Olga Senderskaya performing Hatikvah at a celebration of Israel's 70th birthday in London.
(photo credit: BLAKE EZRA PHOTOGRAPHY)
LONDON – Taking place within a week of his son Prince Harry’s marriage to Meghan Markle, His Royal Highness Charles, the Prince of Wales, attended a lively concert on Thursday night that saw over 2,400 members of the British Jewish community raise a toast to Israel’s 70th birthday in London’s renowned Royal Albert Hall.
Hosted by the Jewish Leadership Council, United Jewish Israel Appeal, and Israel Bonds, the event was attended by a range of politicians and dignitaries, including British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, Ambassador to the UK Mark Regev, UK Ambassador to Israel David Quarrey, and the chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, Natan Sharansky.
Introducing the night, Louise Jacobs, the chairwoman of the United Jewish Israel Appeal, said: “As someone who’s visited Israel [at least] once or twice, I honestly remain astonished at the vibrancy and originality of its artistic community,” before introducing British MP and senior cabinet minister David Lidington.
Lidington paid tribute to the British Jewish community as “one of the most dynamic and vibrant communities that make up the diverse mix that is our modern United Kingdom,” and celebrated Israel as “a thriving democracy and a prosperous economy where the values of freedom, tolerance and the rule of law lie at its heart.”
The night, titled “Platinum – Celebrating Israel at 70,” began with a dance routine performed by non-professional dancers ranging in age from eight to 80. This was followed by the arrival of Princes Charles, which was marked by the audience rising to its feet to sing the national anthems of Great Britain and Israel with help from Israeli soprano Olga Senderskya.
With British celebrity lawyer and television personality Robert Rinder emceeing, the audience were treated to an array of artistic talent from Israel, including performances by the Gilad Ephrat Ensemble, a dance routine by the Vertigo Dance Company accompanied by the Revolution Orchestra, and a star-studded climax performed by Balkan Beat Box featuring trio A-Wa and singers Gili Yalo and Shai Tsabari.
Reflecting on the night, Jonathan Goldstein, the chairman of the Jewish Leadership Council, said: “We were thrilled that His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales was part of this vibrant, joyful and spectacular celebration of Israel 70th anniversary. The music and the atmosphere will live long in the memory.”
Sam Sheldon, an undergraduate student who had spent his gap year in Israel studying at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and working on placement for Magen David Adom, attended the event alongside his parents and sister. Sheldon said he had been inspired to come because of his time spent in Israel, which made him feel “part of the nation.”
Jane Ufman, another attendee, told The Jerusalem Post
she “felt it was very important that I was here to support [Israel].”
Paying tribute to Prince Charles, ambassador Regev referenced the impending visit to Israel of Charles’s son Prince William, Duke of Cambridge – the first ever official visit by a British royal in Israel’s history. The ambassador joked: “You know, we Jews haven’t had royalty of our own since Biblical times, so we are naturally incredibly excited about the visit of the Duke of Cambridge.”
Prince William set to visit Israel on June 25, 2018
Further details regarding Prince William’s visit to the Middle East were revealed on Friday. His five day trip will begin in Jordan on June 24, and include visits to Ramallah, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
Commenting on the news, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “We welcome the announcement of Prince William’s visit to Israel... This is a historic visit, the first of its kind, and he will be welcomed here with great affection.”