Last week, Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her 90th birthday. Even though some of the celebrations marking this milestone will not take place until June, it may be of interest to take a look at Her Majesty’s relationship with the Jews.
In keeping with a tradition begun by King George I, Queen Elizabeth had her sons circumcised by Rabbi Dr. Jacob Snowman M.D.  While Rabbi Snowman does not go around London with a royal coat of arms on his bris kit, no one would fault him if he regarded himself as the Royal Mohel. In fact, a good many might even be quite amused at the moniker.
It ought to be noted that members of the Royal family often can be seen in attendance at Jewish events; it ought to also be noted that members of the Royal family support any number of Jewish causes and charities. Equally as significant is the fact that such involvement and support for Jewish causes raises no eyebrows, because it is seen as being totally normal in British society.
It’s one thing to attend Jewish events; it’s quite another to mingle with the people. While I cannot vouch for Queen Elizabeth, there are any number of stories that have come down involving Prince Phillip. Rabbi Morris Unterman of the renowned Marble Arch Synagogue of London was once at a Jewish function standing beside Prince Phillip. In an effort to engage in small talk, Prince Phillip asked the rabbi where he lived. “Over the shop,” answered the rabbi. “Oh! Just like us,” remarked Prince Phillip. Is it possible that Prince Phillip is the one with a sense of humor, when it comes to the royal couple? Perhaps. Is it possible that Prince Phillip attends such functions by himself, while his wife stays home? Highly unlikely!
Most of us don’t follow the royal family, which is understandable. As such, scant attention was paid by us back in December 1992, when Princess Anne married naval officer Timothy Laurence (Levy). Her Majesty’s son-in- law is of Jewish descent; His paternal grandfather was a Jew. Apparently Queen Elizabeth, head of the Church of England paid scant attention to her son-in-law’s lineage.
Last July, I wrote an article about the visit paid by Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip to Bergen-Belsen. Unlike other heads of state, the royal couple visited the former Nazi Concentration Camp out a sense of honor and dignity. There was absolutely no hint whatsoever that the visit was a publicity stunt on their part. Queen Elizabeth took the time to tour the camp and to meet with some veterans of the British army who helped liberate Bergen- Belsen in April 1945.
More than a few Jews have criticized Queen Elizabeth for never having visited Israel, despite repeated invitations by various Israeli Prime Ministers. Before leveling such criticism, one must bear in mind that the Queen never expresses her political views in public, much less visits countries, where the slightest nuance on her part will undoubtedly be misinterpreted, so that it can make front page headlines. Equally as important, it’s questionable that the rocky relationship between the Hagannah, Irgun and Lehi (Stern Gang) of pre state Israel towards the British who were given the mandate to control the country has ever been put to rest. Perhaps most important of all, Queen Elizabeth’s detractors would be well advised to look at the vast number of British Jews who have yet to visit Israel before calling Her Majesty on the red carpet. In the spirit of our tradition, let us wish Queen Elizabeth 120 years. She just might make it.