Speech by Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, at the unveiling of a statue of Licoricia of Winchester on 10 February 2022
“Lord-Lieutenant, faith leaders, distinguished local representatives, ladies and gentlemen, today we recall the past for the sake of our future.
We recall many evil times when there was sustained horrific persecution of Jews in this country, leading ultimately to the expulsion of the Jews from England in 1290. We recall that, within those exceptionally trying times, there was an extraordinary lady, committed to her faith, who was determined to raise her family, build a successful enterprise, and give a contribution of inestimable value to her country.
Our prayer today is that our memories of Licoricia of Winchester will be a blessing for everyone in the United Kingdom, and indeed the life and times of Licoricia provide inspiration for our future.
In the face of adversity, let us always show courage and fortitude, and, like Licoricia, never lose hope. Where there is diversity, let us respect our differences. Where there is discrimination, let us guarantee that every single person will reach his or her full potential and achieve their hopes and aspirations. Where there is inequality, let us always remember that every single human being is born equal in the image of God. Where there is unbearable poverty and hardship, let us reach out to one and all with love and affection, generosity and kindness. Where there are vulnerable minorities, let them all be provided with full protection. And where there is hatred, let us live up to the aspirations of the great Biblical verse engraved on this statue that we should always love our neighbours as ourselves.
May our recollections of Licoricia, and may this statue always provide a blessing for everyone in the United Kingdom, so that we should have a future of peace, harmony, mutual respect, and prosperity.