Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, formerly Chief Rabbi of Ireland, will replace retiring Rabbi Jonathan Sacks as Britain’s Chief Rabbi. Rabbi Sacks, who also is in the House of Lords, will retire next year after 11 years in office.
"The Chief Rabbinate Trust can this evening confirm that the consultative group has endorsed a recommendation by the working group to appoint Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis as the 11th chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, subject to appropriate contractual agreement," the Chief Rabbinate Trust said in a statement Monday evening.
The appointment comes after a lengthy search that extended as far as the United States, where two leading rabbis were considered as candidates.
Rabbi Mirvis is a native South African and serves as rabbi of the Finchley Synagogue in north London, one of the largest synagogues in the country. He the son and grandson of rabbis, is married and has four sons.
In Britain as in Israel, non-Orthodox streams of Judaism are challenging the Chief Rabbi’s authority, particular on issues such as homosexuality, which the Torah explicitly prohibits.
Succeeding Rabbi Sacks will be a challenge for Rabbi Mirvis because the outgoing Chief Rabbi was highly popular among Britons, including the royalty, and is considered an eloquent speaker.
Rabbi Mirvis also will be missed by his Finchley synagogue.
“The congregation is torn. They know he is the best candidate to be chief rabbi. But they will miss him desperately. They think he is irreplaceable,” one member of the synagogue told the London Jewish Chronicle.
Outgoing Rabbi Sacks' Torah portion essay Covenant & Conversation is a weekly and much read feature in Arutz Sheva's Judaism section.who frequently contributes to Arutz Sheva.