Who Are You Calling a “Shluh”?!

In modern-day Israel, the word "shluh" is sometimes used as an offensive term to describe a person of disheveled or messy appearance. The word in fact hails from Morocco, where it referred negatively to a certain ethnic group, and was used disparagingly by city dwellers to describe uncultured village folk...

Members of a local tribe in the Atlas Mountains, 1955. Source: Tropenmuseum

The idea for this article originated several years ago when I asked my grandmother how many languages ​​she spoke. The exact number was hard to pin down since she spoke several Arabic dialects, along with French and Spanish, but I was interested in one in particular—Shluhit in Hebrew, or Shilha in English—or as it was originally called, Tashelhit. Grandmother Ladisia told me that she had learned it in order to communicate with her mother-in-law who only spoke Shilha. The name of the language immediately brought to mind the derogatory word shluh, used in Israel to describe someone of disheveled or messy appearance.

In a previous article, we dealt with the insulting and false characterization applied to residents of the city of Chelm in Poland. In this article we will delve into the story of the Shilha people, and the origins of the offensive term shluh. The word was originally imported from Morocco, where it was often used to malign an entire community, in similar fashion to what happened to the people of Chelm in Poland and also the Ḥourani in Syria.

Jews from the Atlas Mountain region in the early 20th century, Jewish Encyclopedia

Shilha or Tashelhit is just one of several Berber languages spoken in Morocco. The Shilha people (Shluhim in Hebrew), a Berber subgroup, live in the southwest of Morocco, where they are scattered across approximately one thousand villages that are connected through trade relations. This area also had the largest number of Jews in Morocco living in proximity to the Berbers.

The earliest record of Jews and Berbers living in proximity in Morocco dates back to the 3rd century CE, but according to the Jewish oral tradition of southern Morocco, Jews arrived in the area as early as the First Temple period, some 3000 years ago. This tradition apparently is an attempt to dispel the theory that the region’s Jews are descended from Berbers who converted to Judaism sometime in the first centuries of the Common Era. The region’s Jews instead see themselves as descendants of King David’s soldiers, who pursued the Philistines as far as North Africa, according to the local tradition, under the command of David’s general Yoav (Joab) ben Zeruiah.

As a result of the geographical proximity, the Jews and the Shilha developed informal yet close relations. It is thus no coincidence that the local Jews learned to speak Tashelhit. To this day, the Jews who lived in these communities can remember many of the proverbs, songs and customs of their Berber neighbors. The vast majority of these Jews would end up immigrating to Israel in the great immigration wave of the early 1950s, before Morocco gained its independence.

The mostly rural Shilha made a living from agriculture. The Jews, on the other hand, were considered dhimmi according to Islamic Sharia law, meaning a protected class that was barred from owning land. Therefore Jews primarily worked as merchants who would travel in small groups from their village to the surrounding areas, selling their wares and offering services. Some also financed the small farming initiatives of their Berber neighbors by buying them seeds. At harvest time, the Jewish investors were entitled to three quarters of the agricultural yield.

For over forty years, Prof. Joseph (Yossi) Chetrit conducted countless interviews with Moroccan Jews and their Berber neighbors. In an article on the simultaneously intimate yet distant relationship between the two communities, he writes that even after many decades, the Jews’ Shilha neighbors remember dozens of Hebrew expressions, such as prutim (money) and the beverage known as Mahia – a Jewish-Moroccan brandy. During the long period when they lived in proximity to each other, the Jews were commemorated as shrewd merchants in a number of Berber sayings, such as: “Jews in the market are like salt in the dough”.

An outdoor market in Morocco, the Bitmuna Collection

 

A female member of the Shilha, from southern Morocco. Source: Collectie Stichting Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen

But the Jews and their Shilha neighbors shared more than just economic relations. The Berbers visited the same Jewish gravesites the Jews flocked to during traditional hilulah celebrations commemorating the passing of Jewish holy figures. Jewish healers frequently received their Shilha neighbors who were not afraid to make use of their mystical charms, amulets and potions.

The Jews and Shilha also shared common customs and would dance and sing together at public ceremonies. While the Jews of the region avoided taking part in Berber customs related to the Muslim faith, both groups were well acquainted with each other’s calendars. Besides greeting their Jewish neighbors with the words “happy holiday” (hag sameah) or “easy fast” (tsom kal), the multitude of holidays and festivals created many economic opportunities. Before the Sabbath and ahead of Jewish holidays, the Shilha would sell agricultural products to Jews as well as the reeds needed to build the sukkah, while the Jewish women marketed their seamstress skills to their Muslim neighbors as they prepared for their own festivals.

Cooperation between Jews and Muslims was especially noticeable in the days leading up to the Mimouna celebration. During the Passover holiday, Jews would bring offerings to their Muslim acquaintances; including matzoh, pies, and sometimes a meat stew, and in return, the Muslims brought the Jews milk, butter, honey, eggs and flour, the ingredients necessary for the preparation of the Mimouna delicacies.

Photograph of a young Jewish woman from the Atlas Mountain region on the cover of the newspaper L’Avenir Illustré, with the headline: “Our Research of the Malaḥim,” March 19, 1931. Click here to read the article

So how did a group as diverse and productive as the Shilha come to be associated with a disparaging epithet meaning a disheveled person who cannot be trusted? This offensive term that referred to rural Muslims and Jews alike was brought to Israel by immigrants from Morocco.

In 1931, the French-language Jewish newspaper L’Avenir Illustré (“The Illustrated Future”) published an article by Charles Abehsera of the city of Rabat in its Jeune Israel (“Young Israel”) section. Abehsera wrote about the rural Jewish migrants flooding his city, referring to one of them as a “shluh.” In the article, Abehsera described the individual as an old Jewish man making a living from handouts and tourists who paid him a small sum to take his picture. Another thing that bothered Abehsera was the fact that this “shluh” accepted alms on Shabbat, in violation of Jewish religious law.

Abehsera, a young representative of the Western Moroccan Jews, distanced himself from the “shluh”, whom he viewed as a dirty and undesirable individual who spoke neither Arabic nor French, but only the Berber language. The “Young Israel” section of L’Avenir Illustré was read by the Jewish youth in Morocco who typically received a French education in the Jewish Alliance schools. These young boys and girls spoke French and identified with European Western values more than with traditional Moroccan values​.

Abehsera certainly did not invent the term “shluh,” but he used it to differentiate himself and his community from the newcomers who were moving into the city from the rural areas. Incidentally, the word “Berber” also stems from a pejorative term. The Berbers call themselves “Amaziye’im” (“Imaziye’in” meaning “freemen”). However, the word Berber derives from the ancient Greek word Barbaros (βάρβαρος), which the Greeks used to refer to anyone who did not speak Greek.

 

“The Tourists in the Mellah of Rabat,” click on the image to read the article

Regardless of the young Abehsera’s views and the desire of many of Morocco’s urban Jews to differentiate themselves from the Berber-speaking Jews, it is important to understand that until the Jews left Morocco, half of the country’s population (Muslim and Jewish) spoke Berber as a first or second language. After Morocco’s independence and the introduction of a state education system, this number dropped to about 30 percent. Most of the Berber-speaking Jews spoke the Tashelhit dialect, and for some (for example the people of Tifnit in the Souss Valley region) Tashelhit was their mother tongue at least until the French occupation. The French protectorate’s road-building efforts connected the villages to the larger cities, which led to the migration of rural populations to urban centers. The slanderous label was an outcome of the city folk’s encounter with the villagers.

The complex relationship between the Jews and their Shilha neighbors is an important part of the story of Moroccan immigration to Israel, just as it is part of Morocco’s history. The two groups not only lived side by side in the same villages for perhaps thousands of years, but also shared beliefs and customs, such as veneration of local saints, folk medicine and a whole repertoire of Berber song, dance, folk tales and sayings. Therefore, the dismissal of Shilha culture and the disdain towards it — which began already in Morocco — serve to undermine a significant element of North African Jewish culture.

Despite the complex and delicate relations that existed between the neighboring populations, the Jews and Berbers have come to embrace their common past. The Jews’ departure from Morocco severely impacted the Berber and Shilha rural economy for years. Before the establishment of formal relations between Israel and Morocco, nostalgia for these bygone relations led to the idealization of Jewish life in the villages and towns in Morocco in the past. Today, with travel to Morocco now possible, Israelis of Moroccan origin can see for themselves the living conditions in the villages and renew the ties forged over the generations between their ancestors and the Amaziye’in.

 

Thanks to Prof. Joseph (Yossi) Chetrit and Dr. David Guedj for their help in preparing this article.

 

Further Reading:

Joseph Yossi Chetrit, Intimacy, Cooperation and Ambivalence: Social, Economic and Cultural Interaction between Jews and Berbers in Morocco, European Judaism, Volume 52, No. 2, 2019: pp. 18-30

Joseph Yossi Chetrit, “Judeo-Berber in Morocco” in: Languages in Jewish Communities, Past and Present, Edited by Benjamin Hary & Sarah Bunin Benor (De Gruyter, 2018)

David Guedj, “‘Jeune Israel’: Multiple Modernities of Jewish Childhood and Youth in Morocco in the First Half of the Twentieth Century”, Jewish Quarterly Review, Volume 112, Number 2, 2022, pp. 316-343

דוד גדג’, דיוקנאות, ארץ־ישראל והקהילות היהודיות במרוקו: המסרים החזותיים בעיתון

L’Avenir Illustré

 מרכז יד בן-צבי

 

The Daring Life and Tragic Death of Tunisia’s Jewish Pop Sensation

Habiba Msika reveled in the pleasures of free love in 1920s Tunis. A rejected paramour ultimately took her life

Habiba Msika, ca. 1920 (Public domain / Colorization and enhancement: MyHeritage)

Tunisian singer and actor Habiba Msika was a legendary figure in Tunis’s 1920s art scene. Msika’s bold nonconformity and tragic fate resonated deeply with her contemporaries, and fascinate me now: I marvel at how she subverted the patriarchy of her time, though violence born of that very misogyny would one day kill her.

The El-Grana marketplace in Tunia, ca. 1900 (Publisher: Lévy & Fils). From The Joseph and Margit Hoffman Judaica Postcard Collection, part of the National Library of Israel Digital Collection

Born in 1899 or 1900 to a family of musicians living in Tunis’s hara (or Jewish quarter), Msika began her musical training at a young age. She was instructed by her aunt, Leila Sfez, who had herself been a diva and cabaret owner. Under Sfez’s tutelage, Msika learned classical Andalusian music (Maalouf) and oud. But it was as a cabaret singer, dancer, and actor that she would become something like the Madonna of her time.

A rebellious soul, Msika crossed boundaries in all that she did: she insisted on playing male roles in her theatrical career (sensing they’d give more range to her talent), and is said to have been the first singer in the country to mix dance and song, a practice that electrified her performances. Despite furious attacks from the conservative press, she sang dozens of songs reveling in the pleasures of free love. The song “Ala Srir Ennoum,” which translates to “In My Bed,” is one of them.

The forthright Msika also aligned herself with the emerging Tunisian nationalist movement. She became the main artistic collaborator of the theater director Mohamed Bourguiba, whose brother Habib Bourguiba would become the first president of independent Tunisia in 1957. With Mohamed Bourguiba, Msika adapted classic European plays into Arabic, and developed original theater productions infused with revolutionary sentiment. In one infamous performance of Les Martyrs de la Liberté, Msika appeared onstage wrapped in a Tunisian flag, crying “Vive la liberté!” The French police stormed the second performance, arrested the cast, and censored the play.

