Britain’s United Synagogue Announces Next Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis

December 17, 2012 4:02 pm 3 comments

Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis. Photo: Kinloss.

Britain’s United Synagogue has announced that Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis will replace Lord Jonathan Sacks in the role of Commonwealth Chief Rabbi upon the latter’s upcoming retirement according to the Jewish Chronicle.

“This is an immensely popular appointment that has already been welcomed across the community,” Jeremy Newmark, Chief Executive of Britain’s Jewish Leadership Council told The Algemeiner.

The website for the Finchley Synagogue, often referred to as Kinloss, where Rabbi Mirvis is currently the spiritual leader provided the following biographical description:

Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis joined our community in May 1996. Prior to that, he 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).

At Kinloss, Rabbi Mirvis is the Founder and Director of our 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 the Founder Rabbi and Hon Principal of Morasha Jewish Primary School and Founder and President of our newly established Kinloss Community Kollel. He was Editor of the United Synagogue weekly, Daf Hashavua, for five years (2001 – 2006).

Rabbi Mirvis was Chairman of the Board of Governors of Stratford Jewish Schools, Dublin (1984 – 92). In 1990 he received, on behalf of the school, the Jerusalem Prize for Education in the Diaspora from President Herzog at a ceremony in Beit Hanassi, Jerusalem.

Rabbi Mirvis was President of the Irish Council of Christians and Jews (1985 – 1992). In 1986 he hosted the Biennial Conference of the International Council of Christians and Jews in Dublin. He has participated in high-level dialogues with Church leaders in the UK in meetings at Windsor Castle and Lambeth Palace. In 2005 he addressed a landmark CCJ meeting at the Synod of the Church of England.

Rabbi Mirvis was the first United Synagogue Rabbi to host an address by an Imam, Dr Mohammed Essam El-Din Fahim, in his Synagogue. Recently, he led a delegation of members of his community to the Finchley Mosque and he has initiated a joint project between his Synagogue and the Mosque for this year’s Mitzvah Day.

Rabbi Mirvis has been a member of the Steering Committee of the Conference of European Rabbis (1986 onwards). In 1992, he arranged and hosted the Biennial Conference of European Rabbis at the Western Marble Arch Synagogue. In 2001, he arranged and led the first ever group visit by United Synagogue Rabbis to America, when 10 London Rabbis spent 10 days visiting American communities.

Passionate about Israel, Rabbi Mirvis frequently represented Israel’s interests at Government level and in the media, during his spell as Chief Rabbi of Ireland (at the time there was no Israeli Embassy there). In 1999, he led a group of UK Rabbis on a solidarity trip to Israel. Since 1997, he has hosted the annual Bnei Akiva Yom Ha’atzmaut Service at Finchley Synagogue, always attended by well over 1,000 people.

Rabbi Mirvis has been the Religious Advisor to the Jewish Marriage Council since 1997. He has served on the Council of the London School of Jewish Studies (LSJS), on the Steering Committee of the Encounter Conference and the Singers Prayer Book Publications Committee

Born and raised in South Africa, Rabbi Mirvis gained a BA in Education and Classical Hebrew from the University of South Africa. He received his Semicha 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). He is qualified as a teacher in Israeli High Schools (Yaakov Herzog Teachers Institute) and also qualified as a shochet and mohel. Rabbi Mirvis is a great lover of music. He studied voice production for five years in Jerusalem with renowned tenor, Yakov Roden.

Rabbi Mirvis has led many successful campaigns. He was Chairman of the Irish National Council for Soviet Jewry (1984 – 1992). In 1986 he lobbied successfully against the request of Nazi War Criminal, Pieter Menton, to reside in Ireland. More recently, he led a lengthy and determined campaign to have safe pedestrian crossings installed at Henlys Corner, near Finchley Synagogue. The Mayor of London and TfL finally responded with the highly successful, multi-million pound Henlys Corner improvement scheme.

Rabbi Mirvis has been Guest Speaker and Scholar in Residence at numerous communities and campuses around the globe. He has written many articles for newspapers and journals and has often appeared on television and broadcast on radio.

Rabbi Mirvis’ wife, Valerie, is a Senior Social Worker who carried out Frontline Child Protection for many years. In May 2012, she moved to a Statutory Adoption Team. She has lectured on Healthcare Communications Skills to doctors, medical students, healthcare professionals, hospital chaplains and Rabbis since 1997. She is the author of “Please Don’t Break My Other Leg! A Guide to Empathising with Patients”, which was published in English in 2001 and in Chinese in 2004.

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 five grandchildren, Kinneret, Elitzur, Naama, Refael and Tamara.

The Finchley Synagogue is one of the biggest congregations in London according to the Jewish Chronicle.

3 Comments

  • A hearty Mazal Tov to Rabbi Ephraim Mervis and a particular mention and Mazal Tov to his father Rabbi Lionel Mervis. Proudly South African.

    Mark and Beulah Hyman
    Glenhazel, Johannesburg, South Africa

    Formerly of Benoni, South Africa, the birthplace and original home of the Mervis family.

  • Barry Francis Norman

    Fascinating. What role has Rabbi Mirvis played in bringing all parts of Anglo-Jewry together. There’s reference to him being the first of US Rabbonim to host an Imam, has he hosted Rabbonim from neighbouring progressive communities?

