Belfast Telegraph

Royal visit: Belfast's tiny Jewish community delighted to make royal history

Prince Charles with UK Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis during his visit to Belfast synagogue
Prince Charles with UK Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis during his visit to Belfast synagogue
Ruthie Kohner, who met Prince Charles yesterday
Ruthie Kohner, who met Prince Charles yesterday
Allan Preston

By Allan Preston

Prince Charles was welcomed by members of the Jewish community yesterday during the first visit by a senior royal to Belfast synagogue.

UK Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis greeted the heir to the throne as he unveiled a plaque marking the installation of two new stain glass windows celebrating positive community relations.

Among those to speak to Charles at the synagogue was Ruthie Kohner, who moved to Millisle Farm at the age of two in 1939 as part of the Kindertransport for Jewish children escaping the Nazi threat in Europe.

"It was lovely, he was absolutely charming and very friendly," said the 82-year-old.

"I was a bit worried about the pomposity of it all but there was no pomp at all, he was really nice.

"He just asked me about the Kindertransport and I explained to him how my father got a visa to escape from Czechoslovakia because he was asked to do the administration for the kids at the farm."

Along with her parents and older sister, the family travelled for nearly two weeks by train and boat.

She also recalled attending school with a lunchbox of radishes grown on the farm while the other children had chocolate treats.

"It's wonderful that he takes that interest in Millisle Farm; it's a small, tiny place but it's obviously got a lot of meaning about how people were able to be looked after and integrated into another community. That was really impressive," she said.

Shortly before unveiling the plaque, Charles watched recitals of a poem and a song specially commissioned for the occasion.

