JTA, Sept. 9, 2022
“British Jews are feeling the loss of this remarkable monarch as much as their gentile counterparts.”
The death 0f Queen Elizabeth II after 70 years on the throne is a devastating loss for Britain, the Commonwealth and the free world. It is hard to overstate the sense of grief that will be felt at her passing, including from within the Anglo-Jewish community.
I was brought up in a typical liberal Jewish family that showed a healthy respect for the queen, and the royal family more widely. I recall marching down the Mall in London for the 60th anniversary of VE Day and catching a sight of our monarch on the steps of Buckingham Palace. Like other British Jews, I also remember hearing the prayer for the royal family which was, and is, a feature of every Shabbat service.
For Anglo-Jewry, the queen was a rock and mainstay of her nation, a constant, familiar and reassuring presence amid the turbulence of both domestic and international crises. Indeed, she became such a fixture in British life that she created the illusion that she would always carry on as head of state. Of course, no one is immortal. But the queen etched herself so deeply into her country’s story that she became emblematic of its very character, the unspoken essence of modern Britain. She was truly the matriarch of the nation.
The queen was unlike political heads of state. She was not a polarizing figure because, being unelected, she was in no way beholden to vested interests or parties. Instead, she united her nation by becoming a symbol of its most enduring and cherished values. What she brought to her role was an old-fashioned sense of duty and loyalty, reflecting the vow that she made in 1947 to live a life of service, no matter how long or short it lasted. Her values were those of an older Britain, a nation framed by a Christian ethos in which self mattered less than duty and obligation trumped personal ambition. … SOURCE