Lord Levy urges more Jewish Pride for Anglo Jewry
Lord Michael Levy, former Prime Minister Tony Blair's special envoy to the Middle East, addressed 200 people at an Oxford Chabad Society alumni event in conjunction with Chabad on Campus UK in June at Bevis Marks synagogue on the subject of Jewish pride.
His message to the Jewish students and community was that as he was able to balance his Jewish identity and observance without compromise with the high profile life as personal envoy of the Prime Minister of the UK, others may be inspired to also.
He revealed how he used to spend Shabbat numerous times at the private suite in Downing Street with Tony Blair and Lady Levy’s home baked Kosher Shabbat cooking was always a favourite to the Prime Minister. He also said that every Embassy round the world knew his Kosher dietary requirements. President Assad once had to bring in Kosher food from Turkey for him. Even the Saudi Ambassador once held a dinner in his honour and made sure it was catered according to his Kosher requirements.
Lord Levy prided himself that many Ambassadors joined him for Shabbat dinner in his private home. He said he had the Palestinian President ‘Abu Mazen’ and former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert joining him together for Shabbat dinner at his home and they both were wearing a Yarmulkah.
He told the audience that whenever he would travel round the world on behalf of Tony Blair, whether to Damascus, Gulf or Cairo, he would always take with him his Talit and Tefilin and would make sure to pray every morning. He once had to travel to meet the President of Kazakhstan on behalf of Blair and as it was in the Hebrew month of Elul before the Jewish New Year, he took with him not only his Talit and Tefilin but also his Shofar.
As the British Ambassador’s wife just gave birth, they was put him up in a hotel with security round the clock outside his room. In the morning he began to pray and at the end of the prayers he proceeded to blow the Shofar, according to the Jewish tradition. Lord Levy related how the security were alarmed and ran to call for the Foreign Office staff to see if everything was okay, as there were strange noises coming out of Lord Levy’s room. They thought the Prime Minster’s personal envoy must be Meshugah!
His profound message was that Jews should be proud who they are and never hide away from it. If it’s good enough for the Prime Minister of the UK to have Kosher food served at the private suite at Downing Street, if it’s good enough to have the Saudi Ambassador order Kosher food for him, one should always maintain one’s Judaism and remember one’s Jewish identity wherever one finds oneself.
He concluded his talk by thanking the work of the Oxford Chabad Society and Chabad on Campus UK and their supporters with helping make sure that Jewish students are instilled with a Jewish pride. Chazak v’ematz!