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall are pictured meeting people in Belfast City Centre as part of their 2 day visit to Northern Ireland. Picture Matt Mackey / Press Eye.
The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall are pictured meeting people in Belfast City Centre as part of their 2 day visit to Northern Ireland. Picture Matt Mackey / Press Eye.
The Prince of Wales speaking with the new Lord Mayor of Belfast John Finucane during a visit to The Bank Buildings in Belfast, where a fire broke out in a Primark store in August 2018, nearly caused the iconic structure to collapse. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales and Duchess Of Cornwall attended a walkabout and visited the Primark store following the blaze which destroyed the iconic building last August. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 22: Camilla, Duchess Of Cornwall during a visit to Belfast on May 22, 2019 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The Prince of Wales and Duchess Of Cornwall attended a walkabout and visited the Primark store following the blaze which destroyed the iconic building last August. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 22: Prince Charles, Prince Of Wales during a visit to Belfast on May 22, 2019 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The Prince of Wales and Duchess Of Cornwall attended a walkabout and visited the Primark store following the blaze which destroyed the iconic building last August. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 22: Camilla, Duchess Of Cornwall during a visit to Belfast on May 22, 2019 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The Prince of Wales and Duchess Of Cornwall attended a walkabout and visited the Primark store following the blaze which destroyed the iconic building last August. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 22: Prince Charles, Prince Of Wales during a visit to Belfast on May 22, 2019 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The Prince of Wales and Duchess Of Cornwall attended a walkabout and visited the Primark store following the blaze which destroyed the iconic building last August. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 22: Prince Charles, Prince Of Wales during a visit to Belfast on May 22, 2019 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The Prince of Wales and Duchess Of Cornwall attended a walkabout and visited the Primark store following the blaze which destroyed the iconic building last August. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 22: Prince Charles, Prince Of Wales during a visit to Belfast on May 22, 2019 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The Prince of Wales and Duchess Of Cornwall attended a walkabout and visited the Primark store following the blaze which destroyed the iconic building last August. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall are pictured meeting people in Belfast City Centre as part of their 2 day visit to Northern Ireland. Picture Matt Mackey / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 22nd May 2019 - The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall are pictured meeting people in Belfast City Centre as part of their 2 day visit to Northern Ireland. Picture Matt Mackey / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 22nd May 2019 - The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall are pictured meeting people in Belfast City Centre as part of their 2 day visit to Northern Ireland. Picture Matt Mackey / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 22nd May 2019 - The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall are pictured meeting people in Belfast City Centre as part of their 2 day visit to Northern Ireland. Picture Matt Mackey / Press Eye.
The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall are pictured meeting people in Belfast City Centre as part of their 2 day visit to Northern Ireland. Picture Matt Mackey / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 22nd May 2019 - Photo by William Cherry/Presseye The Prince of Wales is pictured at the Palace Demesne, Armagh during his 2 day visit to Northern Ireland. The rugby and GAA players present HRH with two shirts as he left the Palace.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 22nd May 2019 - Photo by William Cherry/Presseye The Prince of Wales is pictured at the Palace Demesne, Armagh during his 2 day visit to Northern Ireland. He met Ulster and Ireland Rugby star Rory Best and Manager of Armagh County GAA, Kieran McGeeney during a 'game of two halves' which brings together young rugby and GAA players
The Prince of Wales is given a guard of honour by pupils from St Patrick's Grammar School, Armagh and The Royal School, Armagh, after an engagement at Palace Demense in Co. Armagh. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 22, 2019. See PA story ROYAL Tour. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales blowing a whistle during an engagement at Palace Demense in Co. Armagh. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 22, 2019. See PA story ROYAL Tour. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales signing the visitors book at Palace Demense in Co. Armagh with Armagh Lord Mayor Mealla Campbell, sitting infront of portraits of his ancestors King George III, and Queen Charlotte, painted by Scottish portrait-painter Alan Ramsey. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 22, 2019. See PA story ROYAL Tour. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
RETRANSMITTED WITH CORRECT CAPTION The Prince of Wales meeting members of the Lugan District Loyal Orange No.6, during his visit to Brownlow House, Lugan, on the second day of his tour of Northern Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 22, 2019. See PA story ROYAL Tour. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
RETRANSMITTED WITH CORRECT CAPTION The Prince of Wales during his visit to Brownlow House, Lugan, on the second day of his tour of Northern Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 22, 2019. See PA story ROYAL Tour. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales looks at the Ulster rugby and Armagh GAA county jersey he was presented by pupils from The Royal School, Armagh, and St Patrick's Grammar School, Armagh, following an engagement at Palace Demense in Co. Armagh. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 22, 2019. See PA story ROYAL Tour. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales is given a guard of honour by pupils from St Patrick's Grammar School, Armagh and The Royal School, Armagh, after an engagement at Palace Demense in Co. Armagh. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 22, 2019. See PA story ROYAL Tour. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales is given a guard of honour by pupils from St Patrick's Grammar School, Armagh and The Royal School, Armagh, after an engagement at Palace Demense in Co. Armagh. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 22, 2019. See PA story ROYAL Tour. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales meeting the choir during his visit to Brownlow House, Lugan, on the second day of his tour of Northern Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 22, 2019. See PA story ROYAL Tour. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales with pupils from St Patrick's Grammar School, Armagh and The Royal School, Armagh, during an engagement at Palace Demense in Co. Armagh. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 22, 2019. See PA story ROYAL Tour. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales at the Finnebrogue Artisan event in Downpatrick, Co Down, on the second day of the Royal couple's visit to Northern Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 22, 2019. See PA story ROYAL Tour. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales meets 9-month-old Margot Dixon, Esme Dixon, 2, and Denis Lynn at the Finnebrogue Artisan event in Downpatrick, Co Down, on the second day of the Royal couple's visit to Northern Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 22, 2019. See PA story ROYAL Tour. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales during a visit to Belfast Synagogue on the second day of the Royal couple's visit to Northern Ireland. Joe Giddens/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales with Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis during a visit to Belfast Synagogue on the second day of the Royal couple's visit to Northern Ireland. Joe Giddens/PA Wire
HRH The Prince of Wales meets members of the Hebrew Community at the Belfast Hebrew Congregation. Photo by Aaron McCracken
