Shout out this week to Queen Elizabeth II. May she rest in peace. Yehi zichra baruch.
She was born in 1926, two years before the invention of sliced bread, and reigned over Britain for more than seven decades, a time that spanned World War II, 15 Prime Ministers, 13 US Presidents, seven Popes, the Internet, Brexit, Covid, and the sun setting on 56 of the 70 territories of the British Empire. Through it all, the Queen remained a solid symbol of decency and decorum, and her dedication to service to the Commonwealth was a constant, despite the many personal pains she endured.
As the news of the Queen’s death broke, ordinary Brits converged at both Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace and, in a scene too fantastical even for The Crown, a double rainbow appeared outside the palace as the crowd sang “God Save the Queen.”
In my earlier years, I was a bit of a cynic regarding the value and relevancy of the monarch in modern society. But then I lived in England for 10 weeks and in addition to learning to love warm beer, I learned firsthand how the monarch, and the Queen herself, represented the heart and soul of the country. I attended the Trooping of the Colours ceremony in the early 80’s (along with tens of thousands of others), and witnessed the pageantry associated with the celebration of the sovereign’s birthday, and I also learned the significant role the monarch plays in the tourism economy of the country.
She inherited the throne in 1952, after a rushed series of devolutions across the British empire, including the ouster of Britain from Mandatory Palestine in 1948, which led to the founding of the state of Israel. While she was criticized by some Jews for never visiting Israel, the Queen inspired loyalty from UK Jews throughout her reign. And, throughout her reign she built a solid relationship with the Jews as symbolized by a few selected anecdotes provided below:
- She had her sons circumcised — something that was unusual at the time. The practice among royals predated by at least a century the belief that circumcision may be medically beneficial. Elizabeth, wanting a professional to do the job, brought in a mohel named Jacob Snowman. The hiring of Snowman for such delicate work characterized the close relationship between the British princess and the Jewish community, one that continued when she assumed the throne.
- Her private art collection in Windsor Castle included many Jewish artifacts, including a Torah scroll rescued from Czechoslovakia during the Holocaust.Elizabeth elevated several chief rabbis to knighthood, and two to the House of Lords.
- In 1972, British Jews vowed to plant one million trees in Israel to honor the queen’s 25th wedding anniversary to Prince Philip.
- The second-ever Israeli envoy to the UK, Eliahu Eilat, was granted a rare sit-down dinner and overnight visit with the queen at Windsor Castle in 1959.
- In 2000, the queen inaugurated Britain’s first permanent memorial to the Holocaust. She served as the patron of the UK Holocaust Memorial Day Trust from its establishment in 2005 until she passed it on to Prince Charles in 2015.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog called her death the “end of an era. Throughout her long and momentous reign, the world changed dramatically, while the Queen remained an icon of stable, responsible leadership, and a beacon of morality, humanity and patriotism,” he said in a statement. “In her life and in her service to her people, the Queen embodied a spirit of integrity, duty and ancient tradition.” Amen.
I have been reading a lot about Elizabeth in preparation for the JNR this week. I strongly recommend this piece by British-American author, Andrew Sullivan, who speaks glowingly of the Queen’s selflessness and presents her and the monarch as a “symbolic, sacred, mystical thread through time and space” that is “simply a gift from the past that the British people, in their collective wisdom, have refused to return.” For the full story, click here. As for King Charles III, let’s hope he has sufficient time left to redeem himself of his overall douche-baggie-ness and deplorable relationship with Princess Di. His speech Friday was a good start and he ended it on a personal note to his mom, with a final quote taken from Hamlet, “And to my darling Mama, as you begin your last great journey to join my dear late Papa, I want simply to say this: thank you. Thank you for your love and devotion to our family and to the family of nations you have served so diligently all these years. May “flights of Angels sing thee to thy rest”.
Speaking of douche-bags, how sweet is the prospect of seeing Steve Bannon behind bars, followed shortly thereafter by the orange turd? Both of these a-holes have mounting legal problems that should eventually put them in the clinker for some serious “me” time. But, no kenahoras. Stay tuned and stay hopeful. And let’s also hope Ukraine continues to kick some Russian ass!
