Shabbat shalom on this coronation day! And a quick shout out to my Staunton friends and enthusiastic fans, Pat and Glen, for Glen’s speedy recovery from a recent fall. Hope to see you both at my next visit in July!
Wow. As I type away here on Substack, I am drawn to the live streaming of King Charles III coronation ceremony. I have not seen this much gilt, gems and jewels on so many robes in my lifetime. And what’s up with the golden orb? Brilliant. When it comes to pomp, the Brits are hands down the best. Although I would still prefer Lady Gaga singing the national anthem at our inaugural equivalent over much of what I have seen so far.
As I have noted previously, I am not a big fan of the douchey Charles. Even after all these years I have trouble forgiving him of his treatment of Diana, although that whole episode begins to seem more mundane the further away it appears in the rear view mirror. And, I have to admit, he seems to be growing into the role, and the latest polling even indicates his popularity among the Brits is also growing, but still 10 points below William’s. And of course, his reign comes in the great shadow of a Queen who turned tact into a superpower, and was beloved by everyone across the globe. That is, indeed, a very tough act to follow.
So, will Charles III be a good king? And what does that really mean? He has certainly demonstrated through his own work to be a genuine friend of the Jews. I thought it was a warm and generous gesture that he invited the chief Rabbi to stay at his home last night so he could walk to the inauguration on Shabbat.
Born in 1948, the king is a bit of a Boomer having come of age when young people still believed they could change the world. He has been known to indulge in New Age weird stuff, like talking to trees, and is deeply committed to a “Naturalist” point of view and combatting climate change. It is said he can be charming at his best and pedantic and self pitying at his worst. Joan Rivers thought he was witty, and he once thought about asking Barbara Streisand on a date! He is the first reigning monarch to graduate from university and learn Welsh and he supposedly plays the cello fairly well. For decades he has been waiting in the wings, lingering hopefully, and now here we are. Time, I think, has grown on him, and he has grown with time.
Shortly before his investiture as Prince of Wales in 1969, a young Charles was interviewed by the BBC. He was asked what all the pomp meant to him, and to reflect on the princely motto, Ich Dien, or “I Serve”. “One can be so cynical about this sort of thing and think well, it’s only a ceremony and some people are against it and perhaps it’s for television, and you know, it’s just a show,” he said. “I’d like to think that it’s something a little bit more than that, that perhaps it’s a symbolizing of Ich Dien, if you like.” Then the boy prince seemed to chastise himself. “All right,” he added. “I’m the only one who thinks that.” Even cynical me is thinking, maybe not.
Meanwhile, the news cycle continues its relentless attack on our senses and sensibility. Here in the good ole Jew S of A, we are learning more about how the Supreme Court really is above the law and how easy it is to buy an opinion, or at least a judge. Like we needed any more reasons to dislike Clarence Thomas. And then of course there is always news about the Orange Turd, a twice impeached, indicted rapist who has a clear lead for his party’s nomination, and Tucker Carlson, who is clearly an insane person leading the right into further moral degradation. Just your normal, run of the mill stuff. And in Israel, Gaza flare ups and protests continue over the proposed legislation to gut the country’s checks and balances of power. And what about other news for the Jews this week you ask? Well, ask and you shall receive. Here once again, is your weekly buffet of news about Jews carefully curated from the likes of JTA, The Forward, Kveller, Times of Israel, and other notable Jewish journals:
- 👑 King Charles decided his coronation on Saturday will include leaders of faiths beyond Christianity. It’s the first British coronation to do so. The U.K.’s chief rabbi and his wife plan to sleep over at Clarence House, a short walk from Buckingham Palace, so they do not have to violate their Shabbat observance to attend. (Washington Post, AP)
- 🎶 A British children’s choir has recorded a new version of “Adon Olam” in honor of Saturday’s coronation of King Charles. The choir includes children who go to five local Jewish schools, and is accompanied by musicians from Ukraine. “Adon Olam,” Hebrew for “sovereign of the universe,” is typically sung at the end of morning prayers. (JTA)
- 🇵🇸 A Palestinian prisoner died Tuesday morning after an 86-day hunger strike.Gaza militants fired three rockets toward southern Israel after news of the death was announced, and Israeli prisons are preparing for riots. (Haaretz)
- Mazel tov Babs! Congrats to Barbra Streisand who is set to receive this year’s Genesis Prize, sometimes called the “Jewish Nobel.” Streisand said she plans on donating the $1 million prize to charity. (JTA)
- 🕍 Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, the new movie based on Judy Blume’s 1970 novel, was filmed on location in Charlotte, North Carolina, including at Temple Israel, a Conservative synagogue. The congregation’s real-life rabbi, Michael Wolk, leads a Shabbat service Margaret attends with her grandmother. (Jewish Insider) Blume is having a moment with the recent release of a documentary about her life and career streaming on Amazon Prime titled “Judy Blume Forever” and a major on-screen adaptation of “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret,” which debuted on Friday to warm reviews. The topics Blume has written about since 1969 have remained relevant: her books still regularly land on banned book lists as states continually debate what young readers should be able to access. Blume’s 29 books, which have sold over 90 million copies and been translated into 39 languages, have been touchstones for women — especially Jewish American women — for multiple generations. Her protagonists deal with a range of teen issues, from bullying to sex to loneliness to menstruation, in a realistic way, but they also grapple with issues of Jewish identity as they come of age, adding an extra layer of relevance for young Jewish readers. You go girl!
- 💍 Christie’s auction house is expected to bring in more than $150 million Wednesday at one of the largest jewelry sales in history. The items come from the family of a German who purchased companies from Jews during the Nazi era, sparking controversy. “We are aware there is a painful history,” said the president of Christie’s. (New York Times)
- May is Jewish American Heritage Month – “For generations,” said President Joe Biden, “the story of the Jewish people — one of resilience, faith, and hope in the face of adversity, prejudice and persecution — has been woven into the fabric of our nation’s story.
Well, that’s all folks. I hope you enjoy the weekend! Maybe have a cuppa in honor of King Charles, or go out and get pissed until you are knackered, but in all cases, let’s be careful out there!