King Charles helps chief rabbi respect Shabbat at coronation
Britain's chief rabbi will join other faith leaders at Saturday's coronation of King Charles III but faces a unique problem -- how to ensure his attendance does not breach the Jewish Shabbat.
Ephraim Mirvis on Friday praised the "respectful, sensitive" way that Charles's office had handled the situation, even by extending to an invitation for him to spend the night with his wife Valerie at St James's Palace.
That means that the chief rabbi can walk to the nearby Westminster Abbey on Saturday morning, rather than breaking Shabbat rules by using motorised transport.
A Kosher caterer has been brought in to prepare their Friday night dinner of coronation chicken, Mirvis told Sky News.
After the Christian coronation service, the chief rabbi will join British Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist leaders in making a spoken declaration in unison towards their newly crowned king.
"It will be quite brief, but exceptionally powerful," Mirvis said, while stressing that he was not required to speak into an electronic microphone in the abbey, again to respect the Jewish holy day.
The unprecedented joint declaration from other religious leaders reads: "Your Majesty, as neighbours in faith, we acknowledge the value of public service.
"We unite with people of all faiths and beliefs in thanksgiving, and in service with you for the common good."
Mirvis received special dispensation from Britain's Beth Din Jewish court to enter a Christian church on the Shabbat, out of respect for an invitation from the sovereign.
"This is a wonderful feature of 21st century Britain, and our king wants to champion the rights of members of all faiths to practise their religion," the chief rabbi added.
"He did this marvellously while he was prince of Wales. He's continuing now as the king.
"And it's not just within the Jewish faith. I know that members of other faiths as well hugely appreciate this. And now to be included in the coronation service, it's very special."
The service at Westminster Abbey will be overwhelmingly drawn from the Christian liturgy as Charles takes an oath to serve as "Defender of the (Protestant) Faith" and to protect the established Church of England.
But the king has a long interest in bridging religious divides, and has spoken about acting as "defender of faith" in general as Britain grew more multi-cultural under the 70-year reign of his late mother.
In another coronation first, Charles will pray aloud during Saturday's service, to ask God that "I may be a blessing to all thy children, of every faith and conviction".