New British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis
New British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis Israel news photo: Rabbincal Center of Europe

The newly instated British Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis has announced that he will attend the educational cross-communal conference.

The Previous Chief Rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks had stayed away from Limmud after being appointed to the position.

Limmud was created in 1980 modeled on the Conference on Alternatives in Jewish Education of North America and brought together representatives from different Jewish streams. Although originally intended as a seminar for educators, the conference later developed into a popular event with some 2,500 participants among them many from the orthodox community, attending each year.

Limmud is supported by some orthodox rabbis in the UK, with many including Senior Dayan (Judge) Chanoch Ehrentreu among those voicing opposition to orthodox rabbis attending events where non-orthodox rabbis were among the presenters.

Rabbi Mirvis who officially took over from Rabbi Sacks last month said:

"I am very pleased to be participating at Limmud Conference this year. As I said in my installation address, one of my primary functions is as teacher of the community. I see Limmud as an opportunity to teach Torah to large numbers of people who want to learn.”

Steve Pack, President of the United Synagogue, the largest organization of orthodox synagogue's in the UK,  supported Rabbi Mirvis' statement.

“I wholeheartedly welcome the Chief Rabbi’s decision to participate at Limmud Conference. Limmud is one of Anglo-Jewry’s greatest achievements and exports, and conference presents a fantastic opportunity for teaching Torah. I know that participants will enjoy hearing from the Chief Rabbi and benefit from learning with him.”

A spokesman for the London Beth Din said that the dayanim (judges) remained "seriously concerned that the attendance of Orthodox rabbis at Limmud blurs the distinction between authentic Orthodox and non-Orthodox Jewish beliefs and practices."

The Spokesman added however that the Beth Din had "every confidence" in the new chief rabbi and offefred him "every support."

An exclusively orthodox learning seminar named 'Encounter' ran for nine years before winding down as many orthodox Jews preferred to attend the Limmud cross-communal event instead.

Responses to the Chief Rabbi's announcement varied from surprise to criticism with most visitors to Rabbi Mirvis' Facebook page voicing support for his decision.