No one would have blamed her if she had foregone her chicken soup and the chopped liver (we can but speculate about the menu) to continue preparations for governing Britain on Tuesday night.
But by honouring a long-scheduled invitation to dine at the home of the Chief Rabbi on the eve of entering Number 10, Theresa May could hardly have sent a stronger signal of the importance she places on relations with the Jewish community.
It comes less than 18 months after another hugely significant gesture towards the community when she attended a Board of Deputies plenary on a Sunday morning to offer reassurance in the wake of the Hyper cacher terror attack in Paris. She held up a banner proclaiming ‘Je suis Juif’, proclaimed Britain would not be the same without its Jews and helped to propel the issue to the top of the national headlines throughout the day.
But May’s tenure at the home office has been about far more than just gestures; there’s been no shortage of action to back it up. It’s just four months since she pledged £13m of renewed funding to provide security guards at Jewish schools and synagogues during her latest address to the annual Community Security Trust dinner. On that occasion, she spoke of the government’s strategy to tackle “violent and non-violent” extremism of Islamists and neo-Nazis that has all too often targeted Jews. As home secretary, May also blocked hateful figures like Dieudonne from entering Britain.
Like her predecessor, she incoming PM has proved to be more than just a friend of Israel in fair weather, pledging in the wake of the time of the 2014 Gaza conflict that she would always “defend Israel’s right to defend itself”. There is no reason to think she will waver now she is in the top job.
The fact is that Cameron’s top team was choc full of allies of British Jews and Israel but fewer have the intimate knowledge of the issues impacting on our community. Many in our community will be sad to see a leader the end of a premiership that will go down alongside that of Thatcher and Blair for its warmth to Anglo-Jewry and Israel – but May’s record will offer plenty of reassurance for the months and years ahead.