Harris was born in Glasgow, Scotland. During his tenure as Chief Rabbi, he was noted for his support of full democracy during South Africa's apartheid years. He spoke at the induction ceremony of President Nelson Mandela in 1994, and also gave a blessing at Mandela's wedding to Graça Machel in 1998. Mandela frequently referred to Harris as "my rabbi."
He trained at the Jews College, and served suburban congregations in Kenton and Edgware and finally St Johns Wood from 1979. From 1966 to 1971, Harris also served as Senior Jewish Chaplain to the British Armed Forces.
Chronology of chief rabbis
Bernard M. Casper
|Chief Rabbi of South Africa
- Freedland, Michael (2005-09-16). "Rabbi Cyril Harris". The Guardian.
- staff (2005-09-19). "Rabbi Cyril Harris". London: The Times.
- staff (2005-09-15). "Cyril K. Harris, 68, Chief Rabbi in South Africa". New York Times.
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