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New UK chief rabbi to be installed

Source BBC News@ tienganhvui.com




Chief Rabbi designate Ephraim Mirvis: "The challenges are enormous, we have to empathise with everybody in society who is vulnerable"



Ephraim Mirvis is due to be installed as the new chief rabbi of the UK and Commonwealth at a ceremony in London.


The former chief rabbi of Ireland will succeed Lord Jonathan Sacks, who has held the post since 1991.


The Prince of Wales is due to join Jewish and other faith leaders for the event at St John's Wood Synagogue.


The chief rabbi is traditionally seen as the figurehead of British Jews and Rabbi Mirvis has said reversing falling membership was a key challenge.


However, his new role is only officially representative of the United Synagogue, the biggest wing of orthodox Judaism in the UK.


Some Liberal and Reform Jews have questioned his role, while the ultra-orthodox community looks elsewhere for religious authority.


In a BBC interview ahead of taking up the role, Rabbi Mirvis said: "As the incoming chief rabbi I extend a hand of warmth, of friendship, to my colleagues who are in movements outside of the orthodox movement and with all of their members.


"I would like them to know that I would like to work closely with them. Unity of the Jewish people is of enormous importance.


"Within our own ranks we need to build on that which unites us and not to concentrate so much on that which separates us. And I will do my utmost to ensure that we will indeed achieve that unity."


He has also said that he would like to "transform communities" so that synagogues "are not merely places where people come along to pray, but rather that they should be powerhouses of Jewish cultural social educational and religious activity".


Rabbi Mirvis, who was born in South Africa in 1956, is currently rabbi at Finchley Synagogue in north London.


He is married to Valerie, a local authority senior social worker, and they have four sons. Their daughter, Liora Graham, died in 2011 after a long battle with cancer.


Rabbi Mirvis was a rabbi in Dublin before becoming Ireland's chief rabbi in 1985, a post he held until 1992. He was chosen as the new chief rabbi after a two year search.





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