By Simon Rocker
October 20, 2013
Will the Charedi attack on Chief Rabbi Mirvis’s decision to go to Limmud have any long-term repercussions?
United Synagogue president Steve Pack doubts whether it will have “great impact” and believes “it is not a massive issue for Rabbi Mirvis – I think it will fade into the ether relatively soon.”
But one rabbi I spoke felt that it will strain the new Chief Rabbi’s relations with the right at the very time he might have hoped to be building bridges.
The initiative for the anti-Limmud declaration, I understand, came from the head of the Gateshead Yeshivah, Rabbi Avrohom Gurwicz. The yeshivah has been the alma mater of many US rabbis down the years and wields considerable clout.
The Gateshead Rav, Rabbi Shraga Faivel Zimmerman – who was one of the seven signatories of the declaration – said that most of them were not people who made public statements. But Rabbi Gurwicz, he told me, felt “since this is an issue of emunah [faith], it was something that had to be clarified”.
Rabbi Zimmerman said the statement reflected “the commonly held principles of every Torah scholar in this country”.
He also cited a comment made by former Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks in a book to the effect that for pluralism to succeed, Orthodoxy must fail.
“We are very concerned that Orthodoxy shouldn’t fail,” Rabbi Zimmerman said. “We are a people who have a great concern about the future of Anglo-Jewry. Although some of us live far away and some of us might dress differently than the average United Synagogue member, nevertheless we are involved in their lives and are very concerned about it.”
I doubt that the declaration will have much effect on the ordinary US congregant. But it clearly will exert pressure on some US rabbis who might have been wavering about whether to go to Limmud or not.
It certainly ups the ante. If United Synagogue rabbis want to demonstrate their support for Rabbi Mirvis, they will be expected to do so by following him to Limmud in respectable numbers.