“To repeat, after you have been knighted by Her Majesty the Queen, you will proceed in this direction to receive your certificate,” said the woman, speaking in courtly, faux British accent.
She was wearing an elaborate costume — including a heavy, full brocade skirt — despite the sweltering temperature. Yet she was clearly enjoying herself as she prepared participants for a “children’s knighting ceremony” at the local Renaissance Faire.
I had taken my kids, ages 4 and 6, to the Renaissance Faire — an outdoor festival that’s in a semi-historical, if anachronistic, setting that is roughly supposed to resemble Elizabethan England. Included in the ticket price are entertainment options for all ages — including bawdy tavern songs, blacksmith demonstrations, jousting tournaments and the opportunity to rest on pleasantly shaded benches while the queen of the festival conferred titles on babies, toddlers and young children.
My kids seemed semi-interested in being knighted, which meant this activity was winning out over all the other entertainment options we had tried so far. Participating in an interactive dramatic story about a friendly dragon was deemed “boring;” marching with the local militia had not been (perhaps thankfully) a draw; even the bright red shaved ice they had begged for after lunch had turned out to be a disappointment.
Needless to say, our day was not going how I’d imagined it would. I love Ren Faires — I even worked at one during high school, hawking hand-dyed tunics and skirts that the whimsical shop owner had sewed through the winter and sold all summer. I have fond memories of going to my first faire, when I was 7. I wore a conical hat with hot pink veils that draped from the top, and I loved the way everyone called me “m’lady.”
My children, however, were unimpressed by the costumes, the live shows and the silly antics. I was starting to hear the dreaded question, “When can we go home?” This chance to be knighted by the queen was one of my last hopes for giving them a good impression of the day.
So, we joined the queue and waited for the queen to arrive. A few minutes later, she came to greet the small lords and ladies lined up to receive her favor — sorry, favour.
The herald called out the name of the first child. The queen then held the sword above the kid’s head and proceeded to tap each of his shoulders, as she announced to the gathered families: “In the name of God, Saint Gregory and Saint Michael, I dub thee Sir Tanner, defender of the realm.”
Hearing the words of the knighting — the saints, in particular — I realized that I had a problem. Or, at least, a choice to make. I hadn’t expected this ceremony would have a religious element, and I definitely hadn’t thought that my children would receive their titles in the name of saints, devout Christians who had lived their lives according to a faith very different from ours.
As I saw it, I had two options. Option 1: I could sit quietly and let the kids be knighted in the names of Saint Gregory and Saint Michael. They had never heard of saints, and I doubted there was too much blasphemy involved in receiving a fake title from a fake queen who had become royalty simply by rising through the ranks of the local Ren Faire players. Not a big deal, right?
Option 2: Disrupt the ceremony — thereby earning myself the title “Lady Weird Mom” — and take a stand for religious pluralism in make-believe Elizabethan England.
Whatever my personal preference, I had noticed my husband tense as soon as the queen mentioned the saints. And so, like Mordechai from the Purim story — who would bow down only to God — it was time for me to bring my religious identity to the royal court.
I made my way to the lady’s maid, who was helping the children line up in an orderly fashion for their knightings.
“Hi! Um, excuse me, is there any way I can get my kids knighted without mentioning the saints?” I asked.
The maid, a woman in her 20s or 30s who clearly had experience corralling children on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen, looked confused.
“Without mentioning the saints?” she asked. This was obviously not a question she heard often.
I nodded. “Right, without the saints,” I said.
“We’re Jewish,” I added, hopefully communicating that though my request may seem a bit absurd, at least it was absurdity with precedent.
“I suppose we could do that,” she said. “No one has ever asked before. Perhaps they could be knighted in the name of an angel? Perhaps Azriel?”
I couldn’t remember offhand who Azriel was, and seeing as I’m a Jewish educator, I didn’t think that was a good sign.
“An angel sounds great,” I said. I named the first two angels I could think of — archangels that are said to reside close to the divine throne and who, conveniently, have name recognition in both Jewish and Christian settings.
“How about Gabriel or Michael?” (Later I learned that Azriel was the angel of death. Quite a choice for a 4-year-old’s knighting, so I’m glad I passed!)
“Very well,” the lady said, still in character and speaking with the appropriate British-ish accent. “When you approach the queen, I shall go with you to inform her of the change. The queen is a bit on autopilot when she performs the knightings, so it may take her a moment to understand the request. Are your children both young lords?”
“One boy and one girl.”
“Very well. In whose name would you like the young lady knighted? The queen prefers to use Saint Anne.”
Now it was my turn to be confused — my first thought was that angels are androgynous and should be fine for any young lord or lady. However, when the queen’s handler suggested that my daughter be knighted in the name of Sarah, in addition to an angel, I agreed rather than debate an angel’s gender identity.
“So, Sarah and which angel?”
“Any angel, it doesn’t — Gabriel,” I said. “Let’s go with Gabriel.”
A few minutes later, my 4-year-old daughter, the lady’s maid, and I approached the queen.
The maid quickly explained to the queen that there was a slight change in the ceremony, and that my daughter should be knighted “in the name of Sarah and Gabriel.”
“Saint Sarah?” the queen asked, not unkindly.
“No, just Sarah,” I said. “From the Bible.” And then, back to that urge to make the request sound reasonable, “We’re Jewish.”
