Chief Rabbi praises Board but laments disunity

By Charlotte Oliver, October 24, 2013

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis marked his first official appearance at a Board of Deputies plenary meeting on Sunday by stressing the need for “unity” among British Jews.

The Chief Rabbi, who opened the meeting, insisted the community should make an effort to maintain a united front. “We have to behave in a menschedik [decent] way. We in this country as a Jewish community are beset by the challenges of antisemitism. We cannot afford to have disunity in our ranks.”

He praised the Board for providing Jews with “the opportunity to speak with one voice”. ”

The Chief Rabbi’s comments came only days after he was criticised by a group of Charedi rabbis over his decision to attend Limmud in December, and amid the ongoing merger talks between the Board and the Jewish Leadership Council which have been dogged by controversy.

Rabbi Mirvis paid tribute to the significant “historical contribution that the Board has given to British Jewry” and the respect it had helped the community earn in wider British society.

He said: “It is in this context that I applaud you for the outstanding way you represent all Jews in this country.”

Also making her inaugural speech at the Board was Anat Koren, who is to be the first deputy representing Israelis in Britain. Ms Koren, who attended the meeting as an observer while her election was being ratified, said it was time to include Israelis, who make up a third of the Jewish population living in the UK, in the “decision-making process of Jewish life in this country”.

She added: “For the board to include a representative of people who were born into a free and independent Israel, and who chose to make Britain their home, is an encouraging step forward.”

Last updated: 1:14pm, October 24 2013