as an inspiration to generations of British citizens, including our community. May Her memory be for blessing.

“We extend our deepest sympathies to Her Majesty’s Son and Heir and all the members of the Royal Family. We pray that our nation will benefit from the strength and understanding of our new Sovereign for many years to come.

“God save the King. Long live the King.”

Baroness Ros Altmann spoke of the monarch’s “real interest in Jewish traditions and customs” throughout her life.

The Tory peer and former government minister told the JC: “This is such a sad day for our country. We have lost the most marvellous monarch, who dedicated her life to her nation with devotion, dignity and. fortitude.

“She was truly respectful of all her subjects, keen to meet religious leaders and showed a real interest in Jewish traditions and customs.

“We are so fortunate to have grown up during her reign, with her strength and courage guiding us in the modern world and her values of honesty and decency helping to underpin public life.

“I engaged with her in the 1980s in connection with the issue of women in business and in more recent years on the value of encouraging later life working, combatting ageism and ensuring older citizens remain a valued part of national life, of which she was such a shining example.

“She will be hugely missed. May her memory be for a blessing. My thoughts and prayers are with her and her family at this saddest of times.”

And Labour MP Christian Wakeford said simply: “At a time of such sadness, I would echo the words of Churchill, who said upon her father’s passing: ‘We cannot at this moment do more than record a spontaneous expression of our grief.’.”

A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism said: "For over seven decades, in synagogues across Britain, Her Majesty the Queen’s Jewish subjects have recited a prayer for 'our Sovereign Lady, Queen Elizabeth'.

“Each week we have prayed that Her Majesty be blessed with wisdom and understanding, that she advance the welfare of our nation, and that she be preserved in life.” 

"Campaign Against Antisemitism joins the Jewish community and the nation in mourning the passing of Her Majesty.

“We are grateful for an extraordinary monarch who led our country through good times and bad over a lifetime spent in service, acting as a rock and inspiration to her subjects and the world.

“Our thoughts are with the Royal Family. May her memory be for a blessing.”

Michael Goldstein, President of the United Synagogue, said: "For 70 years, the Queen has been a constant for generations of United Synagogue members, the wider Jewish community and the nation at large.

“Across the country, every week, without exception, we say the Prayer for the Royal Family in our shuls.

"Since 1952 when Her Majesty the Queen ascended to the throne, there have been more than a dozen versions of the Prayer for the Royal Family to reflect changes to the royal family: marriages and, sadly, deaths.

“The one constant in the prayer throughout the last seventy years has been Our Sovereign Lady, Queen Elizabeth.

“With a heavy heart, we shall now be issuing a new prayer to our communities as we join together to pray that God blesses our new King and puts a spirit and wisdom into his heart and into the heart of all of his counsellors.“

"Earlier this year we celebrated the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee as Her Majesty marked 70 years on the throne. The number 70 has particular significance in Judaism. Pirkei Avot, Ethics of our Fathers, teaches that when someone reaches the age of 70 they have fullness of years. It was what the Rabbis considered to be a full life.

“And what better way could there be to describe Her Majesty the Queen’s extraordinary contribution to our country.

“Her Majesty the Queen will be profoundly missed but memories of her will live long in our hearts.

"We wish her children and wider family long and happy life and that they should be spared from all trouble and sorrow."

The Queen was Patron of Jewish charity Norwood since she was crowned in 1952. Co-Presidents Lord and Lady Mendelsohn and Neville Kahn, Chair of Trustees, said in a joint statement: “The Norwood family joins the country and so many around the world in sombre mourning at the passing of our Queen.

"We pay tribute to her decades of outstanding and devoted service and her steadfast leadership of our country.

"We are especially grateful and humbled to have the Sovereign as our Patron and for Her Majesty’s support and the interest she showed in Norwood’s work throughout her reign.

"Our thoughts are with the Royal Family. May the Almighty comfort them among the other mourners and may Her Majesty’s memory be for a blessing.”

Rabbi Charley Baginsky, of Liberal Judaism, said: "Liberal Judaism joins people all across our country, and the world, mourning Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. 

"The Queen was a shining example to us all. She was a great friend to the Jewish community, tireless in her charity work and a strong female leader in a world where that wasn’t common.

“At Liberal Judaism we will continue to follow her example. We send our deepest condolences to The Queen’s children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and all the Royal Family. May her memory be a blessing.”

And Rabbi Dr Charles Middleburgh, Dean of Leo Baeck College, said: “The Governors, faculty, staff and students of Leo Baeck College join the many millions in the United Kingdom and abroad mourning the death of Her Majesty the Queen.

“We record our abiding gratitude for her long life of service, and the stability that her reign has offered to so many.

“We send our sincere condolences to her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren who are mourning the loss of a beloved matriarch. We stand with them in their grief at her death.”

