British Jews have joined their countrymen in paying tribute to Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, who died on Friday at 99.
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis praised the prince for his “exceptional service to the nation” and noted his “interaction with, and affection for, the Jewish community in the UK and his connection with Israel, where his mother is buried and which he visited in 1994.”
United Synagogue president Michael Goldstein said the duke had been “a constant for generations of United Synagogue members and their families, the wider Jewish community and the nation at large,” adding, “His attendance with the queen at an event to mark our 100th anniversary in 1970 is remembered fondly.”
He continued, “As Jews, we are commanded to leave the world a better place than how we found it. Prince Philip’s record of championing good causes and supporting many charities means he has certainly done that.”
Rabbi Alexander Goldberg said on BBC Radio Surrey and Sussex, “The prince’s own family have a special place in the hearts of British Jews. His mother Princess Alice hid a Jewish family in Athens during the war and is regarded as one of the righteous amongst the nations.
“I was lucky enough to meet the prince on several occasions. Most were meet-and-greet affairs where there was always laughter. The one time we spoke really seriously was when I was sitting alone with him in a yurt in London. We started to talk about faith and the environment. In truth, it became an interfaith dialogue… No audience, no script. His feelings were heartfelt.”
Mancunian Herzl Hamburger told The Jewish Press that in 1972 his late father, Sir Sidney Hamburger, oversaw the move of the Manchester Jewish Homes for the Aged from an inner city site to its current moorland site and invited the prince to open the new Heathlands. In 1995, when Herzl was Heathlands president, Prince Philip returned to open the care home’s new wing, Eventhall House.
“He was so easy to talk to,” Hamburger said. “I took him round Eventhall House and introduced him to all the residents and the people involved. I quipped to him as we went round: ‘We have a Jewish custom that if you go somewhere three times, we give you a bed!’
“There wasn’t a dull moment. Everybody got on with him.”
Haircuts Are Now… Permitted?
Covid lockdown restrictions were eased on Monday, Rosh Chodesh Iyar. Hairdressers and barbers may now re-open, but many Orthodox Jews have just started refraining from having their hair cut due to the restrictions of the Omer period.
Steve Bowker, co-owner of Geoff and Steve barbers in a predominantly Jewish area of Manchester, told The Jewish Press, “The timing is awkward. There is not much we can do about it. We have been closed for four months. Anything is better than nothing.”
A Manchester charedi barber told The Jewish Press that he would not open until Lag B’Omer, April 30.
Meanwhile, Salford mayoral candidate Councillor Rabbi Arnold Saunders has claimed to be the first person in the UK to have a haircut following the easing of restrictions – at 12:05 a.m. on Monday when his Jewish barber Mordy Jacobs specially opened his salon for him.