HRH The Prince of Wales meets members of the Hebrew Community at the Belfast Hebrew Congregation. Photo by Aaron McCracken
HRH The Prince of Wales meets guests at the Belfast Hebrew Congregation. Photo by Aaron McCracken
The Prince of Wales during a visit to Belfast Synagogue on the second day of the Royal couple's visit to Northern Ireland. Joe Giddens/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales unveils a plaque during a visit to Belfast Synagogue on the second day of the Royal couple's visit to Northern Ireland. Joe Giddens/PA Wire
HRH The Prince of Wales unveiled a plaque at the Belfast Hebrew Congregation today to mark the installation of two new stain glass windows in the Synagogue. Photo by Aaron McCracken
HRH The Prince of Wales pictured with Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis as he visits at the Belfast Hebrew Congregation. Photo by Aaron McCracken
HRH The Prince of Wales meets Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis as he arrives at the Belfast Hebrew Congregation. Photo by Aaron McCracken
The Prince of Wales speaking with the new Lord Mayor of Belfast John Finucane during a visit to The Bank Buildings in Belfast, where a fire broke out in a Primark store in August 2018, nearly caused the iconic structure to collapse. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 22, 2019. See PA story ROYAL Tour. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 22nd May 2019 - The Duchess of Cornwall is pictured meeting people at the Belfast Welcome Organisation in west Belfast during her 2 day visit to Northern Ireland. Belfast Welcome Organisation has been providing potentially life-saving services and support to people affected by homelessness in Belfast since 1977. Photo by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 22nd May 2019 - The Duchess of Cornwall is pictured meeting people at the Belfast Welcome Organisation in west Belfast during her 2 day visit to Northern Ireland. Belfast Welcome Organisation has been providing potentially life-saving services and support to people affected by homelessness in Belfast since 1977. Photo by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 22nd May 2019 - The Duchess of Cornwall is pictured meeting people at the Belfast Welcome Organisation in west Belfast during her 2 day visit to Northern Ireland. Belfast Welcome Organisation has been providing potentially life-saving services and support to people affected by homelessness in Belfast since 1977. Photo by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 22nd May 2019 - The Duchess of Cornwall is pictured meeting people at the Belfast Welcome Organisation in west Belfast during her 2 day visit to Northern Ireland. Belfast Welcome Organisation has been providing potentially life-saving services and support to people affected by homelessness in Belfast since 1977. Photo by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 22nd May 2019 - The Duchess of Cornwall is pictured meeting people at the Belfast Welcome Organisation in west Belfast during her 2 day visit to Northern Ireland. Belfast Welcome Organisation has been providing potentially life-saving services and support to people affected by homelessness in Belfast since 1977. Photo by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 22nd May 2019 - The Duchess of Cornwall is pictured meeting people at the Belfast Welcome Organisation in west Belfast during her 2 day visit to Northern Ireland. Belfast Welcome Organisation has been providing potentially life-saving services and support to people affected by homelessness in Belfast since 1977. Photo by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 22nd May 2019 - The Duchess of Cornwall is pictured meeting people at the Belfast Welcome Organisation in west Belfast during her 2 day visit to Northern Ireland. Belfast Welcome Organisation has been providing potentially life-saving services and support to people affected by homelessness in Belfast since 1977. Photo by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 22nd May 2019 - The Duchess of Cornwall is pictured meeting people at the Belfast Welcome Organisation in west Belfast during her 2 day visit to Northern Ireland. Belfast Welcome Organisation has been providing potentially life-saving services and support to people affected by homelessness in Belfast since 1977. Photo by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye.
The Prince of Wales with Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis during a visit to Belfast Synagogue on the second day of the Royal couple's visit to Northern Ireland.Photo credit should read: Joe Giddens/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales during a visit to Belfast Synagogue on the second day of the Royal couple's visit to Northern Ireland. Joe Giddens/PA Wire
The Duchess of Cornwall visit the Belfast Welcome Organisation which has been providing potentially life-saving services and support to people affected by homelessness in Belfast since 1997. Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
The Duchess of Cornwall visits the Belfast Welcome Organisation which has been providing potentially life-saving services and support to people affected by homelessness in Belfast since 1997. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 22, 2019. See PA story ROYAL Tour. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
The Duchess of Cornwall arrives for her visit to the Belfast Welcome Organisation which has been providing potentially life-saving services and support to people affected by homelessness in Belfast since 1997. Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
The Duchess of Cornwall arrives for her visit to the Belfast Welcome Organisation which has been providing potentially life-saving services and support to people affected by homelessness in Belfast since 1997. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 22, 2019. See PA story ROYAL Tour. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
The Duchess of Cornwall visits the Belfast Welcome Organisation which has been providing potentially life-saving services and support to people affected by homelessness in Belfast since 1997. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 22, 2019. See PA story ROYAL Tour. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
The Duchess of Cornwall visits the Belfast Welcome Organisation which has been providing potentially life-saving services and support to people affected by homelessness in Belfast since 1997. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 22, 2019. See PA story ROYAL Tour. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
The Duchess of Cornwall arrives for her visit to the Belfast Welcome Organisation which has been providing potentially life-saving services and support to people affected by homelessness in Belfast since 1997. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 22, 2019. See PA story ROYAL Tour. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
The Duchess of Cornwall arrives for her visit to the Belfast Welcome Organisation which has been providing potentially life-saving services and support to people affected by homelessness in Belfast since 1997. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 22, 2019. See PA story ROYAL Tour. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales attends a reception at the Grand Central Hotel hosted by The Spirit of Belfast to celebrate those involved in delivering the success of the tourism and artisan food sectors in Belfast. Liam McBurney/PA Wire

The Chief Rabbi also praised him as "an extraordinary worker to promote peace and reconciliation within our communities".

"I salute him for all the great work he's doing," he added.

"It's in that context that he's coming to the synagogue to pay tribute to the Belfast Jewish community, which throughout the Troubles has reached out to promote peace, harmony and unity."

Dr Dennis Coppel, president of the Belfast Jewish community, told Charles it has been established for more than 150 years now.

"When I was growing up we had a community of about 1,500," he said.

"Sadly, we're now down to about 70. During those years the Jewish community has played an active role in the medical and legal professions as well as businesses."

Dr Coppel recalled being present when Prince Charles spoke at the retirement of Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks.

Referring to his role as future monarch, he said: "I remember you saying: 'Jonathan, you're 65 and retiring, I'm 65 and I haven't started my job'.

"Today we're unveiling windows, a beautiful work of art. More significantly they represent a gift to the community to enhance the relationships between diverse groups in Northern Ireland."

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