In New York, World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder said: “The World Jewish Congress and its more than 100 Jewish communities across the globe join the nation and people of the United Kingdom, and British Jewry in mourning the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, during whose 70-year reign Jewish communities in Great Britain, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and across the Commonwealth have flourished and grown in peace and security.

"Queen Elizabeth’s was a life of service and faith, in which love of country, Commonwealth, God and family was the supreme value.“

"She and her family were beloved symbols of resistance to Nazi tyranny, refusing to leave London during the worst times of the Blitz and standing in solidarity under siege with their compatriots.

"The young Princess Elizabeth was an inspiration and source of comfort to Anne Frank in her hiding place in Amsterdam and in 2015, she and her late husband, Prince Philip, visited the former Nazi concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen in northern Germany, where Anne Frank died, to commemorate its liberation by British troops.

"Queen Elizabeth’s refusal to flinch in the face of evil, but instead to fight it with every formidable fiber of her character, will be an inspiration for generations to come.

“On behalf of Jewish communities across the globe, I extend our deepest condolences to her family, and to the nation and people of the United Kingdom.

"May her memory and her example be a blessing.”

David Hirsh, chief executive of the London Centre for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism, offered a personal reflection of what the Queen had meant to his own family.

He said: “My mother was, as a German child of eight years old, a refugee from the Nazis. Huge numbers of British Jews are descended from refugees. Queen Elizabeth was symbolic, for my mum, and for many, of the new home that they found, where they could feel at home.

“This is a common experience for many immigrant communities in Britain. For many, Queen Elizabeth symbolises the country where they found refuge, freedom, and the opportunity to make new and successful lives.

“Queen Elizabeth and her husband participated fully in the successful efforts of the democratic states to defeat Hitler. That was their decision and their commitment; others in both of their families made other choices. An anecdote about Queen Elizabeth is being told widely in the Jewish community this morning about a particular meeting that she had with a group of Holocaust survivors. People remember how warm and engaged she was with them and how much time she spent with them; and how moved she was by their stories”

Mr Hirsh said the LCSCA had decided to postpone the launch of its new centre at the Bloomsbury Theatre on Sunday. “We believe that it would not be appropriate for us to go ahead,” he said.

He added: “We were organising a major, public, celebration to launch our new Centre, with lectures, conversation, music, drama and comedy.

“That was to be the first day of a three day academic conference bringing together a global community of antisemitism scholars. “Our big event on Sunday was going to be unique. It was unique for an academic conference to reach out in such a successful way to wider communities of interest, including people for whom democratic politics was key, including the institutions of the Jewish community, including anti-antisemitism activists, including the Jewish community more widely.

“It was unique because no event that I know of has been organised before, of comparable size and quality on the issue of contemporary antisemitism. A number of the most celebrated intellectuals, writers, politicians and people from civil society were due to appear on the stage.

“Composer Sam Eastmond, who is also the Chair of our Board of Trustees, had composed a new piece of music for the event, to take us out of the minute’s silence in memory of 9/11. It was called The Shadows of the Protocols.

“Yesterday we had just about sold out the 535 theatre seats yesterday. We would certainly have been full by today.

“Very many people had put a huge amount of work, thought, time and money into this event. We thank them warmly for that, and we are sorry that it has had to be cancelled.”

But, he said, a planned academic conference on 21st century antisemitism will still go ahead on Monday and Tuesday. “If people in London are going to work on Monday and Tuesday, then we should go to work too,” Mr Hirsh said.

He added: “Further, many scholars have travelled from all over the world to be in London for this conference, they have invested time and travel money, and we are working very hard to make sure that this is not for nothing.”

Mr Hirsh added: “Sombre best wishes to you all.”

The Queen was Patron of the Council of Christians and Jews, who described her death as a “tremendous loss”.

A CCJ spokesperson added: “She has been a beacon of understanding and tolerance in British society between different faith and ethnic groups.

“We were privileged to have her as our Patron since 1952, making us one of the first charities to which Her Majesty pledged her support. Through this role and more widely, she conveyed a deep sense of the importance of interfaith relations, inspired by her own Christian faith. This fundamental message was often communicated in her Christmas broadcasts, which so sincerely conveyed a Christian message and at the same time had a more universal appeal, across the boundaries of faiths and nations.

“On the many occasions that the Queen supported CCJ’s work, she expressed her personal endorsement of endeavours to improve relationships between people of different faiths in her diverse kingdom. Her Majesty generously hosted annual receptions for CCJ Presidents and members in the 1980s and ‘90s, and was a special guest at CCJ's 70th anniversary celebration in 2011. All these occasions are remembered warmly by those who attended.

“We are deeply grateful to Her Majesty for the service she gave to the people of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth and particularly to relationships between Jews and Christians. We are confident that her legacy of faith, duty and hope will inspire all of us to do more to strengthen our country’s community of faiths.

“We pray for the memory of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and pass on our sincere condolences to HM The King along with the entire Royal Family; and we pray for HM The King as he begins his reign.”

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