Praying for the welfare of the state is an incredibly old Jewish custom

Prince Philip and the Queen in Regent's Park in 1997

Prince Philip and the Queen in Regent's Park in 1997 - Credit: PA Images

The nation is in mourning on the passing of HRH Duke of Edinburgh - and his passing has reverberated through all walks of life, from faith community life to that of sport.

Each week in our community, at Muswell Hill Synagogue, as well as many synagogues, we say a prayer for the royal family. Praying for the welfare of the state is an incredibly old Jewish custom.

I remember once on a trip to Poland, I found some old Jewish prayer books in a synagogue in Lodz. Opening up to the prayer for the state, I could see a prayer for Tzar Nicholas II and his family.

The rule of Tzar Nicholas 2nd was a turbulent time for Jewish communities in the Russian Empire who were blamed by violent loyalist mobs for instance for the onset of the liberal revolution of 1905.

Rabbi David Mason. Picture: Muswell Hill Synagogue

Rabbi David Mason has launched EcoSynagogue - Credit: Muswell Hill Synagogue

But nevertheless, praying for the monarch was still then and is now a Jewish value and can be sourced from a verse in the Book of Jeremiah, one of the Biblical prophets. There we read: "Seek the peace of the city in which I have carried you in exile. Pray to the Lord for it – for in its peace, you will find peace."

So, there is a non-altruistic element here, I suppose.

For a community that does not have a historic place, that is considered a minority, a successful and peaceful country is always important. When chaos prevails, minorities often suffer, and the Jewish people have experienced that first hand, and often.

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But there is also a more essential, altruistic value here of idealism, and simply wanting a better society where suffering is relieved.

It is at a time like this, the loss of a senior member of the royal family, an individual who gave so much service to the country and left such an incredible legacy, that we can pull together within our country. Not to lose who we are, but to give thanks for living in a state that encourages expression; and to mourn together as a nation.

  • David Mason is rabbi at Muswell Hill Synagogue.

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