Prince Philip’s “mastery at making people laugh” has been recalled by the former president of the Board of Deputies, as he remembered the day the royal opened Hertsmere Jewish primary in Radlett.
Following the Duke of Edinburgh’s death aged 99 on Friday, Jonathan Arkush, who served as communal leader from 2015 to 2018, remembered the royal for his “wonderful sense of humour”.
Opening Hertsmere Jewish Primary School in 2000, Prince Philip “ was a wonderful guest, engaging brilliantly with the children and giving an off- the-cuff outstandingly witty speech,” said Arkush, who was a chair of governors of HJPS governor at the time.
“In my welcoming remarks I referred to our community’s everlasting gratitude and admiration for the Prince’s mother, Princess Alice, who rescued Jewish families from the Nazis in the Second World War. Prince Philip was visibly moved and wiped his eyes.”
Princess Alice is buried in Jerusalem, and is recognised as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem.
“The prince had a wonderful sense of humour. Seeing HJPS’s benefactor Stanley Cohen in a plaster cast around his foot, and referring to Stanley’s skill in fundraising, he joked that someone had obviously decided to get one back at Stanley when asked for a donation.”
Arkush said the Prince and Cohen “enjoyed a long friendship” and he “was very appreciative that Stanley chaired the Duke of Edinburgh Award Charitable Trust for a number of years”.
The former Board president also reflected on an interfaith event he attended, “where many clergy of all faiths were present. Standing next to me in the reception line was the unmistakably rabbinic figure of Rabbi Hershel Gluck.
“The prince grinned at him mischievously and asked what he did. ‘I’m a rabbi’ the answer came back. Prince Philip pretended to roll his eyes to heaven and said “Another one!” He was a master at making people laugh.
“As I reflect on his passing, I recall the courage and righteousness of Princess Alice, and Prince Philip’s own record of friendship towards our community. I am grateful for his long life and saddened by his loss.”
Hertsmere Jewish Primary School told Jewish News: “We are deeply saddened to hear about the untimely passing of Prince Philiip. He opened Hertsmere Jewish Primary School and we share a tremendous sense of pride and achievement that he was there at the beginning our journey.”
All gallery photos: David Katz
Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.
Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.
For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.
Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.
You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.
100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...
Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.
There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.
In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.
Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.
In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.
Voice of our community to wider society
The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.
We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.