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UK chief rabbi to spend coronation eve with King Charles to avoid breaking Shabbat

Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis will sleep at Clarence House on Friday evening before walking less than one mile to Westminster Abbey to attend coronation ceremony

Illustrative: Britain's then-prince Charles and Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis visit the 1736 Suriname reconstructed Tzedek ve-Shalom Synagogue at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem on January 23, 2020. (Menahem Kahana/Pool Photo via AP)
Illustrative: Britain's then-prince Charles and Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis visit the 1736 Suriname reconstructed Tzedek ve-Shalom Synagogue at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem on January 23, 2020. (Menahem Kahana/Pool Photo via AP)

Britain’s chief rabbi will stay overnight at the residence of King Charles III the night before the monarch’s coronation in London, to allow the rabbi to attend without violating Shabbat.

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and his wife, Valerie, are scheduled to attend the coronation in London on Saturday, May 6, 2023, in a ceremony that will also see the Queen Consort, Camilla, crowned.

But with the ceremony being held on the Sabbath, Mirvis is unable to drive or travel by car to the location according to Jewish law. Instead, the chief rabbi and his wife will spend the night at Clarence House, the residence of King Charles and Camilla.

According to the UK-based Jewish Chronicle, Mirvis will spend Friday evening celebrating Shabbat with local Jewish communities, before retiring to Clarence House for the night, which is less than a mile from Westminster Abbey, where the coronation is set to take place.

By attending the ceremony, even on a Saturday, the chief rabbi is continuing a 120-year-old tradition set by former chief rabbi Hermann Adler, who attended the coronation of King Edward VII in 1902, an event that also took place on Shabbat.

On that occasion 12 decades ago, Adler attended synagogue prayers at the local Western Synagogue, before he was escorted by police in his rabbinic robes to Westminster Abbey.

Clarence House, London. (Wikipedia)

“Unfortunate to relate, while he was away in the [Westminster] Abbey his traveling case was stolen from the home of his host, as well as a pair of silver Sabbath candle sticks — a sad reward for his loyalty!” a historian for the synagogue wrote.

UK chief rabbi Israel Brodic attended the coronation ceremony of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, which was held on a Tuesday.

Following the death of Queen Elizabeth last month, Buckingham Palace moved the start time of a multifaith event commemorating her death forward to allow Mirvis to attend the event and still return to his North London home in time for Shabbat.

In response, the chief rabbi’s Twitter account said: “in a deeply moving gesture, Buckingham Palace brought the event forward to enable him to attend before Shabbat.”

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