Some immediate thoughts on the recommendation of the search committee that Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis should be appointed next Chief Rabbis of the United Hebrew Congregations (British and Commonwealth Orthodoxy).
Mazal Tov – meant both in the sense of congratulation and good luck with the task to come. I wish Rabbi Mirvis every blessing for success. I offer my support in anything I can do to promote Achdut Yishrael – a coming together of Israel – alongside his leadership of the United Synagogue.
Three brief observations.
I don’t know Rabbi Mirvis personally, but his community is a powerhouse; growing and vibrant across the fullest sense of what a Shul ought to be. He’s a community Rabbi, community Rabbis get their hands dirty, it’s not an aloof life predicated on theory.
My sense, from the outside, is that there is a plurality of opportunity within the community. There are different Minyanim, pursuing different customs and aimed at different kinds of Jews. It’s a community which empowers its members. That’s a marked shift from the overly centralised United Synagogue of previous incumbents.
Rabbi Mirvis is not a PhD. I don’t think one should read too much into the matter. He’s clearly highly intelligent and learned, but this appointment is an endorsement of focussing on ‘real people’ – the Jew in the pew – rather than the glittering ivory towers of academia and the expectations of the non-Jewish world.
He faces many challenges. If he can inspire the United Synagogue with the same success and energy that he has brought to Finchley United Synagogue – ‘Kinloss’ - in these past years he will do mighty things not only for the United Synagogue, but Am Yisrael – the People of Israel and our broader society also. May he be blessed with the kindness, the learning and the courage to be that force for goodness, holiness and change.