Now, onto some other news for the Jews, carefully curated by yours truly from various Jewish sources:
- On culture: Ken Burns “The U.S. and the Holocaust” – The long awaited (and dreaded) documentary by the famous film maker will be released on September 18 and run in 3 parts on PBS. In interviews about “The U.S. and the Holocaust,” Burns, whose wife is Jewish, has often cited the famous quote from Mark Twain, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.” “Now,” said Burns, “almost every sentence of the film rhymes with the present in terrifying ways.” Burns explores the history of the Holocaust in the US in three distinct sections, the first exposing America’s national mythology as a country welcoming refugees as pure fantasy. Sandy and I will be attending a special screening and interview with Burns at Symphony Hall next Monday. Click here for more on Burns documentary.
- King Charles: A mensch for all seasons? Hard to believe, but rumor has it his homeliness was a big fan of Barbra Streisand, and, as a 2016 book by Christopher Anderson alleged, from the 1970s through the 1990s, Charles persistently tried to romance her! These and other gems present a convincing case that King Charles III was, is, and will be a bigger friend to the Jews than his mom. For more, click here.
- 🎭 Are Rosenstein and Guildenberg still alive? – Tom Stoppard said he was compelled to write the multigenerational drama “Leopoldstadt,” which premieres on Broadway next month, out of “guilt” over his newly discovered Jewish past. Stoppard’s mother, who fled the Nazis when he was a child, married a British army officer, played down her history and her Jewishness, and he followed her lead in not looking back. “I don’t recall ever consciously resisting finding out about myself,” Stoppard said in a new profile. “It’s worse than that. I wasn’t actually interested. I was never curious enough. I just looked in one direction: forward.” (New York Times)
- NFL 2022: A Jew preview – First it’s the banks, now it’s the NFL owners box! My brother tells me there are 10 NFL owners with Jewish heritage so a quick fact check revealed he was spot on Click here. However, there are probably more Jewish owners than players in the league! But, if you want to root for your favorite Jewish player, you have the following to chose from: Jake Curhan, Seattle Seahawks, A.J. Dillon, Green Bay Packers, Michael Dunn, Cleveland Browns, Anthony Firkser, Atlanta Falcons, Greg Joseph, Minnesota Vikings, and Josh Rosen, Cleveland Browns. Two additional players — veteran Nate Ebnerand Sam Sloman — are currently unsigned free agents. Sloman, a placekicker who was drafted by the Rams in 2020 and has also played for the Titans, was waived from the Pittsburgh Steelers practice squad in May. While at Miami University in Ohio, Sloman’s teammates called him the “Kosher Canon.”
- Oops! Maybe we did it after all, but it was an accident! The Israeli military admitted on Monday that it is “highly probable” that an Israeli soldier mistakenly killed Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh while she was reporting on a raid in the occupied West Bank for Al Jazeera in May. The Biden administration had been pressuring Israel to release the findings of its investigation into the incident, while some members of Congress called for an expanded probe. Click here for more.
- 😲 A commenter on the website of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation offered $5,000 to anyone who murdered a member of the group, $6,000 “if they are a kike.” – The organization was founded in 2005 to ensure U.S. soldiers can freely practice their religion and is run by a Jewish veteran, Mikey Weinstein. Weinstein’s son Casey served in the Air Force and is a state lawmaker in Ohio who has faced harassment from the religious right. (JTA)
- Iran deal collapsing? Or is this a political bone Biden is throwing to Lapid – In my humble opinion, it’s the latter. How convenient that right before Israel elections in November, Lapid can claim that pressure from his government on the US negotiations with Iran on a new JCPOA is what derailed the deal, which would be hugely popular in Israel where a vast majority are against it. I smell politics at play! For more click here.
Well, that’s all I’ve got this week. God bless the Queen! And hey, stay careful out there!