Around 400 people gathered at Buckingham Palace last night for a pre-Chanukah reception organised by The Prince of Wales to celebrate the UK’s Jewish community’s contribution to all areas of British life.
The guests were invited from organisations around the country with the focus on those who, through their community work and volunteering efforts, make a huge contribution to their communities.
His Royal Highness, a longstanding supporter of minority communities, paid his own tribute in his speech, saying: “The connection between the Crown and our Jewish Community is something special and precious. I say this from a particular and personal perspective because I have grown up being deeply touched by the fact that British synagogues have, for centuries, remembered my Family in your weekly prayers. And as you remember my Family, so we too remember and celebrate you. I am thinking not just of the most prominent members of our Jewish community who, through the ages, have literally transformed this country for the better. I am thinking also, crucially, of those who are not household names, but who are the cornerstones of their own local communities. They are the people who, I am delighted to say, make up the larger part of this evening’s guest list and to whom I want to offer particular gratitude.”
The Prince of Wales spoke of his own links to the Jewish community – through hosting receptions for the Kindertransport Association, or for Holocaust survivors, and attending events for the National Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, of which he is Patron, adding “If I may say so, Ladies and Gentlemen, I see this as the least I can do to try to repay, in some small way, the immense blessings the Jewish people have brought to this land and, indeed, to humanity.”
Dennis Coppel, the President of the tiny Northern Ireland Jewish community, who flew over especially for the reception, said: “I’ve never been to Buckingham Palace before and this was very exciting. I enjoyed the Prince’s words. He always speaks so warmly.”
Nava Kestenbaum, who was representing the Interlink Foundation, said she had spent time this week telling the children she teaches at an East London school about The Prince of Wales. “I wanted them to know how much we value his work. We have our Prayer to the Royal Family and they have certainly returned that appreciation with interest this evening.
Nathan Boroda, a student at Warwick University who is a Union of Jewish Students’ representative on the Board of Deputies, said: “This is a once in a lifetime event. Prince Charles is such a wonderful advocate for the Jewish community. We’re an outsider community and it’s so gratifying to be honoured in the way.”