Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

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. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Features As Berlin Prices Rise, Israelis Turn East for German Real-Estate Bargains

    As Berlin Prices Rise, Israelis Turn East for German Real-Estate Bargains

    JNS.org – Sonnenallee, a street in Berlin’s Neukölln district, looks like it comes straight out of an Arab city — so much so that it goes by the nickname “Gaza Strip.” Kebab and bakery shops are advertised in Arabic; men sit in men-only coffee shops; and bridal shop windows showcase glittery, not-so-stylish gowns. But take a random turn, and you’ll find a swath of bars, burger joints, and Indian restaurants where hip Berliners announce that they have arrived to urban coolness. […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israeli Actress Gal Gadot Slays in ‘Wonder Woman’ Trailer (VIDEO)

    Israeli Actress Gal Gadot Slays in ‘Wonder Woman’ Trailer (VIDEO)

    Israeli actress Gal Gadot engages in fierce action sequences in the new Wonder Woman trailer, which Warner Bros. premiered during the San Diego Comic-Con on Saturday. The nearly 3-minute trailer, the first to debut for the superhero film, shows scenes of Diana, princess of the Amazons, fighting alongside men in the battle against the world’s toughest enemies. The first shot of the video shows Wonder Woman discovering a man, Steve Trevor (played by actor Chris Pine), washed ashore. The clip then takes viewers to the all-female island where Wonder Woman was born. […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture A Theatrical Look at Diplomacy and the Oslo Accords (REVIEW)

    A Theatrical Look at Diplomacy and the Oslo Accords (REVIEW)

    Is diplomacy worthwhile, even if the end result isn’t what we hoped for? That is the question, among many others, posed by the new play Oslo, by J.T. Rogers. Making its New York debut at Lincoln Center, the play examines the secret diplomatic process that led to the historic 1993 peace accords. The character of Shimon Peres makes an appearance onstage — and he, along with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, tower over the proceedings. But they mainly do so in absentia. Instead, […]

    Read more →
  • Spirituality/Tradition Sports Israeli Trailblazer Dean Kremer Brings Jewish Values to Nascent Pro Baseball Career

    Israeli Trailblazer Dean Kremer Brings Jewish Values to Nascent Pro Baseball Career

    JNS.org – Other than being part of the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, Sandy Koufax and Dean Kremer have something else in common: a respect for Jewish tradition. Koufax — who was recently ranked by ESPN as the best left-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball (MLB) history — decided not to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series because the game fell on Yom Kippur. “I would do the same,” Kremer said in an interview. Last month, the 20-year-old Kremer became […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Lead Guitarist of British Rock Band Queen Asks Adam Lambert to Sing in Hebrew During Upcoming Israel Concert

    Lead Guitarist of British Rock Band Queen Asks Adam Lambert to Sing in Hebrew During Upcoming Israel Concert

    The famed lead guitarist of British rock band Queen, Brian May, encouraged Jewish singer-songwriter Adam Lambert to perform in Hebrew during their upcoming joint concert in Israel, an entertainment industry advocacy organization reported on Tuesday. During a recent interview with Israeli television personality Assi Azar, May was played a 2005 video of Lambert singing the popular song Shir L’Shalom, (Song for Peace). May was so impressed by Lambert’s singing of the Hebrew track that he told the American singer, “We have to do that. Let’s […]

    Read more →
  • Sports Kenyan Marathoner to Compete for Israel in Rio Olympics

    Kenyan Marathoner to Compete for Israel in Rio Olympics

    JNS.org – Kenyan-born marathoner Lonah Chemtai is expected to compete for Israel at the Olympics Games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil next month after gaining a last minute approval. “I am very proud [to represent Israel] and I hope to achieve a new personal best time,” Chemtai told Reuters. Chemtai, who grew up a rural village in western Kenya, first came to Israel in 2009 to care of the children of her country’s ambassador to Israel. The 27-year-old runner recently gained […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity Will Laughs Lead to Love on Show About Orthodox Dating?

    Will Laughs Lead to Love on Show About Orthodox Dating?

    To date or not to date? That is not the question for most Modern Orthodox singles in New York. The question is when will they find their future spouses, and when will their families stop nagging them about having babies? Inspired by the success of the Israeli show “Srugim,” Leah Gottfried, 25, decided she would create and star in her own show, “Soon By You.” “Dating is so serious already,” Gottfried said. “We wanted to take a lighter approach and laugh at the […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israeli Actress Says Playing Muslim Character in ‘Tyrant’ Has Made Her More ‘Hopeful, Humble’

    Israeli Actress Says Playing Muslim Character in ‘Tyrant’ Has Made Her More ‘Hopeful, Humble’

    Israeli actress Moran Atias said that playing a Muslim woman in the hit FX series Tyrant has changed her outlook. “Educating myself about a different culture has made me more hopeful and humble, that we’re all the same,” the Jewish actress, 35, said during an interview with AOL Build. Atias plays Leila Al-Fayeed, the strong and politically minded wife of the president of Abbudin, a fictional Middle Eastern country run by a dictatorial family. The Israeli-born former model, who earned the title of Miss Globe International […]

    Read more →