When King Charles is crowned on Saturday, two of the country's leading rabbis will attend the coronation, even though is takes place on Shabbat.
Rabbi Joseph Dweck, senior rabbi of the S&P Sephardi Community of the United Kingdom, told Ynet in an interview on Thursday that "I was invited to the coronation and I will represent my community. Since the event is on Shabbat, I will go there on foot."
Charles "is very fond of the Jewish community, and has been connected to Jewish communities throughout his life," the rabbi said.
When asked how he thinks the kingship of Charles will affect the relationship between the kingdom and the Jewish community in Great Britain, Dweck said: "I would say that relations will even improve, because really throughout his life the king has liked the Jewish community. My community is the oldest community in the country; we have been here for over 360 years, and he knows it and respects it. He also knows that the Jews contributed a lot to the life of the country and its existence."
Dweck points out that Charles is an official supporter of the Bevis-Marks synagogue, the oldest synagogue in the country, which is affiliated with London's historic Spanish and Portuguese Jewish community.
The rabbi told Ynet that the king's close relationship with the Jewish community has helped vis-à-vis antisemitism. "People see that the king is close to us, respects us and is present at our events and our ceremonies," he said.
Dweck, who has lived in the United Kingdom for the last decade and prior to that in the United States, says that the British Jewish community has felt the increase in antisemitism in recent years, which is concerning. But he says that the royal family has recognized the problem and has been responsive to these concerns.
Even before he sat on the throne, Charles was the patron of no less than four Jewish organizations in Britain: the Jewish Museum, the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, the Jewish Relief Organization, and the Jewish Lads' and Girls' Brigade youth movement. Thanks to his financial contribution, a Jewish community center was established in Krakow, Poland, after Charles visited there and was exposed to the plight of Holocaust survivors in Poland. Over the years, Charles has visited many synagogues in Britain, and has publicly spoken out against anti-Semitism.
Britain's chief rabbi, Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, also will participate in the coronation - and will be one of a number of religious leaders who will give a blessing in honor of the new king. He will speak without a microphone, because of Shabbat.
Mirvis said that, at first, the palace offered to send him a carriage with a horse to take him to the coronation ceremony, but he said that this is a violation of the laws of Shabbat. Instead, they will house him in the nearby St. James Palace so that he can walk to the ceremony.
"In all the discussions, it was clear that the king and the palace are very enthusiastic about making sure that we are accommodated and feel comfortable. They told us, without us even having to ask, that they won’t put a microphone in front of me, because of the Shabbat. My wife and I will also stay at the St. James Palace, close to the abbey, as guests of the king and the queen consort. On every communication between my office and the palace, they checked every little detail, including kosher catering so we can eat hot Shabbat food," Mirvis told Ynet.
The rabbi hailed the king’s warm relationship with the Jewish community. "When he was the Prince of Wales, he talked about his will to be the champion of all faiths," says Mirvis, "so it was expected that the coronation would include representation of faiths other than Christian."
The king’s excellent relationship with the Jewish community was there from the very beginning of Mirvis' tenure as chief rabbi a decade ago. That's when Charles left a family holiday in Scotland to attend the chief rabbi's investiture, the first time a member of the royal family had ever attended. Mirvis notes that he has visited Israel with Charles twice – once for the funeral of Shimon Peres and then in January 2020 for an international forum on the Holocaust.
Mirvis says of King Charles: "He is a great person. Warm, friendly, very talkative. One can wonder if people at this level really mean what they say, or it’s just because of their job, and I defiantly believe that hie means every word. He is a very good friend of the Jewish people. I also met Camilla and she’s the same. I’m very happy that the most famous royalty member in the world welcomes the Jewish people, and that I have the personal privilege of being there. It is a great era for our people."
Israel's President Isaac Herzog and his wife, Michal, landed in London on Wednesday and will represent the State of Israel at the coronation. According to an official announcement: "In order to observe the sanctity of the Sabbath, the president and his wife will march to the coronation ceremony from their residence near Westminster Abbey, and will work in coordination with the chief rabbi of British Judaism, Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis."
On Friday at 4:00 p.m. (UK time), the president will participate in a reception that King Charles III will hold at Buckingham Palace in honor of the heads of state, kings, presidents, prime ministers and royal families who will come from all over the world to honor the coronation.
The next day, Saturday, at 10:00 a.m., the president and his wife will participate in the official coronation ceremony of Charles III in Westminster Abbey, alongside world leaders.
Meanwhile, Another honor King Charles III is set to receive leading up to his upcoming coronation is a new rendition of the traditional Jewish prayer, "Adon Olam," performed by a British-Jewish children's choir. The United Synagogue, a union of British Orthodox synagogues, commissioned the new recording and dedicated it to the new king.
First published: 18:59, 05.04.23