Jewish Communities in Commonwealth Welcome King Charles III
by Bruria Efune – chabad.org
Amidst a resplendent display of British pomp and national pride, King Charles III ascended to the throne of England on Shabbat, and Jewish communities throughout the Commonwealth celebrated the coronation with special prayers for his welfare during Shabbat services, followed by expressions of goodwill for the new king.
“It’s a remarkable time for the Jewish people,” said Rabbi Bentzi Sudak, executive director of Chabad-Lubavitch of the U.K. Speaking to his congregation in Hampstead on Shabbat, Sudak told them that “we need to stop and focus on how blessed we are.”
“It’s easy to get so distracted and feel so pulled down by antisemitism that we don’t enjoy the unprecedented special times that we have,” Sudak told Chabad.org. “This coronation is a great time to be reminded of how fortunate we are—we have a king who is going out of his way to accommodate and welcome the Jewish people.”
Sudak noted how Charles hosted Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis in his own home so that he could attend the coronation on Shabbat, and had the microphones turned off when the rabbi spoke. “If you think about some of the previous coronations in England, like the coronation of Richard the Lionhearted in 1189 where mobs murdered 30 Jews, they were catastrophic for the Jewish people.”
An Invitation to Jewish Community Leaders
In Birmingham, Rabbi Yossi and Rachel Jacobs of Chabad-Lubavitch of the Midlands reflected on their personal interactions with the new king, and his thoughtfulness towards the Jewish population. The Jacobses, who had previously been invited to Buckingham Palace to a royal garden party in honor of Queen Elizabeth’s Jubilee, were invited to come again on Wednesday before the king’s coronation.
At the garden party, King Charles told the rabbi that the timing on Shabbat “was the wrong day of the week.” The rabbi responded by assuring the monarch that he and his congregation would be praying for him at their 166-year-old synagogue, known informally as the Singers Hill Shul, the Midlands’ oldest and largest congregation.
As promised, a large congregation attended services on Shabbat, and recited a special prayer in the king’s honor. The synagogue was also decorated specially for the occasion, and hosted a “Coronation kiddush.”
“King Charles was actually the first royal to ever attend the installation of a chief rabbi,” Rachel Jacobs remarked. “He was in attendance when Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks inducted Chief Rabbi Mirvis. He was also the first royal to visit Israel and is now showing strong support for the Jewish community, and we all feel and appreciate it.” Following Rabbi Sacks’s passing, Charles eulogized him as “a close friend and personal advisor for many years.”
At the garden party, the Jacobses blessed the new king, “We wish him the strength to rule over the country with wisdom, and with the royal stature with which his mother set a splendid example, as a defender of all faiths. And that he have the energy and stamina and the wisdom to be able to inspire a country at large, which requires tremendous leadership.”
Sudak added a blessing that God give him a successful reign of good health, and peace of mind. “And may his reign be known as a prosperous, peaceful time for the world, for England, for the country, for the Jewish people, and for his family.”
Congratulations From Canberra to the Caribbean
In Melbourne, Rabbi Shmuel Feldman remarked that the Australian Jewish community feels the same warmth to the new king and appreciates his efforts to protect minority communities like their own. On Shabbat, he led his congregation in the special prayer for the new king, composed by the Chief Rabbinate of the U.K.
“We prayed that the Almighty King of Kings gives King Charles a lot of success in doing the good work that he has done over the years in serving the Commonwealth and that he may continue to do so for many years to come, in good health and success and happiness.”
In the Cayman Islands, a British Overseas territory in the Western Caribbean, the locals feel a special relationship after King Charles and Queen Camilla paid a visit in 2019.
The Chabad Cayman Jewish Community Center, led by Rabbi Berel and Rikal Pewzner, held a special Shabbat service alongside a lucky bar mitzvah boy, with a packed crowd.
“We recited special prayers in honor of the Coronation of King Charles III,” Pewzner told Chabad.org. “We pray that King Charles’ reign be lengthy and prosperous, and may Hashem guide him to continue to seek the betterment of our world, bringing us closer to the era of Moshiach.”
Reflecting on the event, with all the royal pomp and ceremony, Rachel Jacobs hopes that people are inspired to find their own inner royalty and ability to inspire and uplift those around them.
“We all have a spark of royalty inside of us, and can rule over ourselves in a way that we pull others up and encourage everyone to stand tall and make a better world.”