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Jewish Community marks coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla with celebratory service rooted in history

Photos by Johnny Bugeja.

The Jewish Community in Gibraltar this week marked the coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla with a celebratory service at the Shaar Hashamayim Synagogue on Engineer Lane.

The service was conducted by cantors from the four synagogues and included a special prayer for the King and Queen compiled by the Chief Rabbi of the Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth.

The congregation sang too Gibraltar’s unique Hebrew version of the National Anthem, which dates back over 100 years and was composed by the Community’s then Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Raphael H.M. Benaim (1845-1920) in honour of the Coronation of King George V in June 1911.

Among those gathered were distinguished guests, including the Governor, Vice Admiral Sir David Steel, Education, Heritage and Environment Minister Dr John Cortes representing the Chief Minister, and the Mayor, Christian Santos.

The roots of the coronation service held on Wednesday stretch back 263 years to 1760 in London, when seven deputies were appointed by the elders of the Sephardi congregation of Spanish and Portuguese Jews to form a standing committee and pay homage to George Ill on his accession to the throne.

The practice was later emulated by the Ashkenazi Jews and thereafter this became prevalent upon the accession of a new monarch.

Both groups eventually united to become today's Board of Deputies of British Jews.

When King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra were crowned in 1902, the Chief Rabbi of the Commonwealth was invited to attend the coronation service at Westminster Abbey. The then Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Herman Adler, was the first rabbi ever to attend a coronation in Westminster Abbey on a Shabbat.

Since then, the custom evolved to hold a service of "thanksgiving and supplication" in synagogues throughout the United Kingdom and the Empire.

Archive records indicate Gibraltar followed suit.

In 1911, for the coronation of King George V and Queen Mary, the order of service was designed by The Office of The Chief Rabbi in London, and Gibraltar followed the same.

It was for that occasion that the Hebrew version of the anthem was composed.

Again in 1937, the service held in Gibraltar for King George VI and Queen Elizabeth followed the same order of service as that of the Office of the Chief Rabbi.

The Jewish Community of Gibraltar compiled its own format for the Order of Service for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in May 1953.

Some of older members of the Community still remember attending the service.

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