The Jewish community of the UK is preparing for the coronation of King Charles III with a new Jewish song as well as a prayer.
The coronation will take place this coming Saturday and a number of Jewish initiatives have been arranged for the occasion. The United Synagogue Schools Coronation Choir has recorded a brand-new adaptation of the hymn ‘Adon Olam’ composed by Stephen Levey and arranged by Mendy and Israel Portnoy, known as the Portnoy Brothers.
Some 200 elementary school children from five Jewish schools in the UK came together to record the new composition. In a beautiful collaboration, a musical ensemble based in Ukraine participated and provided the strings and orchestration.
What is the religious and cultural significance of the song?
‘Adon Olam’, which means ‘Lord of the Universe’, has been part of the Jewish daily and Sabbath liturgy since the 15th century. It speaks of God in both cosmic terms and as a personal presence in our lives.
“The song is produced by leading independent music distributor Wienerworld and is available as a single on all streaming and download platforms, together with a video on all social media channels, with proceeds going to charity,” a statement by the United Synagogue said.
Jo Grose, the United Synagogue’s chief executive, said in the statement that “while the world has changed dramatically since we were founded in 1870, two constants throughout our 153-year history have been the recital every week in our shuls [synagogues] of the Prayer for the Royal Family and ending our services with ‘Adon Olam’.”She added that they are “delighted therefore to celebrate the coronation of King Charles III with this new version of ‘Adon Olam’ thanks to Wienerworld. ‘Adon Olam’ is often sung by the young members of our community so we’re particularly pleased to have brought them together. We hope you’ll enjoy singing it during the Coronation Shabbat and beyond!”
Anthony Broza, CEO of Wienerworld, said “Wienerworld are very proud to partner with the United Synagogue, the Portnoy Brothers and 200 young voices to produce and distribute this brand new Stephen Levey composition of ‘Adon Olam’ in honor of the coronation. King Charles III has always been a stalwart personal friend to the Jewish community. We hope that this new recording of ‘Adon Olam’ will act as further recognition of the community’s affection for the Royal Family and our gratitude that Jews can observe their customs and traditions safely and openly in the UK.”
Mendy and Israel Portnoy have been making music together for as long as they can remember. Their music spans many genres and their most recent album No Complaints (recorded between Nashville and Jerusalem) hit the Top 10 Billboard Heatseekers Chart and features a duet with Alex Clare. They have also shared the stage with Idan Raichel and Ivri Lider, and have performed with the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, splitting their time between Jerusalem and New York.
Stephen Levey started writing and performing music from a young age and has worked with some of the biggest names in the world of Jewish music. For 30 years, Levey was the musical director and conductor of the Shabbaton Choir. During this time, he toured extensively both in the UK and abroad – including 11 Solidarity Through Song tours to Israel, appeared in concerts in the UK, Germany, Poland, Sweden and on three major tours of America. Levey’s strengths lie both in performing and composing uplifting music that has been sung worldwide.
In addition, the office of UK’s Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis has published a special prayer booklet for what is know as the Coronation Shabbat. The booklet is titled “Prayers of Thanksgiving and Supplication To Mark The Coronation of Their Majesties King Charles III and Queen Camilla.”
The booklet has a number if prayers that are known across the Jewish world but also others unique to British Judaism.One of them reads: “Almighty God, By Your grace, kings reign and princes rule... You have placed Your servant King Charles III on the throne of his ancestors. He rules over many in places across the world under his sceptre, which symbolises freedom, righteousness, and humanity.”It adds: “Today, he is anointed King, and the crown of sovereignty is placed upon his head. Songs of rejoicing and loyalty resound from people across the world.”
According to Town and Country magazine “Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and his wife will be guests of the royal couple [at Clarence House Friday] in order to observe Shabbat and still attend the coronation.” The initiative, it said, came from Buckingham Palace which realized the coronation “will clash with Shabbat.”
Other Jewish gestures are expected in the upcoming week.