Thu 22 Sep 2022 07:00

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JLGB joins community tributes to Patron, His Majesty King Charles III

 

Click to read our President, The Lord Levy's tribute to Her Majesty The Queen, as published in the Jewish Chronicle, here

 

The Measure of a Man who would be King

Neil Martin OBE, JLGB Chief Executive

Whilst we knew the sad but inevitable day would eventually come, the loss of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has hit us all perhaps more profoundly than we might have imagined. With 94% of the world’s population only ever knowing her as our Monarch, it is perhaps therefore no surprise that for so many of us, she was akin to a grandmother figure and it feels like the loss of a cherished family member who has been with us throughout our lives.

But perhaps more so today, with so much uncertainty in the world, in an extraordinary time of upheaval, and with society still grappling with the impacts of a global pandemic, she also gave us a sense of stability and hope across the generations, whenever we needed it.

Great Britain therefore looks with understandable nervousness and anticipation to our new Monarch, His Majesty King Charles III, for some sure-footing and the steadying hand of reassurance to guide us through this next unsettling period in history… yet, for those of us that have been privileged to have met the new King in our communal roles, and to have benefitted from his wisdom or action, we already know that we will be in very safe hands indeed.

However, for British Jews there is additional angst that has clouded our community in recent years, as the backdrop of uncertainty has been further compounded and turned to unease with an increased fear of growing antisemitism, where for the first time in generations, many have questioned their safety and security as British Jews.

In December 2019, in the midst of this difficult period, the then Prince of Wales invited 400 people to Buckingham Palace for a Chanukah reception to celebrate the UK Jewish community’s contribution to British life, where he said: “The connection between the Crown and our Jewish Community is something special and precious. I am thinking not just of the most prominent members of our Jewish community but, crucially, of those who are not household names, but who are the cornerstones of their own local communities.

His message was received loud and clear, and provided much needed comfort and reassurance. Later in the reception conversation naturally sparked reminiscences of the halcyon days of Anglo-Jewry, where I heard someone say: “It’s a shame we’ve already peaked as a community, it’s not like it used to be”, to which I replied, ever the cockeyed optimist, “but what if our best is yet to come?”

It was this that prompted JLGB to enquire if HRH might consider giving his patronage to mark our 125th Anniversary. Like so many British-Jewish institutions, JLGB (founded in 1895) has so much to be proud of, but what comes next? What do our children and grandchildren have to look forward to, if some have already written them off?

It is perhaps because of this determination and enthusiasm to be defined by the next best thing we do, rather than our past accolades, that JLGB is having a renaissance and, I think, perhaps more the reason why our new King agreed to our patronage request, than anything else.

It wasn’t a cold ask of course, he had certainly seen us in action and been impressed. In 2017, in a whirlwind moment of my life, I found myself unexpectedly being involved directly with three events with King Charles in the very same week. The first event was at Buckingham Palace with the Youth United Foundation, which he created and is the umbrella body for national uniformed youth groups. There, he presented awards to JLGB groups, our band played and he spoke with each delegation, where he actually said to me: “I hear I’m seeing you tomorrow too!”

The next day for the second encounter, he visited Yavneh College to see how faith communities give back to society through youth social action both inside and outside the classroom.  There, we demonstrated JLGB’s age-progressive framework of national volunteering awards and a brilliant display of skill-based activities, led brilliantly by our young JLGB leaders, focussed on British citizenship and Jewish identity and where he was elated to hear than JLGB had been running his father’s award, the DofE, for the Jewish community since it began 60+ years ago.

“You’ll be sick of seeing me soon!”, he said, which confirmed it would be him investing me with my OBE back at Buckingham Palace on the Friday, where he said as he pinned the medal on me: “I was so pleased to see it all, what amazing work you do, to hear the bands and what a remarkable school Yavneh is and with so many doing awards and volunteering opportunities that you provide, it really is truly marvellous.”

Through these and many interactions JLGB has been proud to have with King Charles in recent years, through the Youth United Foundation, the Step Up To Serve campaign and many Jewish community events, it is clear he is passionate about the future, and especially the potential of young people.

I have seen first-hand that he shares in our determination to help the next generation of British Jews thrive, building upon their proud heritage and community legacy, but with a renewed energy and enthusiasm for an ever-changing modern world, fully equipped and excited to give service back to their local community, wider society and to make the world a better and more sustainable place for all.

To take on our cause when he did, to be excited about what young British Jews will do next for our society, and not just what has gone before, well… that is the true reassurance we needed, that is true stability and hope for the future, and that, I believe, is the true measure of the man to whom we now loudly declare “G-d Save the King!”

 

 

About JLGB

The JLGB strives to help develop a society that values Jewish young people and their contributions to their local and wider communities. JLGB aims to make every effort to train, develop and support Jewish young people through their transition from young person to adult to become active citizens in society. JLGB offers essential life skills and experiences to help young Jewish people transition from empowered youth to engaged young adult. JLGB believe in young people not only as leaders of tomorrow, but as a powerful force for positive change in society today. By removing faith barriers to participation in a fun, flexible yet safe, structured environment, JLGB ensures and enables each Jewish person to reach their future potential. 

To find out more about your local JLGB, call 020 8989 8990, email hello@jlgb.org or find @JLGBHQ on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

For 125 years, young Jewish people have been discovering just how brilliant they can be and how they can make the world a better place through JLGB. Whether you're 8 or 18, whatever you want to be, join in and be your best self with us! 

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