The Chief Rabbi at Limmud

By Simon Rocker
September 17, 2013

Now that Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis has taken the decision to go to the Limmud conference himself, it will be interesting to see how many of his rabbis follow suit.

The dearth of central Orthodox rabbis at British Jewry’s most celebrated education event has long been a gripe among United Synagogue Limmud-goers.

While the floodgates might not quite open, expect an increasing Orthodox rabbis now to make the trip to Warwick University in December.

The London Beth Din clearly retains its doubts about the cross-communal event and is not about to give Limmud its blessing.

But, critically, the dayanim have indicated that they respect the chief rabbi’s viewpoint, even if they don’t share it.

Not that the boycott of Limmud by many rabbis has deterred US congregants from flocking there.

Some years ago, even the London Beth Din was willing to explore options that might allow them to approve the participation of Orthodox rabbis. It was suggested, for instance, that some special Orthodox-only speaker programme could be timetabled within the conference – a kind of Orthodox zone. But Limmud leaders at the time were unwilling to play ball, regarding that as against the open spirit of the event.

The details of Rabbi Mirvis’s appearance have yet to be finalised – when and on what he will speak.

I would be surprised if he were to go so far as to share an educational platform with a non-Orthodox rabbi.

When asked, for instance, in a BBC interview if he would set foot in a non-Orthodox synagogue, he trod cautiously around the question. “There are many ways in which we can express friendship and togetherness," he replied, "and as the incoming chief rabbi, I extend a hand of warmth and friendship to my colleagues who are in movements outside of the Orthodox movements.”

In his installation address he talked of the need for greater Jewish unity. His presence at Limmud will be widely welcomed as a step in the right direction.



Wed, 09/25/2013 - 13:19

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the recent bbc radio 4 programme "OBJ's Guide to the Middle East" was intended to be a "sideways look" and "anarchic guide", featuring bbc journalist Owen Bennet-Jones, professor of politics Baroness Haleh Afshar, and former middle east ambassador Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles

on the issue of iran's nuclear program, the humour was supplied by baroness afshar complaining about israel's "expansionism" and "long history of invading their neighbours", and about the "israeli lobby" that presidents "depend on too heavily", and sir sherard getting so fed up with her that he shut her up

OBJ (0:16:48): "The Israelis would say that they are a very small country, they are uniquely vulnerable, because they are surrounded by countries that are very hostile, and many people don't think they should exist"
BHA (0:17:04): "But they also have a long history of invading their neighbours, and it seems to me that for them to say they won't use their nuclear weapon is another assertion, as they always said [interrupted]"
OBJ (0:17:15): "But there's no suggestion they would use it for anything other than national survival?"
BHA (0:17:18): "Well, I have no idea [interrupted] expansionism, exactly!"
BHA (0:19:07): "The difficulty is that the Israeli lobby in America is far too strong, and too many Presidents depend on it too heavily.…"
OBJ (0:19:21): "But let's be clear about this, Israel sees Iran as a major threat."
SCC (0:19:24): "As an existential threat, absolutely."
BHA (0:19:27): "Well it might well be" [interrupted by SCC:]
SCC (0:19:28): "We're granting you that."

Chaim Pesach

Fri, 10/11/2013 - 09:32

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Now that Dayan Eherentrau and his seven mates have come out against Limmud participation, I wonder if the Movement rabbi of the United Synagogue will retreat a bit.
Let's not forget that his predecessor started with good intentions - the communal walk in the park, for instance - but was slapped down by his Beth Din and the chareidim (who never accepted him anyway) because of Progressive and - Heaven forbid, Rahmana Letzlan - Jewish Lesbian and Gay participation.
And that led to the farce over Dignity of Difference and the St Jonathan's Letters to the Rabbis over Hugo "Destroyer of our Nation" Gryn, ZT"L and the Masroti "Thieves" Movement.
Mirvis must beware: Limmud might lead to mixed dancing - actually, it does if you go to the Rebetzin's Disco (run by Jacqueline Nicholls, the wife of Rabbi Rafi Zarum).


Tue, 11/05/2013 - 17:15

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"(October 29, 2013; St. Louis, Missouri, USA) The mayor’s office has announced that Veolia Water North America has withdrawn itself from consideration for a contract to consult with the St. Louis Water Division, following almost a year of public protest of the corporation over its egregious track record of contract failures, poor performance, environmental destruction, labor abuses, complicity in Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights, and privatization of public resources."

