The prince, the Jews, and the gift of caring
Once upon a time (in fact just last month) there was a prince of a little island kingdom (about 94 million square miles). He ruled (really he’s second in line to the throne, and it’s a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary government) justly, wisely, and magnanimously. He was loved and respected by all (well, almost all) his subjects. He in turn loved and respected all his subjects. In his just, wise, and magnanimous heart he had a special place for the kingdom’s Jews — and they for him and his family. In fact on every Shabbat and on the festivals, the Jews would pray for and bless the prince’s grandmother, the queen, as well as all the royal family.
The prince had learned a little about the kingdom’s Jews from his parents. They had attended charity events held by institutions in the Jewish community. They must have communicated their admiration for this special community to the prince for he seemed to know and understand the ways of the Jews.
One day the prince, like his parents before him, attended a Jewish charity event. He was asked to speak, and this is what he said: “During a year when many in the Jewish community have had cause to feel under threat, for no reason other than simply the fact of your Jewishness, your unity is all the more precious. Your commitment and loyalty to one another and to society more widely is ultimately what keeps you strong.”
He added that the kingdom’s Jews deserve “particular praise” for caring for one another and for their generosity throughout history.
“This common thread through history — of caring for one another and generosity of time and money — is something that many sectors of [our] society can be rightly proud of. But you in this room deserve particular praise. The results of your commitment to one another within the Jewish community are obvious — the real and loving care that thousands of elderly and vulnerable people receive, among the many works that you carry out,” he said.
What a remarkable prince. Although he is not Jewish he recognized that our unity is precious and worthy of praise. The prince understood that particularity is not a barrier to universal caring and progress but rather a means toward that end. He knew that areivut (Jewish mutual responsibility) does not preclude helping others. Rather, our caring for our own provides an example to others…and we can aid those in need outside our Jewish community as well.
The prince is known throughout the land as the duke of Cambridge, although you might know him better as Prince William, son of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana. He offered these words at the 25th anniversary dinner of Jewish Care, the largest provider of health and social care services for the Jewish community in the United Kingdom.
The words of the prince resonated among the Jews of his kingdom and among Jews everywhere. And the Jews were proud and increased their efforts to be loyal to each other, to seek unity, to care for one another and for others.
The moral of the story: When we Jews care for each other, the world takes notice of our light to the nations. Areivut inspires — learn about it, teach it.
May we and the prince live happily ever after.