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HRH Prince of Wales Officially Opens the Jewish Museum

His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales officially opened the Jewish Museum London on 14 December 2010. HRH The Prince of Wales became a Patron of the Jewish Museum in 2008, his first patronage of a Jewish community organisation with a remit in the United Kingdom, reflecting his interest in building interfaith dialogue and understanding.

Year 6 pupils from Richard Cobden School in Camden greeted HRH The Prince of Wales at the Museum with a traditional Jewish welcome song called Shalom Chaverim, which means welcome/peace friend.

HRH toured the Museum with experts including Simon Schama and Simon Sebag Montefiore providing insight on the exhibits.

Speaking at the opening HRH The Prince of Wales said: “Having come here three years ago with my wife, it’s been a great joy to return to see what you’ve managed to do. It is a wonderful way of discovering just what an enormous contribution the Jewish community has made to this country right back to 1066 and the fact that the contribution is still made in such a remarkable effective and constructive way is something that deserves enormous celebration as well as immense gratitude.”

Highlights included:

• British historian Simon Schama showed HRH a display of the Jewish Naturalization Act of 1753 which allowed foreign Jews to become naturalized by application to Parliament. The bill was passed and received the royal assent by King George II. However, the bill remained in force for only a few months and was repealed in 1754.

• Acclaimed author Simon Sebag Montefiore pointed out a petition honouring his great-great uncle, Sir Moses Montefiore who travelled to Damascus, Syria to plea the case of several Jews accused in a blood libel case and secured their release without charge.

• Poignant personal items of Auschwitz survivor Leon Greenman OBE who HRH met in 2006 prior to his death. In the Holocaust Gallery which tells Greenman’s story, HRH met holocaust survivors Mrs Vera Schaufed and Mrs Mala Tribich.

• Displays about Lionel de Rothschild, the first Jewish Member of Parliament. He won an election to be an MP in 1847 but stood four more times before he could take his seat in 1857 due to the requirement to take a Christian oath. Lionel’s great grandson Leopold de Rothschild talked to the Prince about this.

During the tour HRH also viewed some exhibits from the Museum’s current temporary exhibition ‘Morocco: Photographs by Elias Harrus and Pauline Prior’ which reveals the almost forgotten Jewish community of southern Morocco. Exhibits included a traditional bridal outfit, known as el-keswa el-kbira worn by urban Jewish women and a photograph of the tomb of Rabbi Shlomo Ben Hench, who was revered by both the Muslim and Jewish communities in the Ourika Valley. HRH met representatives from Morocco including the Ambassador, Her Excellency H.H. Princess Lalla Joumala Alaoui.

Monday 28th March, 2011

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