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Saturday, May 18, 2024

King Charles visited a Jewish community centre and charity and dance, ahead of Chanukah celebrations

On Friday His Majesty King Charles III visited a Jewish community centre and charity ahead of Chanukah celebrations set to kick off this weekend.
Upon his arrival at JW3, a Jewish community centre that is open to all faiths and acts as a hub for the arts, culture, social action and learning in North London, the King shook hands with Representative Deputy Lieutenant for Camden, Ms Roxane Zand, who then introduced JW3 ​trustees including founder and Life President, Dame Vivian Duffield, the centre’s Chair Marc Nohr, and its Chief Executive Officer Raymond Simonson.

He then lent over the entrance bridge to wave at children playing on the centre’s ice rink on the ground floor, to which he was greeted with cheers and waves.

His Majesty was guided around the bustling premises by JW3 chief executive Ray Simonson, first stopping to speak with students from local independent school South Hampstead High School, as they wrapped gifts about to be donated by JW3 volunteers within the surrounding community for Chanukah and Christmas celebrations.

He then talked with students taking part in a Hair and Beauty Therapy BTEC class as part of the centre’s Gateways programme, an educational and vocational scheme that supports vulnerable young people at risk.

Mr Simonson said His Majesty had been interested to hear “so many of the people in the building speak about racing their MBE or OBE from his mother Queen Elizabeth I,” and said the visit “felt quite personal”.

He also said that he had a “really interesting conversation about their food bank work which is inspired by Jewish values.”

In the JW3 kitchen, The King met with volunteers as they baked gingerbread cookies to be included in the meals the centre’s food bank programme that has delivered the equivalent of 275,000 meals across Camden since it was set up in 2020.

One young volunteer, Sufinat, dropped to her knees in tears at the sight of the monarch.

The centre currently provides around 200 bags of essentials a week and over 2,200 meals for local residents in need, with figures often being higher around holidays such as Chanukah and Christmas.

His Majesty aided the effort by dropping off his own food donations during the visit.

The King then joined an energetic pre-Chanukah reception being hosted for 25 Holocaust survivors, even joining them and their carers in a dance as a gleeful rendition of Oseh Shalom played on in the background.

Dame Vivien Duffield then gifted the King a Chanukiah as he unveiled a commemorative plaque to mark the visit.

Before his departure, he spoke with volunteers for "The Bike Project:" an initiative that collects second-hand bike donations to be refurbished and then donated to refugees and asylum seekers.

Founded by Dame Vivien Duffield DBE, JW3 opened in October 2013 as a cross-communal public venue for Jewish arts, culture, learning and community in the country - open to all, regardless of race, religion, belief, gender, sexuality, ability or age.

Its programmes include adult education, language classes, theatre and musical performances, youth activities, film, family events and social impact schemes.

The Community Security Trust (CST) also said it was "honoured to host" His Majesty at its North London headquarters earlier in the day.

CST is a charity that protects British Jews from antisemitism and related threats.

The King was welcomed by the charity's Chairman Gerald Ronson CBE and Deputy Chairman, Sir Lloyd Dorfman CBE, before then meeting with a group of volunteers, staff and trustees.

The King then viewed a self-defence training session, visited CST’s 24/7 security control centre; and was briefed on its activities which include support for the antisemitism victims and anti-terrorism research.

Sir Lloyd Dorfman CVO CBE said it “was a privilege to host The King” and discuss “what it takes to protect British Jews, while CST Chief Executive Mark Gardner said His Majesty was “warm, engaging,” and that the visit meant a lot,” to its volunteers, staff and trustees.
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