Chief Rabbi installed in the presence of Prince Charles

September 4, 2013 by J-Wire Staff
Read on for article

South African-born Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis has been installed as the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth  at St John’s Wood United Synagogue in London in the presence of  HRH The Prince of Wales.



Former Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks, HRH Prince Charles, Chief Rabbi Mirvis    photo:Yakir Zur

Former Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks, HRH Prince Charles, Chief Rabbi Efraim Mirvis                 photo:Yakir Zur

Among those who attended were senior members of the Government and Opposition, Members of Parliament, Members of the House of Lords, several European Chief Rabbis, representatives from other synagogal bodies and from the Commonwealth, and leaders of other faiths andover 1400 guests from across the Jewish community.

The installation service will include readings by Head Boys and Girls from Jewish secondary schools, an induction address by Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks and an installation sermon by Rabbi Mirvis.

Prior to the ceremony Chief Rabbi Mirvis said: “It is with great humility that I prepare to take up the position of Chief Rabbi. I am filled with gratitude to God who has guided and protected me from the time of my birth and upbringing in South Africa, through my studies in Israel, on to the years when I had the privilege to lead Irish Jewry and communities in the UK, through to this very special moment.”

He added: “During my Chief Rabbinate I will focus on enhancing and strengthening Jewish education, building and developing our communities and realising fully our potential for social responsibility.”

Speaking of the British Jewish community Chief Rabbi Mirvis said: “The Jewish community in this country has much to be proud of. It is filled with passionate, learned and caring people who give generously of their time to create stronger communities and a better society. I know that together, we will be able to take this contribution to even greater heights.”

Chief Rabbi Marvis spoke of his predecessor saying: “Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks has become a leading spokesman of Judaism for our generation. Through the sheer brilliance of his writings and speeches, he has touched the hearts and moulded the minds of thousands upon thousands of people, not just in this country, but around the world.”

Interfaith is important to Chief Rabbi Mirvis. He said: “Co-operation, mutual respect and personal friendships are crucial in good relations with other faiths. I look forward to building on the strong relationships we have with other faith communities in this country.”

Former Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks said; “I am so delighted for Rabbi Mirvis and Rebbetsin Valerie. The Office of the Chief Rabbi is one of the great positions of rabbinic leadership in the Jewish world, one of the most respected, one of the most influential, as well as one of the most challenging. For almost every day of 22 years Elaine and I have felt it an overwhelming privilege to be able to serve so great a community of communities, of wonderful people who give so much to Jewish life and the life of this great country. And now we hand this office to Rabbi Mirvis, we know he will serve it with distinction, wisdom and grace, as he has done throughout his rabbinic career until now. He is the right man in the right job at the right time.”

Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis was appointed 11th Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the UK and the Commonwealth in December 2012. Rabbi Mirvis has earned a reputation as one of the UK’s most respected community Rabbis, until May 2013 serving as the Senior Rabbi at Finchley United Synagogue, (known as Kinloss) a community of well over 1,800 members. In this role since 1996, he has galvanised the community and been responsible for founding pioneering education projects, such as the Kinloss Learning Centre and is the founding Principal of local Primary School, Morasha. As Chief Rabbi of Ireland from 1984 to 1992, Rabbi Mirvis represented the Jewish community to government, other faith communities and the media. He joined the UK Rabbinate in 1992 when he was appointed as successor to Lord Sacks at the prestigious Western Marble Arch Synagogue in London and was appointed to the Chief Rabbi’s Cabinet in 1996.

He was born in 1956 and raised in South Africa. Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis gained a BA in Education and Classical Hebrew from the University of South Africa and received his rabbinic ordination from Machon Ariel, Jerusalem (1978 – 80), having also studied at Herzlia High School, Cape Town (1968 – 73), Yeshivat Kerem BeYavne (1973 – 76) and Yeshivat Har Etzion (1976 – 78).

Rabbi Mirvis has held educational and community positions in Israel, Ireland and the UK. He was the Chief Rabbi of Ireland (1984 – 92), a position previously held by Lord Jakobovits, and Rabbi of the Western Marble Arch Synagogue in London (1992 – 96), a position previously held by Lord Sacks. He has been a member of the Chief Rabbi’s Cabinet since 1996 and was Chairman of the Rabbinical Council of the United Synagogue (1999 – 2002).

Rabbi Mirvis joined the Finchley community (Kinloss) in May 1996. Under his leadership, the congregation has been transformed into a vibrant powerhouse of educational, social, cultural and religious activity and, for the past two years, the fastest growing community in the United Synagogue.

At Kinloss, Rabbi Mirvis is the Founder and Director of the popular community education programme, the Kinloss Learning Centre (KLC), which has attracted hundreds of participants on a weekly basis since 2003 and has been an innovative model that many other communities have adopted. He is also the Founder Rabbi and Honorary Principal of Morasha Jewish Primary School.

Rabbi Mirvis has led many successful campaigns. As Chairman of the Irish National Council for Soviet Jewry (1984 – 1992), he lobbied successfully against the request of Nazi War Criminal, Pieter Menton, to reside in Ireland. He has been Guest Speaker and Scholar-in- Residence at numerous communities and campuses around the globe. He has written articles for newspapers and journals and has often appeared on television and broadcast on radio.

Rabbi Mirvis’ wife, Valerie, is a local authority senior social worker who has carried out Frontline Child Protection for many years. Rabbi and Mrs Mirvis’ eldest child, Liora Graham, passed away in 2011, following a long battle with cancer. They have four sons, Hillel, Daniel, Noam and Eitan, a son-in-law, Jonathan, two daughters-in- law, Melanie and Althea, and several grandchildren.

Sydney’s The Great Synagogue’s Rabbi Jeremy Lawrence told J-Wire: “I have known Chief Rabbi Mirvis for over 20 years. He is a committed leader and dedicated pastor with an excellent track record. I wish him luck”.

Rabbi Ralph Genende from Melbourne’s Caulfield Hebrew Congregation added: “I do not know the Chief Rabbi personally but I do know his wife and I am confident he will be a compassionate and articulate spokesman for the Jewish community.”



Speak Your Mind

Comments received without a full name will not be considered
Email addresses are NEVER published! All comments are moderated. J-Wire will publish considered comments by people who provide a real name and email address. Comments that are abusive, rude, defamatory or which contain offensive language will not be published

Got something to say about this?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.