“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.
(Photo: Aish.com / YouTube)
Despite advances in modern medicine, China is setting up roadblocks to cope with an outbreak of an ancient plague that once wiped out one-third of the world’s population and may have been one of the plagues that God used to strike Egypt.
Chinese officials installed temperature scanners at airports and checkpoints on main roads in an attempt to stop the spread of Bubonic plague as a fourth case was discovered in less than three weeks. A program to exterminate rats and fleas, which carry the disease, was also launched in Inner Mongolia where the disease seems to be originating.
Demonstrators gather in solidarity with anti-regime protests in Iran outside the Iranian Embassy in Helsinki, Finland. Photo: Reuters / Lehtikuva / Heikki Saukkomaa.
Four human rights lawyers currently imprisoned by the Iranian regime have been awarded with the annual prize of Europe’s most prestigious lawyers’ association.
The Iranian lawyers received the 2019 Human Rights Award from The Council of Bars and Law Societies Of Europe (CCBE) — a body that represents the bars and law societies of 45 countries and through them more than 1 million European lawyers.
The University of Bristol campus. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.
The University of Bristol in England has adopted “in full” the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, the school’s Epigram independent student newspaper reported on Monday.
The Union of Jewish Students (UJS) and Bristol’s Jewish Society (J-Soc) welcomed the move, saying, “The University of Bristol has not been free of antisemitic incidents and the adoption of this definition is an important first step in helping the university tackle anti-Jewish racism. We now expect the university to use this definition in outstanding disciplinary cases.”
Pope Francis Meets Thailand’s Buddhist Patriarch in Golden Temple (screenshot)
Pope Francis topped off his three-day visit to Thailand last Saturday with a meeting with Thailand’s supreme Buddhist patriarch Somdej Phra Maha Muneewong at Bangkok’s Ratchabophit Temple. The meeting took place in front of a 150-year-old gold statue of Buddha. The Pope followed Buddhist custom by removing his shoes.
During the meeting, the Pope gave the Buddhist Patriarch the Declaration on Human Brotherhood. The Declaration s a joint statement signed by Pope Francis of the Catholic Church and Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, last February in Abu Dhabi. The Pope met with the Imam last month to reinforce the Declaration.
An Israeli company says it is using space travel technology to help solve one of the most pressing problems down on Earth — the reliance on diesel fuel, a major source of pollution.
Israeli startup GenCell has developed an electric generator based on a hydrogen-energy technology used to power some of the most-famous space missions in history.
The verse (Deuteronomy 6:4) Shema Yisrael – “Hear Oh Israel the Lord our God, the Lord is One” – is understood to (in Wikipedia’s words) “encapsulate the monotheistic essence of Judaism.” It’s understood to be a declaration not only there is one and only one God, but also that God’s oneness is all-inclusive. God includes every particle of existence is within Him. God is not just ruling over the world. God encompasses the world. Time and space and all of us are within God. Nothing stands outside of God’s Oneness, and God encompasses all existence equally
Watching events unfold in Israel is an experience in split-screen living. On the right side of the screen is the chaos outside our gates, in neighboring lands. And on the left side of the screen is the chaos inside.
On the left side of the screen on Tuesday, 15,000 Israelis gathered Tuesday evening outside the Tel Aviv Museum of Art to demand legal justice for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the face of what they view as an anti-democratic usurpation of political power by Israel’s legal fraternity.
It hard to believe that two weeks ago, Israel was on the brink of war. With the Palestinian Islamic Jihad firing nearly 500 missiles from Gaza into Israel within a 48-hour period, even Tel Aviv was put on alert and certain train routes were canceled. My mind immediately raced to a Christian group I was going to host for Shabbat in Jerusalem Israel – Pastor Leroy Armstrong of Proclaiming the Word Ministries.
Turkey’s little remarked on but ongoing mistreatment of historic churches is increasingly reflective of that nation’s growing sense of Islamic supremacism.
Before the Turks invaded it, Anatolia (present day Turkey) was an ancient Christian region; a large chunk of St. Paul’s epistles were sent to or dealt with its churches, including the seven of the Apocalypse. With the Turks’ conquest, colonization, and subsequent Turkification of Anatolia—hence why it’s now simply called “Turkey”—tens of thousands of churches were systematically desecrated and turned into victory mosques.
Sorek was the grandson of a Rabbi who survived the Holocaust, and was universally described as a kind, gentle soul. His funeral was interrupted by Palestinians shooting off fireworks celebrating his murder.
Two terrorists, including one affiliated with Hamas were arrested for the murder. And at the time, Hamas said in a statement, “We salute the hero fighters, sons of our people, who carried out the heroic operation which killed a soldier of the occupation army,” Hamas said in a statement. The Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad also hailed the killing as “heroic and bold.”