Multinational Withdraws from Contract Bidding Following 11 Months of City-Wide Opposition


Wed, 11/06/2013 - 10:05

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aahhh … the girl who cried "veolf!"

suzanna: More news about Veolia! (a few weeks later)

Davis, California – The Davis Committee of Palestinian Rights (DCPR) is happy to report that Veolia Water North America has withdrawn as a prospective bidder on a $325 million dollar project that would provide treated water from the Sacramento River to residents of Woodland and Davis in Yolo County, California. The announcement came at the December 20, 2012 meeting of the Woodland-Davis Clean Water Agency (Water Agency), a joint powers authority between the University of California – Davis and the cities of Woodland and Davis. Veolia’s withdrawal followed efforts by citizens of Yolo County to prevent Veolia’s bidding due to the company’s involvement in the violation of Palestinian human rights

you lot do keep trying, don't you?

this victory claimed by the boycotters is a complete lie

the municipality decided last month to keep veolia in the running

see the inestimable davis enterprise ("breaking news for yolo county"!) at (20/12/2012) …

But the Woodland-Davis Clean Water Agency Board ruled at its meeting Thursday in Woodland that it had no business taking sides in an international debate and unanimously decided that, based on a business ethics survey each candidate was asked to filled out in January, neither Veolia Water, nor CDM United or CH2M Hill would be disqualified from the process.

About five or six other members of the public spoke on the item as well, but most were in favor of Veolia for various reasons.

George Rooks, a Davis resident who also lives in Israel six months out of the year, told of his personal experiences with Veolia Transportation services, and that he did not see the wrongful discrimination of Palestinians.

“On virtually every single bus trip (my wife and I have) ever taken, and every train trip we’ve ever taken, there were Israeli Arabs and Palestinian Arabs riding on the transportation,” Rooks said. “I’d just like to say that the idea that Veolia somehow discriminates against Arabs or Palestinians by operating transportation rights, is, I believe, absurd just based on my everyday experience there.”

BDS has put pressure on local businesses in the past, as in early 2010 it asked the Davis Food Co-op to ban Israeli food products from its store. However, the Co-op elected to remove itself from the debate as well and continued selling the products.

however, the municipality changed the time-line (revised the schedule) of the works, leaving veolia short of resources in the area in the new time-line

the municipality itself is very disappointed at veolia's withdrawal (having already rejected the boycotters, last month), see (22/1/2013) …

after several delays in the project schedule, the company found that it could not retain the key personnel and resources it would need to compete for the project.

“We looked at our resources and at our key staff and we found ourselves unable to respond based on the new timeline,” Haghighi said Wednesday. “We’re very busy with other pursuits and our resources are concentrated in other places. We just really didn’t feel like we could be gearing up again for this project based on the revised schedule.”

At the agency board meeting on Dec. 20, Mayor Joe Krovoza did not appear thrilled about the development.

the bds movement have a history of claiming successes against veolia that turn out to be wishful thinking!

Rich Armbach

Wed, 11/06/2013 - 11:41

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" Must read " is a much over used claim but THIS is a must read. In fact essential bed side reading for every Christian in the country, nay the world.

Rich Armbach

Wed, 11/06/2013 - 11:41

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" Must read " is a much over used claim but THIS is a must read. In fact essential bed side reading for every Christian in the country, nay the world.


Wed, 11/06/2013 - 13:43

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suzanna: … public protest of the corporation over its egregious track record of contract failures, poor performance, environmental destruction, labor abuses, complicity in Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights, and privatization of public resources …

this long list (including palestine near the end) purports to come from the mayor's office, but it only comes from ""

this cbs news report (29/10/2013) gives the true story (anti-french, rather than anti-israeli, racism! – together with anti-privatisation) …

Fears of a French takeover of the St. Louis water department ended today, when the Paris firm Veolia withdrew its $250,000 bid to do consulting work for the department.
Mayor Slay had pushed the deal, as a way to make the department more cost effective, promising it was not as a prelude to a Veolia takeover.
But opponents had raised fears that the consulting contract was a “Trojan Horse” to give Veolia a way to end up leasing or running the water department eventually.

“There’s a real move in the United States to start privatizing our public resources, not just with water, and people are concerned that the short term wins are going to have long-term effects,” Kelly said.

crying "veolf!" again, suzanna?


Wed, 11/06/2013 - 16:45

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Rich Armbach

Wed, 11/06/2013 - 17:38

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You missed the point of that. He is saying that as Christians you don't have to have doing something about the occupation ok'd by any Jew. Just get on with it.

So true, so obvious and so over looked.

