The next Chief Rabbi of Great Britain said that he fears anti-Semitism may spread from the rest of Europe to Great Britain. In an interview with BBC’s Radio 4 on Sunday, Ephraim Mirvis said that “There are rising trends on the continent and we do have a fear for the future that some of this will spread to the UK,” though he did preface the statement by saying Britain had a good record on combating anti-Semitism.
Mirvis, who is the former Chief Rabbi of Ireland, will take over for Lord Jonathan Sacks, who has been serving in the post since 1991. The role is traditionally seen as that of a figurehead, representing the 70,000-strong United Synagogue – the biggest wing of orthodox Judaism in the UK – and other communities across the UK and parts of the Commonwealth.
Rabbi Mirvis added: “We are delighted that anti-Semitism is seen here not as being a problem only for the Jews, it’s a problem for society and it is part of overall racism.”
Speaking of anti-Israel sentiment in Britain, Rabbi Mirvis was less unequivocal in his condemnation: “There are sometimes attacks on Israel which at their base arise out of anti-Semitism, and sometimes that’s not the case.”
Addressing divisions between the Orthodox Jewish and Reform Jewish communities, Rabbi Mirvis said: “There is some division but there are many areas in which we are working in a very cohesive way.
“My track record is that I have always sought to work with warmth and in a constructive way with the leaders of other components of the Jewish faith.”