Ephraim Mirvis

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Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis
Position Chief Rabbi
Organisation United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth
Began 1 September 2013
Predecessor The Lord Sacks
Personal details
Birth name Ephraim Mirvis
Born 1956
Johannesburg, South Africa
Nationality South African, British
Denomination Orthodox
Residence Finchley, London
Parents Lionel and Freida Mirvis
Spouse Valerie Kaplan Mirvis
Children Liora, Hillel, Daniel, Noam and Eitan
Alma mater University of South Africa
Semicha Machon Ariel, Jerusalem

Ephraim Mirvis (born 1956) is an Orthodox rabbi who serves as the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth. He is a Talmudic scholar having studied in Israeli yeshivot. He was born near Johannesburg, South Africa. He currently lives with his wife in Finchley, London. In December 2012 he was designated as the next Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth and began work in this post on 1 September 2013. He was Senior Rabbi to the Finchley Synagogue, regarded to be a strongly pastoral leader, with a focus on traditional Judaism. He previously served as the Chief Rabbi of Ireland.

Early life and education[edit]

Mirvis was born in a hospital outside Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1956, the son of Rabbi Dr. Lionel and Freida Mirvis. His father was the rabbi of the Claremont and the Wynberg Hebrew Congregations in Cape Town. His grandfather, Rev Lazar Mirvis, was a Jewish minister in Johannesburg.[1][2]

Mirvis attended Herzlia High School in Cape Town from 1968 to 1973. After moving to Israel in 1973, Mirvis learned at Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh from 1973 to 1976 and Yeshivat Har Etzion from 1976 to 1978. He studied at Machon Ariel in Jerusalem from 1978 to 1980 and received his rabbinic ordination there.[1][2]

At the same time, Mirvis obtained a BA in Education and Classical Hebrew from the University of South Africa and received certification from Yaakov Herzog Teachers College as a high school teacher in Israel.[2]

Mirvis has a deep interest in music and has learned voice and Jewish cantorial music in Jerusalem. He has also been certified as a shochet and mohel.[1][2] He is a supporter of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.[3]

Career[edit]

Rabbinical appointments[edit]

In 1982, Mirvis was appointed Rabbi of Dublin's Adelaide Road Synagogue and Chief Rabbi of Ireland in 1985, serving at this post until 1992.[1]

From 1992 to 1996 he was the rabbi of the Western Marble Arch Synagogue in London, after the previous holder of the position, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, became Chief Rabbi in 1991.[1][2]

In May 1996, Mirvis was appointed rabbi at the Finchley United Synagogue, also known as Kinloss, in London. Here he founded and directed the community-based, adult education programme, the Kinloss Learning Centre, which has drawn hundreds of participants on a weekly basis since 2003 and has served as an educational model emulated by other communities. Mirvis is the founder rabbi and honorary principal of Morasha Jewish Primary School and founder and President of the Kinloss Community Kollel.[1][2][4]

Other positions held[edit]

While living in Ireland, Mirvis was Chairman of the Board of Governors of Stratford Jewish Schools, in Dublin, from 1984 to 1992.

Since 1986, Mirvis has been a member of the Steering Committee of the Conference of European Rabbis. In 1992, he arranged and hosted the Biennial Conference of European Rabbis at the Western Marble Arch Synagogue and in 2001, he arranged and led the first group visit by United Synagogue rabbis to the United States.[2]

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, on the Steering Committee of the Encounter Conference and the Singer’s Prayer Book Publications Committee.[2]

He has been a member of the Chief Rabbi’s Cabinet since 1996 and was Chairman of the Rabbinical Council of the United Synagogue from 1999 to 2002.[2]

Interfaith collaboration[edit]

Mirvis served as the President of the Irish Council of Christians and Jews (CCJ) from 1985 to 1992. He has participated in dialogue with Church leaders in the UK at Windsor Castle and Lambeth Palace. In 2005 he addressed a CCJ meeting at the Synod of the Church of England.[2]

Mirvis was the first United Synagogue rabbi to host an address by an imam, Dr. Mohammed Essam El-Din Fahim, in his synagogue. He has also led a delegation of members of his community to the Finchley Mosque and initiated a joint project between his synagogue and the mosque for a Jewish-Muslim public service day on 25 December.[2]

Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom[edit]

Mirvis was named the successor to Lord Sacks as Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth on 17 December 2012. Mirvis took office on 1 September 2013.[1][5]

The announcement of Mirvis’s appointment came more than two years after the incumbent Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks’s retirement date was announced on 13 December 2010. The United Synagogue organisation had intended to name the new chief rabbi by Rosh Hashanah in 2012, and Mirvis was the long-time favourite for the role, but the selection procedure took months longer than expected.[1]

His appointment was welcomed by the Conference of European Rabbis.

Jeremy Newmark, chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council in the UK, called the appointment “immensely popular.”[5]

Laura Janner-Klausner, the head rabbi of the Movement for Reform Judaism in Great Britain, said: "I welcome the appointment of Mirvis as another powerful voice for British Jewry. I look forward to working closely with him as a partner on areas of common interests to the Jewish and wider community."[5]

The Orthodox Union in the United States also welcomed Mirvis’s selection as the Chief Rabbi.[6]

Views and advocacy[edit]

Mirvis is a supporter of the State of Israel. As Chief Rabbi of Ireland and before the opening of an Israeli embassy in Ireland, he represented Israel’s interests at government level and in the media. In 1999, he led a group of British rabbis on a solidarity trip to Israel. Since 1997, he has hosted the annual Bnei Akiva Yom Ha'atzmaut service at Finchley synagogue.[2]

Mirvis was an advocate for the freedom of Soviet Jewry as Chairman of the Irish National Council for Soviet Jewry between 1984 and 1992. In 1986 he lobbied successfully against the request of Nazi war criminal, Pieter Menten, to reside in Ireland. On local matters, he has led a campaign to have safe pedestrian crossings installed at Henlys Corner, near Finchley Synagogue, finally winning the approval of the Mayor of London and Transport for London for an improvement scheme.[2]

Mirvis has also supported some expanding of women's roles in Orthodox Judaism. In 2012 he appointed Lauren Levin as Britain’s first Orthodox female halakhic adviser, at Finchley Synagogue in London.[7]

Awards and recognition[edit]

Mirvis received the Jerusalem Prize for Education in the Diaspora in 1990, on behalf of the Stratford Jewish Schools, from the President of Israel, Chaim Herzog.[2]

Family[edit]

Mirvis married Zimbabwe-born Valerie Kaplan, in Israel. They have four sons, Hillel, Daniel, Noam and Eitan, and seven grandchildren. Their eldest child, Liora Graham, died of cancer in 2011.[2]

Valerie Mirvis was a frontline Child Protection Social Worker until May 2012, when she moved to adoption work. She is a published author and healthcare specialist.[1]

Mirvis's cousin is bestselling American-Jewish novelist, Tova Mirvis.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Frazer, Jenni (17 December 2012), "Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis to be next UK chief rabbi", The Jewish Chronicle, retrieved 2012-12-18 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis - Finchley Synagogue". Local communities. United Synagogue. 2008. Retrieved 2012-12-18. 
  3. ^ BBC Religion and Ethics, 30 August 2013
  4. ^ "Education". Kinloss. 2011. Retrieved 2012-12-19. 
  5. ^ a b c Shaviv, Miriam (17 December 2012), "UK Jewry names its next chief rabbi", The Times of Israel, retrieved 2012-12-18 
  6. ^ "OU Statement on Selection of Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis as Next Chief Rabbi of the British Commonwealth". Baltimore Jewish Life. 18 December 2012. Retrieved 2012-12-18. 
  7. ^ Dysch, Marcus (20 December 2012). "Synagogue appoints first female halachic adviser". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 21 April 2013. 
Jewish titles
Preceded by
David Rosen
Chief Rabbi of Ireland
1985–1992
Succeeded by
Gavin Broder
Preceded by
Lord Sacks
Chief Rabbi of Great Britain and the Commonwealth Incumbent