Two unrelated Jews from different walks of life meet in an unlikely place and discover they are connected. You've heard that story before in Jewish folklore. Well, it happened to me recently.
It was a few days before Passover. I had three hours to kill after leaving a meeting on West 57th Street in Manhattan before joining my wife and friends for dinner followed by a show at Lincoln Center. It was a gorgeous sunny day, rare for the miserable winter we were experiencing. So I walked over to the new plaza at Lincoln Center. While I was taking in the sun in front of Avery Fisher Hall, a young Hasid approached me. "Are you Jewish?" he asked. "Yes," I answered. He then asked me to put on tefillin and say a prayer.
It's been a long time since I put on tefillin and I was not keen on doing it right there on the plaza of Lincoln Center. I tried to squirm out. "I've got an appointment and have to leave," I told him. He persisted. And he seemed so sincere and eager to perform this mitzvah, persuading someone he probably perceived as a wayward son of Israel to perform a Jewish ritual, that I caved. "OK. I'll do it."
I removed my jacket and rolled up my shirt sleeve as he began winding the tefillin around my arm. I pointed to the leather box and said, "Oh, that has scripture from Deuteronomy and Exodus."
He was surprised that I knew that.
"Well, I've taken Torah classes with Rabbi Simon Jacobson," I told him, hoping he would realize that I wasn't a total idiot about Judaism. "Do you know him?"
"Oh, yes," he responded. "He's a brilliant speaker and he has a newspaper."
"Yes, I know: The Algemeiner Journal. I write for it."
He couldn't have been more shocked that this apparent apostate contributed to this prominent Jewish newspaper. "Do you know Dovid Efune?"
"Of course," I said. "He's the editor and I speak to him from time to time." Again an astonished reaction.
In an excited tone, he spilled out, "He's my brother-in-law. He married my sister last year."
"Isn't that interesting," I said. "At Rabbi Jacobson's Rosh Hashanah dinner this past year I sat next to your sister and brother-in-law."
He almost fell over. "You know, nothing happens by accident." For him, it was a divine intervention, too unlikely to be an accident. Perhaps he was right.
That being said, what's the chance of running into two Jews at Buckingham Palace and discovering that they are the King and Queen of England? Farfetched you say. Some curious emerging facts suggest that it could happen.
When the Royal Wedding uniting Kate Middleton and Prince William was announced, genealogy sleuths got to work. At first, the buzz indicated that Kate's mother, Carole Goldsmith (maiden name), had Jewish ancestry. If Carole Goldsmith were Jewish then, according to Jewish law, her daughter Kate Middleton would be considered Jewish -- and could become the first Jewish Queen (Consort) of England. But alas, investigators still believing that there was a Jewish heritage in Kate's lineage found that the last five generations of her family were married in churches. Of course, that doesn't rule out that some may have been secret Jews, which was true for many Jews during the Inquisition. Other sources still suspect Jewish lineage for Kate. And according to an Orthodox Sephardic Rabbi in Israel, both parents of Kate's mother were Jewish. So the question of Jew or not a Jew for Kate is still open.
But wait, the plot thickens. Could Princess Diana, William's mother, have been Jewish? One source maintains that Princess Diana's mother, Frances Shand Kydd, was Jewish -- born Frances Ruth Burke Roche, a Rothschild.
If factual, that would be sufficient for Princess Diana to be certified Jewish, as well as her son, William, the future King of England. Another investigation of ancestry details a strong Davidic connection for Frances and her descendents
Other intriguing bits of "evidence" and speculation have been cited in the London Daily Mail, which quotes sources that claim that Diana was conceived during her mother's affair with the Jewish banker tycoon Sir James Goldsmith (originally Goldschmidt and no apparent relationship to Carole Goldsmith). The report says that Frances was estranged from her husband, Earl Spencer (Viscount Althorp), and had an affair with Sir James Goldsmith just at the time that Diana was conceived. Strengthening the case, a report points to striking resemblances between Princess Diana and Sir James Goldsmith's other three children, Zak, Ben and Jemima Goldsmith.
If these tidings are true then Diana would be thoroughly Jewish with a Jewish mother (Frances Ruth Burke Roche aka Rothschild) and a Jewish father (Sir James Goldsmith). In turn William, the future King of England, would have deep Jewish roots.
What a myseh (story). Sholem Aleichem and Isaac Bashevis Singer couldn't have told it better.
Follow Bernard Starr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/starrprobe