By Rabbi Bentzi Sudak – Jewish Chronicle
It has been estimated this week that 31 per cent of Brits met or saw Queen Elizabeth II during her 70-year reign, and since her death on Thursday, many have been sharing memories of times they or their families met Her Majesty.
One such person is Rabbi Bentzi Sudak, who shared a moving post on social media yesterday describing how Buckingham Palace made changes to royal protocol to ensure that his father – a Charedi Jew – could receive an honour without violating Jewish tradition.
Rabbi Nachman Sudak received an OBE from the late Queen in 2001, recognising his lifetime of achievement on behalf of both Jews and non-Jews.
Rabbi Sudak, who passed away in 2014, spread Jewish awareness and spearheaded the growth of Chabad in Britain since 1959 as head of Lubavitch UK.
His son, Rabbi Bentzi Sudak, shared his memory of that day, writing how Buckingham Palace ensured ahead of time that the protocols of taking one’s hat off indoors and shaking the monarch’s hand were adapted to respect Jewish law.
Sudak wrote: “Those with a keen eye will notice some changes in protocol, for example how the Queen did not end the meeting with a handshake.”
By Jewish religious tradition, men and women generally do not make any physical contact with one another, aside from one’s spouse or immediate relatives, to respect the sanctity between genders.
Sudak continued: “The protocol also called for men to remove any headdress indoors, yet there he was adorned in a Chassidic hat. The palace had discussed all this with him beforehand.
“You could say he “stuck out”, yet the Queen was aware of these traditional Jewish practices and made sure that her team made accommodations for them before the event.
“The way they saw it was that this is a man who is staying true to himself and his core identity, and they wanted to respect that. Not only did his commitment to Jewish tradition not hinder his standing, but the Queen also recognised its beauty when she publicly awarded him.”
“Sometimes our own Jewish inner confidence may need a boost, but when you are clear about who you are and what you stand for and are proud of your uniqueness, people admire it.”
On seeing the video of the investiture after so many years, Rabbi Bentzi Sudak – who flew in specially from the USA for the event – wrote that it was “very emotional” recalling that day.
He closed his reflection with a quote from the late Rabbi Lord Sacks, who said: “Non-Jews are proud of Jews who are proud of their Judaism…”