Msika in costume, ca. 1930 (Public domain)

Offstage, Msika’s life was just as dramatic. She was often referred to as “l’aimée de tous”, or “Habibat al-Kul” — a play on her first name that translates to “beloved by all”It’s said that she counted princes of Egypt, Iraq, and Tunisia among her lovers. And she presided over a devoted fan club, a group of male admirers called the Asker Ellil (Soldiers of the Night), who sometimes provided her with financial support. Even so, she amassed a personal fortune through her performances, and was able to achieve financial independence.

Tragically, it was from the Asker Ellil that Msika’s murderer emerged. A much older man named Eliyahu Mimouni became obsessed with her and vowed he’d make her his wife. For five years, he tried to woo her with endless gifts, including a villa she refused to set foot in. Finally, after Msika announced that she would marry her long-time partner Raoul Merle, the enraged Mimouni entered her home one night and burned her to death.

She was thirty years old.

This new rendition of “Ala Srir Ennoum” was recently performed in homage to Habiba Msika’s free and defiant spirit:

 

A version of this article was originally published by Ayin Press, an artist-run publishing platform, production studio, and research collective rooted in Jewish culture and emanating outward. It was part of Ya Ghorbati: Divas in Exile, a multimedia folio created by Laura Elkeslassy, which takes readers on a musical journey across North Africa to rediscover Judeo-Arab divas from the early twentieth century through the 1960s.

In Ya Ghorbati, singer Laura Elkeslassy musically excavates her family’s history in Morocco, France, and Israel, coming face-to-face with forgotten ancestors and reclaiming a lost family name. Developed in collaboration with music director Ira Khonen Temple, this project weaves together the stories of Judeo-Arab divas from the last century with original recordings and new performances of folk and sacred music. Ya Ghorbati looks across time and space to tell a tale of political upheaval, exile, and displacement—ultimately questioning the supposed binary of Arab and Jew. The project was made possible by the Greater New York Arts Development Fund of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, administered by the Brooklyn Arts Council; Rise Up; and the New Jewish Culture Fellowship.

An adapted version of the article appears here as part of Gesher L’Europa, the National Library of Israel’s initiative to connect with people, institutions and communities across Europe and beyond, through storytelling, knowledge sharing and community engagement.

 

Further Reading:
Bessis, Sophie. Les valeureuses. Tunis: Éditions Elyzad, 2017.

Silver, Christopher. The Life and Death of North Africa’s First Superstar, History Today, 2018.

 

 

When Topol Fled From ‘Fiddler’… Twice

Chaim Topol was originally disgusted by 'Fiddler on the Roof'. Soon after changing his mind, war in Israel took him off the stage...

Israeli poster for the 'Fiddler on the Roof' feature film, starring Chaim Topol. From the National Library of Israel Ephemera Collection

Chaim Topol recalled that the first time he ever saw Fiddler on the Roof, “I nearly fled from the theatre with my hands to my ears.”

It wasn’t a two-bit off-Broadway version of Fiddler Topol had seen, either. He was in New York not long after the show opened and saw the original Tevye, Zero Mostel, in action. Though Topol remembered feeling that he was “in the presence of a genius” when he saw Mostel’s Tevye on a different occasion, that first show was an “off-day” for Mostel in Topol’s opinion. The veteran American actor had cracked inappropriate jokes off the cuff, turning Anatevka into “the shtetl Madison Avenue style,” according to Topol, who described it in his autobiography as:

“…reek[ing] both of the old golah (diaspora) as represented by the Russian Pale of Settlement, and the new one, as represented by New York: it seemed to reflect some of the worst features of both…”

His overall feeling regarding the show at the time? “Ugh!”