“Very well,” the queen said. But then, before starting the ceremony, she asked in appropriate Elizabethan fashion: “Do you know God?”
“Yes,” I said, glad that I understood what her oddly phrased question meant.
The queen held the sword over my daughter’s head and proceeded to tap her shoulders: “In the name of God, Sarah and Gabriel,” she said, “I dub thee Lady Hedy, defender of the realm.”
The queen’s guard indicated where we should go to receive a personalized certificate. I was so relieved that the knighting was over that I didn’t even witness my 6-year-old’s ceremony, presumably performed in the name of God, Michael and Gabriel. But in that moment, I was just another mom at the Ren Faire, repeating the spelling of my child’s name to the court calligrapher.
Menachem Begin in December 1942 wearing the Polish Army uniform of Gen. Anders’ forces with his wife Aliza and David Yutan; (back row) Moshe Stein and Israel Epstein
(photo credit: JABOTINSKY ARCHIVES)
During the inauguration of a memorial to the victims of the Siege of Leningrad in Jerusalem’s Sacher Park on January 24, 2020, before the climax of Holocaust remembrance events at which Russian President Vladimir Putin was given a central platform, we were stunned to hear a rendition of The Blue Kerchief (Siniy
Giant figures are seen during the 87th carnival parade of Aalst February 15, 2015
The annual carnival in Aalst, Belgium, is expected to take place on Sunday with even more antisemitic elements than in previous years.
Aalst’s organizers have sold hundreds of “rabbi kits” for revelers to dress as hassidic Jews in the carnival’s parade. The kit includes oversized noses, sidelocks (peyot) and black hats. The organizers plan to bring back floats similar to the one displayed in 2019 featuring oversized dolls of Jews, with rats on their shoulders, holding banknotes.
Pope Francis waves as he arrives at the Basilica of Saint Nicholas in the southern Italian coastal city of Bari, Italy February 23, 2020. Photo: REUTERS/Remo Casilli.
Pope Francis on Sunday warned against “inequitable solutions” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying they would only be a prelude to new crises, in an apparent reference to US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace proposal.
Francis made his comments in the southern Italian port city of Bari, where he traveled to conclude a meeting of bishops from all countries in the Mediterranean basin.
Palestinians walk past a shop selling fruits in Ramallah, Feb. 20, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Mohamad Torokman.
Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) have reached an agreement to end a five-month long trade dispute, officials said on Thursday.
The dispute, which opened a new front in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, began in September when the PA announced a boycott of Israel calves. The PA exercises limited self-rule in the West Bank under interim peace deals.
Antisemitic caricatures on display at the annual carnival in Aalst, Belgium. Photo: Raphael Ahren via Twitter.
Disturbing images emerged on Sunday of the annual carnival at Aalst, Belgium, showing an astounding number of antisemitic themes, costumes, displays and statements.
Israeli journalist Raphael Ahren documented people dressed as caricatures of Orthodox Jews, a fake “wailing wall” attacking critics of the parade, blatantly antisemitic characters and puppets wearing traditional Jewish clothes and sporting huge noses.
The stench of anti-Semitism always hovers over Switzerland’s Lake Geneva when the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is meeting there. The foul emanations reached a new nadir last week with UNHRC’s publication of a “database” of companies doing business in the disputed territories in Israel.
Following the publication of the list, Bruno Stagno Ugarte, deputy director for advocacy of NGO Human Rights Watch, stated, “The long-awaited release of the U.N. settlement business database should put all companies on notice: To do business with illegal settlements [sic] is to aid in the commission of war crimes.”
One of the many things that annoys me about politicians is how sure they are of themselves. Everything is black and white. Every idea is good or bad. Take globalism, for example. You either love it or hate it. It works or it doesn’t.
Another thing that annoys me is how so much of a politician’s life revolves around power: Do everything you can to get it, and everything you can to keep it.
Why am I ranting? Because, while our politicians have been consumed with power and the media with the fights over power, a threat to our nation has been virtually ignored.
Blue and White Party leaders Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid are establishing their diplomatic credentials in the immediate run-up to Israel’s March 2 election with an insult to a U.S. administration that has arguably provided Israel with more diplomatic gains than any previous administration.
The Times of Israel reported that at a campaign stop in front of English-speaking Israelis, Gantz accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “of neglecting bipartisan ties in favor of exclusive support from U.S. President Donald Trump’s Republican Party,” under the headline “Gantz pledges to mend ties with U.S. Democrats if elected.”
Bipartisanship was in short supply at the State of the Union address earlier this month—with one notable exception.
Nancy Pelosi had been looking dyspeptic, shuffling the papers she would later rip to shreds, when President Donald Trump reminded his audience that “the United States is leading a 59-nation diplomatic coalition against the socialist dictator of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro.”
Suddenly, the House Speaker applauded. Trump then introduced “the true and legitimate president of Venezuela: Juan Guaidó.”
The law professor Alan Dershowitz has thrown a legal hand-grenade into America’s political civil war by claiming to have evidence that former President Barack Obama “personally asked” the FBI to investigate someone “on behalf” of Obama’s “close ally,” billionaire financier George Soros.
He made his cryptic remark in an interview defending U.S. President Donald Trump against claims he interfered in the prosecution of his former adviser, Roger Stone.