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“The King is Dead, Long Live the Queen!”: 70 Years since the Death of King George VI



Earlier this week, on February 6th, marked 70 years since the death of King George VI—the father of Queen Elizabeth II. The King had been in poor health for some time and was especially ill from the Autumn of 1951. In fact, during that period, congregations across the British Empire, including the Shaar, took part in praying for the recovery of the king (a pamphlet was distributed by the office of the Chief Rabbi in London.)



The Shaar’s bulletin from the week of February 15th shows just how the congregation responded to the death of the monarch, printing a dedication to the King on the front page. That week, Rabbi Shuchat’s sermon was entitled “The King is Dead, long Live the Queen!” marking the accession of Queen Elizabeth II to the throne (the same day her father died, on February 6th, 1952), whose platinum jubilee we celebrate this year. 



In his weekly column, Rabbi Shuchat wrote some reflections on the death and the legacy of King George VI, as well as on the positive experiences of Jewish communities in the British Commonwealth wherein they were living secure and free lives. 



On February 15th, the Shaar organized and hosted a citywide memorial service to the King—the same day as his funeral—for Montreal’s Jewish community. In attendance were the board of Jewish ministers of Montreal as well as representatives from both local and national Jewish organizations, including the Brigadier Kirsch Branch of the Canadian Legion (for Jewish veterans). The service concluded with what would be among the first times of many that the congregation now instead sang “God Save the Queen.” 



Shaar Bulletin, Week of February 15th (Death of King George VI)


Memorial Service for King George VI (program)

Saturday, May 18, 2024 10 Iyyar 5784