Glad you agree it's a must read, though. o))


Wed, 11/06/2013 - 18:48

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Rich Armbach: He is saying that as Christians you don't have to have doing something about the occupation ok'd by any Jew.

if his whole book is as incomprehensible as that, i can see why you can't put it down!

Rich Armbach: Must read " is a much over used claim but THIS is a must read. In fact essential bed side reading for every Christian in the country, nay the world.

the author is mark braverman, program director of kairos usa – promoting the kairos document, which calls Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land “a sin against God and humanity” and which supports boycotting “everything produced by the occupation”.

braverman sees himself as a lone jew campaigning against the scourge of apartheid

One of the points that I make repeatedly to my Christian audiences – and I am not aware of other Jews who make this point – is that they must, as Christians, and as church organizations, move ahead as Christians and as the church in the movement to liberate Palestinians and Jewish Israelis from the scourge of apartheid in our time.

… and describes himself in his previous book "fatal embrace" as “a Jew who is overwhelmed by the reality of Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestine

this is a must-read for christians who want religious excuses to hate israel and to call for its destruction

Rich Armbach

Thu, 11/07/2013 - 10:27

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Wickipedia ? You are having a laugh. I understand that Jonny Hoff is a VERY active wicki editor.

But I digress

"if his whole book is as incomprehensible as that, i can see why you can't put it down!"

Your comprehension difficulties are hardly my fault are they ?


Mon, 11/11/2013 - 14:43

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Ethnic cleansing and aparthied continue to flourish in Israel:


Mon, 11/11/2013 - 18:05

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suzanna: Ethnic Cleansing alive and well in Israel:

suzanna: More information on ethnic cleansing in Israel:

suzanna: Challenge ethnic cleansing:


suzanna: Ethnic cleansing and aparthied continue to flourish in Israel

there's no ethnic cleansing

(not even one of your four links says there is … it's all in your mind )

the affected bedouin have always lived in the negev, and will continue to do so

the bedouin have for long been a sedentary community, not a nomadic one

no lifetsyle is being destroyed

the bedouin at present live in deprived urban communities in the negev, and the prawer plan aims to improve their conditions

most bedouin will be much better off, and the only losers will be those who receive insufficient compensation for losing their (unregistered) land

this is a perfectly normal and proper form of planning, and the only real issue is whether the compensation is sufficient (i would say, not )

suzanna: A primer on the proposed Bedouin resettlement in the Negev (Ha'aretz) …

a less biased "primer" is available on wikipedia, eg

"From the end of the Ottoman rule, a process of sedentarization was imposed on the Negev Bedouin …
Negev Bedouin are formerly nomadic … Arabs who live by rearing livestock in the deserts of southern Israel.

Today, many Bedouin call themselves 'Negev Arabs' rather than 'Bedouin', explaining that 'Bedouin' identity is intimately tied in with a pastoral nomadic way of life – a way of life they say is over. Although the Bedouin in Israel continue to be perceived as nomads, today all of them are fully sedentarized, and about half are urbanites.

an english translation of the begin-prawer report (23/1/2013) can be read here

The Bedouins in the Negev, today numbering approximately 200,000 persons, are citizens with equal rights in the State of Israel and as such are entitled to an economic‐social framework that will enable them to realize the opportunities for growth that are available to citizens of Israel. However, the Bedouins in the Negev are members of the most impoverished group in Israel and their destitution is accompanied by social problems that demand a comprehensive solution. Hence, it is the government's responsibility to take action in order to enable the Bedouins to extricate themselves from these circumstances and to grant them, and particularly the younger generation the tools necessary to successfully cope with the challenges of the future. (Approximately 120,000 Bedouins are under the age of 18, and tens of thousands more will be added in the coming decade)

The issue of the Bedouins in the Negev involves fundamental questions regarding the definition of proper relations between the state and its citizens, between a majority and a minority, between society as a whole and the individual, and between the individual and society.

Those who demand the full realization of all of the ownership claims for a minority of the Bedouins on the basis of "absolute justice" must not be allowed to deny over 100,000 Bedouin children the conditions vital for a better future that will be based on a compromise. The implementation of the principles of social justice to Bedouin children in the Negev and to their families is the obligation of the state which must, within a few years, advance a reasonable solution that will help them exploit their talents and realize their natural right to happiness just like any other child in Israel.

suzanna: Another good reason to support BDS

since the prawer plan (essentially a compulsory slum clearance scheme for tens of thousands of sedentary bedouin in the negev) is purely within israel

suzanna and jvp ("jewish voices for peace"! ) are calling for a boycott (BDS) of israel that has nothing to do with ending the occupation


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