He also didn’t think it would work in Israel where, he assumed, the sensitivities and propensities were more in line with his. It wasn’t until seeing veteran Russian-born Israeli actor Shmuel Rodensky in the role of Tevye (known as “Tuvia” in Hebrew) that Topol was moved by the story and reconsidered a previous request he had rejected to take on the role in the Tel Aviv production of Fiddler.

Shmuel Rodensky as Tevye, 1967 (Photo: Dan Hadani). The Dan Hadani Collection, The Pritzker Family National Photography Collection at the National Library of Israel

Rodensky’s portrayal was more authentic and less comical, and when the older actor could no longer do all of the weekly shows, Topol – then in his late 20s – assumed the role.

Not long after, Topol was called to audition for the role of Tevye in the London production of the show. He had memorized the songs and much of the choreography for the audition, but his English was very poor.

Israeli ad for the original Fiddler on the Roof album, which Topol used to learn the show’s songs. From the Yossi Alfi Archive at the Israeli Center for the Documentation of the Performing Arts, accessible online as part of a collaborative initiative between The Ministry of Jerusalem and Heritage, the National Library of Israel and the University of Haifa

“I didn’t speak English and had a vocabulary of about fifty words – most of them swear words; but I managed to get by and I was told at the end of the day that the part was mine,” he later recalled.

After months of practice and private English tutoring, Fiddler on the Roof, starring 31 year-old Chaim Topol as Tevye the Milkman, opened at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London on February 16, 1967.

A man of many faces: Chaim Topol in 1967, the year Fiddler opened in London. From the Chaim Topol Archive, accessible online by courtesy of the family and as part of a collaborative initiative between The Ministry of Jerusalem and Heritage, the National Library of Israel and the University of Haifa
Bearded for his role as Yevye in London, this photo was taken of Chaim Topol on a return visit to Israel in late 1967 (Photo: IPPA Staff). The Dan Hadani Collection, The Pritzker Family National Photography Collection at the National Library of Israel

Just about three months into the successful run, tensions began to build in the Middle East and war increasingly seemed imminent. Every night after his performance, Topol would rush to his dressing room to listen to the news.

His contract had specified that he would not work on Rosh Hashana or Yom Kippur, yet there was no “war clause”. After hearing the news that war had in fact finally erupted, Topol nonetheless told the show’s producer that he needed to take leave, and he “fled” to Israel.

Topol of course didn’t know that the war would only last six days. After reporting for duty in Tel Aviv and then finding himself in Jerusalem following its reunification and then in the Golan Heights, he promptly went back to being Tevye at Her Majesty’s Theatre, after only being absent for about a week. Following the war, Topol recalled how Israelis “suddenly began to think of themselves and speak of themselves as Jews,” while Jews abroad took pride in the war’s miraculous results.

Celebratory Israeli Air Force flyover, July 1967 (Photo: Dan Hadani / Colorization: MyHeritage). The Dan Hadani Collection, The Pritzker Family National Photography Collection at the National Library of Israel

“Jews who had seen Fiddler once came back to see it a second and third time, and some of the performances in June and July 1967 took on the character of a victory celebration,” he recounted.

A few years later, when preparations were being made to create a film version of Fiddler on the Roof, Chaim Topol was cast as Tevye, beating out legendary stars including Walter Matthau, Danny Kaye, Richard Burton and even Frank Sinatra.

According to the film’s director, Norman Jewison, Topol possessed “that don’t-mess-with-me pride that the Tevye of my imagination had”.

“Chaim Topol was made for this part. Not only is he a fine actor, but there was a strain of dignity. It was the Israeli in him, the pride of being Jewish that really struck me. When he said, ‘Get off my land,’ you could see him stiffen up and stand as tall as he could. There was a strength that epitomized the hope that these people would somehow create a country of their own.”

 

This article has been published as part of Gesher L’Europa, the National Library of Israel’s initiative to connect with people, institutions and communities across Europe and beyond, through storytelling, knowledge sharing and community engagement.

