Queen Elizabeth II and the Jews

Queen Elizabeth II and the Jews

I, like millions around the globe I’m sure, were shocked and saddened to hear that Queen Elizabeth passed away this evening. Many of those millions, like me, have gotten to know the Queen as a human being and wife and mother and monarch through watching “The Crown.” All of us Crown viewers learned that Queen Elizabeth didn’t have an easy life. May she rest in peace.]

A few little-known facts about Queen Elizabeth II OBM and her connection to the Jews by Dr. Yvette Alt Miller (Aish.com)

Her Mother-in-Law Saved Jews During the Holocaust:

The third season of The Crown features a Greek-speaking, tough talking nun. Shockingly, that nun was Queen Elizabeth II’s mother in law, Princess Alice of Battenberg. Even more surprisingly, The Crown never explores Princess Alice’s heroism during the Holocaust, when she saved Jews by sheltering them in her home in Nazi-occupied Athens. It’s an amazing story that ought to be known.

Born in 1885 in Windsor Castle – where Queen Elizabeth II now lives – Princess Alice was Queen Victoria’s great granddaughter. She was deaf – a fact that the royal family hid – and learned to lip read as a child. Historians have speculated that this might have made Princess Alice more sensitive to other people who were different from the mainstream in some way.

When Alice’s brother Edward was crowned King Edward VII in 1902, one of the guests at his coronation was a dashing Greek prince named Andrew. The two fell in love and married. Alice moved to Greece where she had four children: three daughters and a son, Philip (Queen Elizabeth II’s husband). The family was riddled with dysfunction. Alice’s husband became a dissolute playboy and eventually moved away. Her three daughters all became ardent supporters of Hitler and each one married senior Nazis. Only her son Prince Philip resembled her, eschewing Nazism and spending time with Jewish friends and his British relatives.

When World War II broke out, Prince Philip volunteered for the British navy, and battled Nazis with distinction. Princess Alice resisted in more secret ways. Remaining in Athens, she invited the Cohens, a distinguished Greek Jewish family with whom she and her husband had long been friends, to hide in her house. Rachel Cohen, her daughter Tilde, and her son Michel moved in with the princess. The apartment was small and located just yards from Athens’ Gestapo headquartered. Once, Princess Alice was even brought in for questioning, but she refused to divulge the fact that she was sheltering Jews in her home.

After the war, Princess Alice founded an order of nuns. She returned to London in 1967 and died there in 1969. She requested that her remains be interred in Jerusalem, and in 1988 they were buried on Mount Zion in Jerusalem.

Queen Elizabeth II Hired Jewish Mohel to Circumcise Prince Charles:

Queen Elizabeth II hired an Orthodox Jewish mohel to circumcise her son Prince Charles. Rabbi Jacob Snowman (1871-1959) was a London mohel of great renown, and it’s said that the Queen was impressed with Rabbi Snowman’s skill and experience.

The tradition of British royals to ask Jewish mohels to circumcise their sons goes back to King George I, who was born in Hanover, Germany, and reigned over England from 1714-1727. Back in Germany, some aristocratic parents hired Jewish mohels, and George I brought the custom with him to England. Years later his great great granddaughter Queen Victoria hired Jewish mohels to circumcise all of her sons. She is said to have believed that her family tree went directly back to the Biblical King David.

Coincidentally, Queen Elizabeth’s mohel Rabbi Jacob Snowman had another royal connection: his younger brother Emanuel Snowman was chairman of Britain’s renowned Wartski jewelry dynasty, which sold wedding rings both to Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and to Prince William and his wife Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge.

British Jews pray for the Queen every Shabbat:

It’s a Jewish custom around the world to recite a prayer on Shabbat for their government leaders. In Britain, this means praying for the welfare of Queen Elizabeth II and her family. British Jews ask God to “preserve the Queen in life, guard her and deliver her from all sorrow.” The prayer goes on to ask that the Divine “put a spirit of wisdom into her heart and into the hearts of all her counsellors” too.

ath at a memorial to Arab soldiers who died attacking Israel.

She Departed from Royal Protocol to Listen to Holocaust Survivors:

While Queen Elizabeth II seems notably cool towards the Jewish state, when it comes to Britain’s Jews recent years have found her conciliatory. The royal family has shown a particular interest in the welfare of Holocaust survivors of late.

On January 27, 2005, the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, Queen Elizabeth hosted a group of Holocaust survivors in St. James’s Palace in the center of London. Notably punctual, on this occasion the Queen threw protocol to the wind. As she mingled with the survivors, one of her aides informed her that it was time to wrap up the event.

Instead, the Queen continued to talk, to listen, and to reassure. Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks was present and later recounted: “When the time came for her to leave, she stayed. And stayed. One of her attendants said that he had never known her to linger so long after her scheduled departure. She gave each survivor – it was a large group – her focused, unhurried attention. She stood with each until they had finished telling their personal story.

“It was an act of kindness that almost had me in tears. One after another, the survivors came to me in a kind of trance, saying: ‘Sixty years ago I did not know if I would be alive tomorrow, and here I am today talking to the Queen.’ It brought a kind of blessed closure into deeply lacerated lives.”

In January 2022, Prince Charles commissioned a royal series of portraits of Holocaust survivors. “As the number of Holocaust survivors sadly but inevitably declines,” he explained, “my abiding hope is that this special collection will act as a further guiding light.” The portraits are to be displayed in Buckingham Palace, Queen Elizabeth II’s official home.

Leave a Reply

Follow by Email