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Memorial Display – From H.M.Victoria to H.M. Elizabeth: 

How the Shaar has memorialized and celebrated the British Monarch



In early February of 1901, Congregation Shaar Hashomayim held a memorial service for Queen Victoria. This Saturday evening, as we mark one hundred years in our own building, we will be holding our fifth memorial service for a reigning sovereign: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, who sat on the throne for most of that century. In a newly mounted display outside of the Chapel, we exhibit how our congregation has celebrated and memorialized momentous occasions for Canada’s monarchs, from Queen Victoria to Queen Elizabeth II.

Shaar Hashomayim was founded in 1846—just nine years into Queen Victoria’s reign. Since her passing in 1901, our Congregation has held memorial services upon the death of every Canadian Sovereign. Over the past year, we have shared how the Shaar has marked the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II (in honour of her Platinum Jubilee), the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria (185 years since her ascension to the throne in 1837), and the death of King George VI (70 years this year). Yet we have far more materials documenting the Shaar’s respect for the Canadian Monarchy within the synagogue’s archives. In the display you will find materials relating to the reigns of Queen Victoria, King Edward VII, King George V, King George VI, and Queen Elizabeth II. (Of course, the only one missing is King Edward VIII, whose reign lasted under a year).


As you peruse the display you may notice that some of the pamphlets were printed and distributed by the Office of the Chief Rabbi of the British Empire (later United Kingdom and the Commonwealth), to whose leadership our own Congregation often looked, as we aligned ourselves with the British tradition. Another interesting paper to note is a letter from the office of the Governor General of Canada, thanking the Congregation for their official sympathies upon the death of King Edward VII in 1910. 


We hope you enjoy the display and welcome your questions and comments!

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Saturday, May 18, 2024 10 Iyyar 5784