Prince William denounces surge in antisemitism during synagogue visit

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Prince William denounces surge in antisemitism during synagogue visit

Royal is clearly moved by his talks with young people and with Holocaust survivor Renee Salt at Western Marble Arch

Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist

Prince William with 94-year-old Holocaust survivor Renee Salt at the Western Marble Arch Synagogue
Prince William with 94-year-old Holocaust survivor Renee Salt at the Western Marble Arch Synagogue

In a poignant encounter towards the end of his historic visit to Western Marble Arch Synagogue on Thursday, the Prince of Wales clasped hands with 94-year-old Holocaust survivor Renee Salt as she asked him to convey her best wishes to his wife Catherine, who is recovering from abdominal surgery. He immediately agreed.

The warmth of the meeting was echoed throughout Prince William’s hour-long visit. It was originally planned to coincide with Holocaust Memorial Day and the princess was also due to attend. But with the rise in antisemitism following the 7 October terror attacks in Israel, it was decided to expand the content of the visit so that William could take part in conversations about the recent rise in antisemitism in the UK, and some of the invaluable work that is being carried out to combat this.

William was escorted around the synagogue by its rabbi, Daniel Epstein, and his wife Ilana, together with the chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, Karen Pollock.

A clearly impressed prince was shown some of the Judaica treasures of the synagogue’s Hartog Gallery, which displays 12 beautiful stained glass windows designed by artist David Hillman, who is the uncle of Israel’s President Isaac Herzog.

But the focus of the visit was a remarkable encounter with a group of young people, Jewish and non-Jewish, who spoke frankly to the prince about antisemitism and the Holocaust.

The Jewish students included UJS president Edward Isaacs, who told Prince William about the difficulties facing Jewish students on various campuses. And four of the HET’s young ambassadors, guided by their programme director Kirsty Fraser, shared their commitment to spreading the word about the Holocaust.

“How do we keep the story of the Holocaust alive, as the last survivors drift off?” asked the prince. Pollock responded: “I think if you ask the survivors, in their eighties and nineties, they are determined still to share their testimony in schools. They want people to know, to tell their families, to tell their children and grandchildren. But we are at a crucial juncture, where living history will become just history, and so it will become even more important for our young people to carry that legacy.”

Given the events of 7 October, all present were conscious that — as Pollock said — “Holocaust education isn’t just about the murders of six million men, women and children. The nature of antisemitism did not go away, and it has emerged in different guises”.

When UJS president Edward Isaacs told Prince William about “the explosion of antisemitism” on British campuses after the 7 October attacks, the prince was plainly appalled. One teenager, who had previously considered universities solely on basis of courses offered, said that she now had to worry about where antisemitism was more prevalent.

Another student recounted the story of two friends who were walking to synagogue, both wearing kippot. A car drew up to them and the occupants asked if they were Jewish. When they said yes, those in the car shouted abuse and then turned the car round as though to drive into them. “It’s just constant, never-ending,” she said.

As a long-time advocate for mental health, the prince was keen to learn how physical and verbal attacks made the students feel. “It has created a climate of fear like we’ve never experienced before,” conceded Isaacs, but added that UJS was doing its best to “see that Jewish students remain resilient”. He told the prince about the support programmes for Jewish students, and also about the antisemitism awareness programmes for “campus allies”.

The HET ambassadors have all taken part in the Lessons from Auschwitz programme and Prince William agreed that “you can’t help but be moved by what you see there”. He concluded his conversation by declaring: “You heard it from me: antisemitism has absolutely no place in this country,” adding that he and the Princess of Wales were extremely concerned about its rise.

Earlier, the royal household had made it clear that “it was very important to the prince that he hears directly from those who have been impacted by the rise of hatred and antisemitism”.

Then it was time for the prince to talk to Renee Salt, described by the royal household as “[one of] the living examples of the tragic consequences of antisemitism being allowed to go unchecked”. Though the conversation took place in the cavernous main synagogue, there was a sense of closeness and intimacy as the prince reassured Mrs Salt, an Auschwitz and Belsen survivor, “Don’t be nervous.”

She told him a little of her experiences and her ultimate liberation when she was just 15 and Prince William was plainly moved by what he heard. She told him that she had finally incorporated her life story in a book due to be published next year, and Prince William immediately said he would look forward to receiving a copy.

Commenting after the visit, Pollock said: “Today His Royal Highness reminded us that antisemitism is not only a problem for the Jewish community, but for all society. He listened to young Jewish students, who are facing a deluge of antisemitic hate on campus, share their personal experiences of this anti-Jewish hate, and he met young Holocaust Educational Trust ambassadors, who are campaigning against antisemitism despite not being Jewish themselves.

“He spent time with Holocaust survivor Renee Salt BEM. When she was liberated nearly 80 years ago, she never could have imagined that once again, within her lifetime, there would be a global explosion of antisemitism.

“His Royal Highness’ visit sends a powerful message that Britain is a country where Jews, whether Holocaust survivors who came to find sanctuary or young Jewish students – are welcome and celebrated. He reminds us that even in the darkest days, the Jewish community is not alone.

“We thank His Royal Highness for his leadership on this issue and we are so grateful for his unwavering support for our cause and our community.”

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: