Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis will succeed Rabbi Jonathan Sacks as the United Kingdom’s next chief rabbi, the Chief Rabbinate Trust announced the evening of Dec. 17 in a statement on the Chief Rabbi’s website.
Rabbi Mirvis will become the next head of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, which represents more than 50 percent of the total synagogue membership in the UK and is the largest group of Orthodox Jews in the United Kingdom, according to the online application packet for the chief rabbi position. The trust is a charity that is the chief rabbi’s official employer.
The chief rabbi does not have any religious authority over other movements, such as Masorti/Conservative or Reform. According to the application form, the chief rabbi’s duties include being the spiritual leader of bodies that recognize the office’s authority; being a spokesman for Orthodox Judaism and Judaism generally; engaging in interfaith activities and advocating for Israel.
“In conducting these duties, the Chief Rabbi will be expected to behave with absolute personal and professional integrity, and to maintain and encourage proper, and correct behaviour among all other members of the Rabbinate, other staff and general membership of all bodies under his aegis,” the packet says.
While one committee has recommended Rabbi Mirvis and another has endorsed him, the appointment is still subject to an agreement on his contract. More details will follow in a fuller statement, the trust said.
Rabbi Sacks, who served as Chief Rabbi for 22 years, was the tenth to hold the office.
Rabbi Aaron Hart, who took office in 1704, was England’s first chief rabbi.
Previously chief rabbi of Ireland, Rabbi Mirvis was born in South Africa and is senior rabbi at Finchley Synagogue in London. He is married with four children.
Unlike the United States, many countries and even some cities have chief rabbis; often, a community will have two chief rabbis, one Ashkenazi and one Sephardi, as in Israel.