The crowning of King Charles III won’t be watched by Rabbi Nicky Liss. On the Jewish Sabbath, he will spend time doing something more important: praying for the monarch.
He will read a prayer in English and Hebrew to praise the new monarch on Saturday, along with rabbis from all over Britain. The prayer praises the “one God who created us all.”
Liss, the rabbi of Highgate Synagogue in north London, stated that British Jews valued Charles’ commitment to fostering the coexistence of all faiths and his track record of promoting a multifaith community throughout his lengthy apprenticeship as the heir to the throne.
“When he says he wants to be a defender of faiths, that means the world because our history hasn’t always been so simple, and we haven’t always lived freely; we haven’t always been able to practice our religion,” Liss told The Associated Press. But knowing that King Charles behaves and speaks this way is very comforting.
Charles attempts to reduce tensions between the various faiths that make up Britain’s increasingly diverse society at a time when religion is fueling conflicts worldwide, from Hindu nationalists in India to Jewish settlers in the West Bank and fundamentalist Christians in the United States.
The next king’s efforts to demonstrate that the monarchy, a 1,000-year-old institution with Christian roots, can still represent the people of contemporary, multicultural Britain depend on him succeeding in that endeavor.
Charles, the head of the Church of England, must deal with a nation quite different from the one that fervently praised his mother’s coronation in 1953.
More than 80% of the population of England was Christian seventy years ago, and the massive immigration that would change the country’s face was just getting started.
According to the most recent census data, that number has already fallen below 50%, with 37% claiming no religion, 6.5% identifying as Muslim, and 1.7% Hindu.
The transition is much more noticeable in London, where more than 25% of people practice a non-Christian faith.
The progress gained in mending a divide in the Christian tradition that started in 1534 when Henry VIII split from the Catholic Church and proclaimed himself head of the Church of England is also symbolized by Charles’ dedication to a multifaith community.
According to Cardinal Vincent Nichols, England’s most senior Catholic cleric, that break ushered in centuries of hostilities between Catholics and Anglicans that finally subsided during the queen’s reign.
When Charles is crowned on Saturday, Nichols will be in the Abbey.
I have a lot of privileges,” he chuckled. But this will be one of the biggest, in my opinion, to participate in the monarch’s coronation.