Celebrating English Royalty at Synagogue

Though England's royal coronations are traditionally held at Westminster Abbey, over the years the Jews of the British Empire have celebrated the ascensions of new monarchs in their synagogues, with special prayers tailored for the occasion…

This year (2022) the United Kingdom and much of the world is celebrating Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee, marking her 70th year on the royal throne. Though she became Queen in 1952, her official coronation was held more than a year later, to allow the nation to mourn the death of her father, King George VI, as well as to allow time to prepare a magnificent ceremony.

To mark the momentous jubilee, the UK’s Chief Rabbi composed a special prayer for the occasion.

This, however, was certainly not the first time the Jews of England have prayed for the well-being of their respective kings and queens. Ahead of royal coronations held over the years, special prayers were prepared for Jewish congregations and read in synagogues across the British Empire. These prayers and rituals were published by the Chief Rabbinate as well as other Jewish organizations. Many of the resulting prayer books are preserved today in the collections of the National Library of Israel.

The obligation to pray for the safety and well-being of kings is rooted in a verse from the Mishnah – Pirkei Avot, 3:2:

Rabbi Chanina, the deputy Cohen Gadol, says “Pray for the welfare of the government, because if people did not fear it, a person would swallow their fellow alive.”

(The above translation is taken from here)

The hope conveyed in the words above is that a proper and effective monarchy, meaning one that is not preoccupied with wars and infighting, is more likely to invest its resources and time in good governance, legislation and public order, for the benefit of its subjects, including Jews.

To this day, in Jewish congregations in Britain and the Commonwealth countries, a prayer for the blessing and health of the Queen and the Royal Family is recited before the Musaf Shabbat prayer.

Queen Elizabeth II is England’s longest serving monarch. The previous record holder was her grandfather’s grandmother – Queen Victoria.

Victoria’s coronation was held in 1838, a year after she acceded to the throne. 50 years on, the Chief Rabbinate and the kingdom’s Sephardic community published prayers giving thanks for the protection afforded to the Queen “during a long and prosperous reign”.

From a prayer book published by the British Sephardic community to mark Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee celebrating 50 years on the throne

 

An Ashkenazi prayer book marking Victoria’s Golden Jubilee

A decade later, Queen Victoria celebrated her 60th year on the throne. Prayers were renewed and even the Jews of Jerusalem published a Hebrew song of prayer, citing “the children of Israel who dwell in Zion and who appreciate your feelings and take part in your joy and in the happiness of your peoples”.

A Hebrew song of prayer celebrating Queen Victoria’s 60th year on the throne, printed in Jerusalem

Victoria’s son and heir, Edward VII, was crowned along with his wife Queen Alexandra in 1902. Once again, in England, Australia and other countries, prayer books containing psalms, hymns such as Adon Olam, special prayers for the protection of the new king and queen as well a general prayer for the safety of the Royal Family were printed. One of the books included the last-minute addition of a thanksgiving prayer in Hebrew on its final page, noting that “the sword hath been put into the scabbard, and the covenant of peace and brotherhood hath been established”.

The coronation was held about a month after the conclusion of the Second Boer War in South Africa. The Chief Rabbinate felt it was fitting to address the issue during the coronation celebrations.

“the sword hath been put into the scabbard, and the covenant of peace and brotherhood hath been established..” – A prayer prepared for the occasion of Edward VII’s coronation, shortly after the conclusion of the Second Boer War, 1902

A Hebrew “Ode on the Coronation of His Most Gracious Majesty Edward VII” was also composed and translated into English and Yiddish. The author, Joseph Massel, had immigrated to Britain from Russia in 1895. He settled in Manchester, where he worked in printing and translation while writing poetry as well. A passionate Zionist, he took part in the Zionist congresses and even hosted Chaim Weizmann in his home.

Ode on the Coronation of His Most Gracious Majesty Edward VII

The next coronation was that of King George V, alongside his wife Queen Mary in 1911. Aside from the more common prayers printed in London, here we have examples of prayers published in distant parts of the British Empire, such as the cities of Bombay and Calcutta in India.

A brief prayer published by the “Gate of Mercy” Synagogue in Bombay
A prayer published in Calcutta, India (today Kolkata). Note that George V is referred to here as “King-Emperor”, as among his other titles he was also considered “Emperor of India”

George V was eventually followed by his son King George VI and his wife Queen Elizabeth in 1937 (Edward VIII was George V’s immediate successor but abdicated before his coronation could be held). Yitzhak Ben Zvi and Rachel Yanait represented the Jewish Yishuv of Mandatory Palestine at the ceremony.

Yitzhak and Rachel Yanait Ben Zvi at the coronation of George VI, Nadav Mann, Bitmuna. From the collection of Benzion Israeli. Collection source: Aharon Israeli, the Pritzker Family National Photography Collection, the National Library of Israel

In this case as well, a variety of brief prayer books were printed. One of these hailed from Tianjin (Tientsin) in northern China, where a community of some 2000 Jews, mostly refugees from Russia, had settled.

This was the first appearance of Elizabeth II in the coronation prayers, though here she was still a princess. Elizabeth was 11 years old when her parents were crowned, and the prayers made reference to her as well. She also appeared alongside her sister Margaret in official photos of the event.

The coronation prayers of 1937 mention Princess Elizabeth

In the Land of Israel, a “Grand Coronation Ball” was organized to celebrate the event. According to the official programme, primarily filled with advertisements, the ball featured three orchestras, and participants were able to enjoy dances, catering and a fireworks display.

The programme of the “Grand Coronation Ball”, 1937

With the passing of George VI in 1952, Elizabeth II was made Queen. Her mother, also named Elizabeth, now became “The Queen Mother”. The official prayer published by the Chief Rabbinate for the 1953 coronation ceremony features a minor, understandable, mistake. The booklet was printed while Elizabeth’s grandmother, Queen Mary, was still alive and her name appears among those of the other Royal Family members. Mary passed away little more than two months before the official coronation and there was no time to reprint the booklets.

Elizabeth II’s coronation prayer mentions the late Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, as well as her son, Prince Charles, Duke of Cornwall

That same year, the Jewish National Fund planted a forest near the town of Nazareth in honor of the Queen with funds donated from around the world. To mark this occasion, an elegant book was produced, featuring a poem dedicated to Queen Elizabeth II, as well as an article on the subject of the Royal Family and the Jewish people and another article on the topic of forestation and agriculture in the Holy Land. The book also included several photographs of yet another forest planted in honor of George V in 1935.

From a book titled The Queen Elizabeth Coronation Forest, celebrating the trees planted in her honor by the Jewish National Fund

To mark Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee, celebrating 25 years on the throne, a special prayer service was held at the central synagogue of the United Synagogue organization, with the Chief Rabbi in attendance along with other dignitaries. After the Rabbi’s sermon, the Holy Ark was opened and the cantor recited:

Five and twenty years have passed since our Gracious Queen ascended the throne. In common with our fellow citizens we pray humbly that Her Majesty will be granted many more years of fruitful and felicitous reign that will continue to shed lustre and glory upon our Sovereign and her people.

Our Father Who art in Heaven,

Bestow Thy bountiful blessings upon Her Majesty the Queen and Prince Philip, upon the Queen Mother and the Prince of Wales. Wonderful in their splendor, may they be richly blessed together with all the Royal Family. Prolong their years in health, well-being and strength…

In this year of joyful remebrance and exultation we are filled with the deepest sentiments of loyalty, esteem and gratitude. We pray for the peace and prosperity of Great Britain, for the security and salvation of Israel and for the redemption of mankind under the sovereignty of God.

May our prayers and supplications find speedy and abiding fulfillment. 

Amen.

 

And with that, all that is left is to wish Her Majesty health and happiness.

God save the Queen.