Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis is only the 11th Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth since the office was introduced in 1704. Chief Rabbi Mirvis was installed on 1 September 2013 in an historic ceremony attended by HRH The Prince of Wales, the first time that a member of the Royal Family has attended a service for the Installation of a Chief Rabbi. Chief Rabbi Mirvis succeeds Lord Sacks.
Background and Education
Born in 1956 into a Rabbinical family in South Africa, Chief Rabbi Mirvis studied at Herzlia High School, Cape Town (1968 – 73), Yeshivat Kerem BeYavne (1973 – 76) and Yeshivat Har Etzion (1976 – 78). He received his Rabbinic ordination from Machon Ariel, Jerusalem (1978 – 80) and gained a BA in Education and Classical Hebrew from the University of South Africa. He also received certification from the Yaacov Herzog Teachers College as a high school teacher in Israel.
Chief Rabbi Mirvis has held educational and community positions in Israel, Ireland and the UK. His first position was Rabbi of the Dublin Hebrew Congregation (1982 – 84). He was the Chief Rabbi of Ireland (1984 – 92), a position previously held by Lord Jakobovits, and Rabbi of the Western Marble Arch Synagogue in London (1992 – 96), a position previously held by Lord Sacks. Chief Rabbi Mirvis was appointed Senior Rabbi at Finchley United Synagogue (known as Kinloss) in 1996, a position which he held until becoming Chief Rabbi in 2013.
Chief Rabbi Mirvis has earned a reputation as one of the UK’s most respected community Rabbis. In Finchley he galvanised the community, founding pioneering education projects such as the Kinloss Learning Centre (KLC). He is also the founder Rabbi and Honorary Principal of Morasha Jewish Primary School in Finchley, as well as founder and President of the Kinloss Community Kollel. Chief Rabbi Mirvis transformed the Finchley community into a vibrant centre of educational, social, cultural and religious activity, becoming the fastest growing community in the United Synagogue.
Chief Rabbi 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.
Chief Rabbi 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.
As Chief Rabbi of Ireland from 1984 to 1992, Chief Rabbi Mirvis represented the Jewish community to government, other faith communities and the media. As Chairman of the Irish National Council for Soviet Jewry (1984 – 1992) he advocated for the freedom of Soviet Jewry. He lobbied successfully against the request of Nazi War Criminal, Pieter Menton, to reside in Ireland.
Chief Rabbi Mirvis has now assumed the role of Associate President of the Conference of European Rabbis. He had previously been a member of the steering committee of the Conference of European Rabbis. He was appointed to the Chief Rabbi’s Cabinet in 1996 and was Chairman of the Rabbinical Council of the United Synagogue (1999 – 2002).
In 2012 Chief Rabbi Mirvis appointed the United Kingdom’s first female halachic adviser (Yo’etzet Halacha) at Finchley Synagogue.
Chief Rabbi Mirvis has an interest in music and has learned voice and chazanut (Jewish cantorial music) in Jerusalem. He is also a trained Shochet (expert on ritual slaughter) and Mohel (circumcision practitioner).
Chief Rabbi Mirvis is the son of Rabbi Dr Lionel Mirvis and the late Freida Mirvis. His wife, Valerie, is a local authority senior social worker who has carried out Frontline Child Protection for many years and now works in adoption. Chief Rabbi and Mrs Mirvis’s eldest child, Liora Graham, passed away in 2011, following a long battle with cancer. They have four sons, Hillel, Daniel, Noam and Eitan, a son-in-law, Jonathan, two daughters-in-law, Melanie and Althea, and seven grandchildren.