Warm response to new chief Mirvis from Progressives

By Simon Rocker, September 3, 2013
The new chief rabbi Ephraim Mirvis with Rabbi  Laura  Janner- Klausner

The new chief rabbi Ephraim Mirvis with Rabbi Laura Janner- Klausner

The new Chief Rabbi entered office on Sunday on a wave of cross-communal goodwill that augured well for co-operation across the religious streams.

Progressive leaders responded warmly to the Orthodox leader’s inaugural address, which emphasised unity and interfaith harmony.

Rabbi Charley Baginsky, the new chairman of the Liberal rabbinic conference, who attended the installation with the movement’s president and chairman, saw “optimistic” signs in his comments.

“There wasn’t anything we could disagree with,” she said. “Hopefully, there will be ways in which we will be able to work together.”

Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, rabbinic spokesman of the Reform movement, said: “To have a rabbinic colleague who is such a fantastically decent and good person is great.”

The combination of personal warmth and erudition made him “a role model for the community” .

“It is wonderful to have a community event driven by key words such as togetherness and Tikkun Olam,” she said.

“I look forward to working together as partners, when appropriate.”

Guests included the co-chairmen of the Masorti movement and a delegation from Stamford Hill, headed by the president of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations, Rabbi David Frand.

Rabbi Mirvis also impressed with his promise to be “passionately involved” in strengthening interfaith bonds.

He said that Prince Charles’s presence was “an expression of your desire to bring unity and to promote all the good things that we stand for”.

Other religious leaders attending included England’s most senior Catholic, Vincent Nichols, and the assistant secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain and co-chairman of the Christian-Muslim Forum, Sheikh Ibrahim Mogra.

Welcoming the words of “co-operation and collaboration”, Sheikh Mogra said: “It is great to be here to celebrate with friends. Today was an extra special day not just for the Jewish community but for our nation as a multifaith, multicultural country.”

Rabbi Mendel Lew, rabbi of Stanmore and Canons Park, one of the largest congregations, said: “He had a difficult job to follow. Chief Rabbi Sacks was a class act. Rabbi Mirvis came here and he was amazing. His personality shone through — his enthusiasm for the job of being a rabbi, his love of community, his respect and belief in working together with one faith communities to promote harmony. There was a great feeling of unity in the shul.”

Last updated: 10:22am, September 3 2013