    • Barry Norman makes a good point. Wonder if he will get a reply from Rabbi Mirvis.

      Nevertheless Mirvis is an excellent choice for Chief.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Book Reviews Personalities Biography Sheds New Light on David Ben-Gurion’s Place in Jewish History

    Biography Sheds New Light on David Ben-Gurion’s Place in Jewish History

    JNS.org – There is one sentence in “Ben-Gurion: Father of Modern Israel” that made me sit up in surprise. I thought that I knew the basic facts about how Israel came into being, but while describing what it was like in the days and hours before the state was declared, author Anita Shapira provides one important anecdote I was not aware of. On the 12th of May, the Zionist Executive met to decide what to do. Moshe Sharrett had just returned [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Actress Compares Met Opera to ‘Schindler’s List’

    ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Actress Compares Met Opera to ‘Schindler’s List’

    An actress starring in the controversial Met Opera The Death of Klinghoffer defended the show on Tuesday by comparing it to the 1993 Holocaust film Schindler’s List, New York Post reported. “To me, this was like [the movie] Schindler’s List. We make art so people won’t forget,’’ said the actress, who plays a captured passenger in the show and asked not to be identified. The Met Opera focuses on the infamous murder of Lower East Side Jewish resident Leon Klinghoffer, 69. The wheelchair-bound father of [...]

    Read more →
  • Analysis Arts and Culture Beyond ‘Klinghoffer’: Opera’s Composer, Librettist Have Broader Jewish Problem

    Beyond ‘Klinghoffer’: Opera’s Composer, Librettist Have Broader Jewish Problem

    JNS.org – One of the most controversial operas in recent memory, “The Death of Klinghoffer,” debuted Oct. 20 at New York’s Metropolitan Opera. The Met has scheduled seven more performances through November. The first staging did not occur without protest, as about 400 demonstrators—including Jewish communal and nationally recognized leaders—came to Lincoln Center to denounce the anti-Jewish and anti-Israel opera. “Klinghoffer,” the creation of composer John Adams and librettist Alice Goodman, premiered in 1991—with few additional stagings. The opera is based [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Israeli Actress Gal Gadot in Talks to Star in Ben-Hur Remake

    Israeli Actress Gal Gadot in Talks to Star in Ben-Hur Remake

    Israeli actress Gal Gadot is in negotiations to take on the female lead role in the remake of the 1959 classic Ben-Hur, according to The Hollywood Reporter. If the deal is finalized Gadot will play Esther, a slave and Ben-Hur’s love interest. Actor Jack Huston will star as the Jewish prince who is betrayed into slavery by his childhood friend Messala, played by Toby Kebbell. Ben-Hur fights for his freedom and vengeance with the help of Morgan Freeman’s character, who trains Ben-Hur how to win at chariot-racing. [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Young Israelis Try to Crowd-Fund Their Way to Major League Baseball Playoffs

    Young Israelis Try to Crowd-Fund Their Way to Major League Baseball Playoffs

    JNS.org – Baseball, hot dogs, and apple pie are the American dream. So why do two young men who have built their lives in Israel have a GoFundMe crowd-funding webpage with the urgent message that they need $3,000 to travel to the U.S. to watch the Kansas City Royals and Baltimore Orioles square off for Major League Baseball’s (MLB) American League championship? Brothers Naftali and Yoni Schwartz, 27 and 25, respectively, are Kansas City natives. Even though they made aliyah with their [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Sports Race Cars Speed Through Jerusalem in Amazing Exhibition

    Race Cars Speed Through Jerusalem in Amazing Exhibition

    Some 3,000 years ago, King David probably never imagined cars racing at 240 kilometers per hour (150 miles per hour) through the ancient capital of the Jewish people. But on Monday and Tuesday, October 6-7, thousands of Israelis lined the streets to watch Porsche, Audi, and Ferrari race cars fly through the capital against the backdrop of the Tower of David, the Old City Walls, and other city landmarks. The second annual non-competitive Jerusalem Formula One Road Show had been [...]

    Read more →
  • Israel Sports NBA Superstar LeBron James Says He Wants to Visit Israel

    NBA Superstar LeBron James Says He Wants to Visit Israel

    Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James expressed interest in visiting Israel someday, local news site Cleveland.com reported on Sunday. Speaking to Israeli reporters before the Cleveland Cavaliers’ preseason debut against Maccabi Tel Aviv, the NBA star said he had never visited the Jewish state but “I want to look forward to going there if I get an opportunity to.” When asked by an Israeli reporter if there was “any chance that LeBron James and Cleveland comes to Tel Aviv,” the athlete said [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Florida Rabbi Dominates Former Basketball Star Congressman in Hoops Showdown (VIDEO)

    Florida Rabbi Dominates Former Basketball Star Congressman in Hoops Showdown (VIDEO)

    A Florida-based Chabad rabbi put former basketball star, U.S. Congressman Curt Clawson to shame on the court when the two faced off one-on-one recently. A YouTube video, posted online on Tuesday, shows Rabbi Fishel Zaklos of Chabad of Naples shooting hoops with the Florida politician, who played basketball in high school and at Purdue University in Indiana. The game took place in the parking lot of the Chabad Jewish center run by Zaklos. During the 1-minute clip, Zaklos scores two impressive [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.