OPINION: Chief Rabbi: I’ve witnessed first-hand Queen’s empathy for our trauma

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

OPINION: Chief Rabbi: I’ve witnessed first-hand Queen’s empathy for our trauma

Ephraim Mirvis talks on occasion of her Platinum Jubilee of Her Majesty's ability to bestow honour on others

Chief Rabbi Mirvis
Chief Rabbi Mirvis

In The Ethics of the Fathers (4:1), Ben Zoma asks, “Who is honourable?” He answers, “A person who gives honour to others,” as it states, “For I will honour all who honour me”(1 Samuel 2:30).

Remarkably, this aspiration is the hallmark of the King of Kings Himself.

In the blessing that we recite upon seeing a Monarch, we declare,

“Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the Universe, who has given of His honour to flesh and blood”.

As the recipient of more honour than all human beings combined, the greatness of Hashem is evident through the manner in which He readily bestows honour on others.

This, too, is a key characteristic of Her Majesty the Queen, who is honoured above all in Britain and the Commonwealth. Yet, in truth, her honour is derived from her delight in giving honour to many others.

I can testify to this from the many experiences I have been privileged to have when engaging with the Queen.

She has a natural love for other people and goes out of her way to make everyone relaxed and at ease.

Most significantly, she relates to all whom she meets with natural dignity and respect and makes them all feel important.

After people have had the privilege of meeting the Queen, the question most often posed by their friends and acquaintances is, “What did she say to you?” Without exception, I have only heard reports of lovely, heartfelt comments, questions which reveal a genuine interest in the person to whom she is talking and her charming, cordial tone, showing dignity and respect.

The Queen’s respect for all others finds its natural expression in her relationship with faith groups in the UK and the Commonwealth.

Our Jewish community has been the beneficiary of such genuine interest and respect.

In this spirit, the Queen enthusiastically accepted an invitation to become the Patron of the Council of Christians and Jews and she has always been exceptionally proud to hear how CCJ has been the forerunner of numerous other global interfaith initiatives of much value.

The Queen was honoured to become a patron of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust when it was established in 2005 and has been passionately dedicated to numerous acts of memorial.

At a personal level, I witnessed first-hand her concern for the Jewish people and her empathy for our traumatic past when, in 2015, I accompanied her on a visit she and Prince Philip paid to Bergen Belsen, which was her first visit to a Concentration Camp.

The Queen’s deep interest in and respect for Jews and Judaism was evident when my wife, Valerie and I were privileged to stay overnight at Windsor Castle as guests of Her Majesty and Prince Philip, whereupon we experienced their deep warmth and generosity.

No effort was spared in preparing kosher meals of the highest standard for us.

After dinner, The Queen and Prince Philip led us on a tour of the Royal Library.

They proudly showed us a Czech Sefer Torah scroll, rescued during the Holocaust and brought to the UK for restoration.

It had been gifted to her by the Memorial Scrolls Trust and we spent time discussing the significance of the Torah in Jewish faith and how this particular scroll is a symbol of Jewish survival which is rooted in our loyalty to the timeless values of our Torah tradition.

As we celebrate the historic milestone of Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee, we thank the Almighty for this extraordinary role model, who sets a wonderful example of service, duty, selflessness and, most significantly, of respecting all people with sensitivity and dignity.

She is, most certainly, our most honourable citizen.


Your eyes, your ears, your voice. Your Jewish News

Our community depends on the Jewish News to stand up and speak out for us.

Providing news in print and online, and events for the whole community, Jewish News is a force for good with an impactful presence.

The team at Jewish News is always at the forefront of local and world news, keeping British Jews and our allies up to date with all that matters during good times and bad.

The Jewish News is the trusted mouthpiece of the community: our eyes, our ears, and our voice. Our Jewish News.

That’s why we’re asking for your support.

Together our voice is louder.

Please donate to our match funding campaign

read more: