Lord Levy remembers Her Majesty the Queen15 Sep 2022
By Lord Michael Levy
As first seen in The Jewish Chronicle here
As a young child growing up in Hackney, I never imagined having the privilege of meeting Her Majesty even once, let alone on the numerous occasions on which we did meet. Much has been said and written about the changes in society during the last 70 years and how the diversity of our nation has been embraced by the Royal Family. This has also been palpably felt by our community with its many vibrant institutions and organisations.
As a Jewish community we have, for 70 years, stood in Shuls every Shabbat and prayed for the Royal family, asking the Almighty to bless our Sovereign Lady Queen Elizabeth. Among our wishes, have been the desire for our Monarch to deal kindly and justly with all the House of Israel and how blessed we have been to live in the era of the now late Queen Elizabeth II.
The day after we learned of her passing, the BBC called one of the many charities it has been my privilege to lead, Jewish Care, to ask to interview a Holocaust Survivor, Ivor Perl, a resident of Selig Court on our Maurice & Vivienne Wohl Campus. That, in itself, was very touching as were his words of a deep love and affection for Her Majesty.
Reflecting now on her incredible life and viewing afresh her many addresses to the nation over the years, I have been struck by that much repeated theme of her duty to serve. It is a calling which resonates for so many who especially work in the voluntary sector in the Jewish community and beyond.
While serving as the Personal Envoy of Prime Minster Blair and having the honour of meeting so many Heads of State I was consistently touched by the high regard in which Her Majesty was held.
At an occasion on which I had the privilege of being seated next to Her Majesty not only was her extraodinary knowledge of international affairs striking but so too her impressive grasp of the challenges facing those of us who were committed to bringing about peaceful solutions to complex conflicts. Her personal anecdotes on a number of the Heads of State that she had met with were both fascinating and, on some, quite hilarious.
Queen Elizabeth II truly understood that there are differences between peoples, but that there is much more that unites us. That sense of harmony, which has served this nation well during some difficult times, most certainly radiated through every interaction with her. On one such occasion I had the privilege, as President of Volunteering Matters (formerly CSV), of introducing Her Majesty to volunteers, young and old, from across the UK, at St James’s Palace. Her presence thrilled them, she took an interest in every single person present and spent time speaking with each of them.
Our own community was afforded the same respect throughout the Queen’s reign and when having the honour and privilege of attending a number of State Banquets there was always a willingness to enable our observance of Kashrut.
King Charles III will continue in the wonderful footsteps of his dear mother Queen Elizabeth II. His Majesty has on many occasions shown his commitment to our community and enjoyed a very special relationship and friendship with the late Lord Sacks.
As recently as 2020 JLGB, of which I am President, invited him to become their Patron and we are honoured that he agreed. As a member of his Advisory Board for the ‘Step up to Serve’ campaign it was obvious that his commitment and determination to help so many in our society was very real.
In recent years Prince William, now Prince of Wales, honoured Jewish Care with his presence at the organisation’s 25th anniversary dinner.
Queen Consort, Camilla, visited both Jewish Care’s Holocaust Survivor’s Centre and Brenner Jewish Community Centre in Tower Hamlets. She left a wonderful memory for all those present of her dancing to the music of Hava Nagila with a number of members of the Centre.
Finally, may the late Queen Elizabeth II’s memory be a blessing for us all.