Queen Elizabeth II was the flagship bearer for our precious values

Rabbi Avraham Sugarman

Chair of Pinter Trust


(This article was published in the Jewish News on 16/09/2022)

Back in 1947, marking her 21st birthday, the young heir to the throne pledged her life to the service of her nation. Her moving words – spoken well before many of us were born – are now familiar.

‘I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of
our great imperial family to which we all belong.’

There was nothing rote about that pledge of a 21-year-old.  This was not the trite reading of an oath, or a form of words.  It
was heartfelt.  She embraced the destiny that she was born into, that of serving her nation.  

A mere 4 years after making her pledge, at age 25, she was called to step up and make good her promise of service.  And she did not waver from that vow for the 70 years that she was blessed to rule.

There is a Jewish concept of hisbatlus.  This is best translated as self-abnegation.  It means the laying aside of self for other, higher purposes.  It is the way that a mother lays herself aside for her child, and a soldier follows orders and offers his life for his country.

Self-abnegation is not a particularly lauded concept today.  Setting oneself aside – one’s opinions, needs, desires – is not much promoted.  On the contrary, it is rather disparaged.  Modernity values the individual, and promotes self-actualisation and autonomy. 

Hisbatlus on the other hand is a deeply Jewish concept.  To negate one’s impulses and to dedicate oneself to a higher purpose is the most sacred and highest trait.

Our late Queen was beloved by the nation for 70 years of uninterrupted service.  If she ever had an internal struggle with her duty, and momentarily longed to abandon her public service and follow desires of her own, we will never know of it. 

As the bereaved nation contemplates what we have lost, we are witness to an outpouring of deep appreciation for the selflessness and steadfastness that were her hallmarks for all these years.

There is another great Jewish concept, mesorah, best translated as tradition.  Mesorah are the customs and practices handed down from generation to generation, reminding us and binding us to our past.  

The Queen embodied centuries of the rich history and tradition of our nation.  For this she had a place deep within us, and drew on reservoirs of love and loyalty across the country.  And in the grieving for her loss lies a national affirmation of how precious our shared heritage is to us.   

The Queen offered a protective umbrella, appreciation, and affection towards her Jewish subjects.  While faith in modern Britain has been in steady decline, the Queen was devout in her belief and practice. For us, people of faith, we have lost our greatest ambassador.  

After 96 years, including 70 years as our Monarch, the widely loved Queen Elizabeth II has passed on.  Our great nation will move forward under our new monarch, King Charles III, who has already pledged to follow in his mother’s footsteps of unwavering service to our country and who has spoken about the strength of his faith.

These characteristics of a Head of State are not to be taken for granted and we feel hugely blessed to have lived under Queen
Elizabeth II.  We now look forward to the reign of Charles III who we have no doubt will preciously guard the values of service,
tradition and faith.  

We pledge to you our loyalty and pray for your welfare.

Long live the King.

Rabbi Avraham Pinter, unforgettable Charedi Community Leader pictured with the Queen 2006