South Africa's Goldstein wows British rabbinate

By Simon Rocker, September 15, 2011
Chief Rabbi Goldstein

Chief Rabbi Goldstein

The Chief Rabbi of South Africa, Warren Goldstein, tipped as a possible successor to Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks, made a favourable impression on United Synagogue rabbis in a brief visit to the UK.

Rabbi Goldstein was here to deliver the keynote address at Lord Sacks's annual pre-High Holy Day conference for the rabbinate last week.

One US rabbi said: "He had everyone mesmerised. His breadth of knowledge, passion and warm demeanour makes him ideal chief rabbi material. Many were overheard saying, 'he has my vote'."

Another rabbi said: "I don't think he will have done his chances any harm. He comes across as a genuine, well-educated person to whom the rabbinate could relate."

Rabbi Goldstein was South Africa's youngest chief rabbi when he took office six years ago at the age of 32. He is the co-author of African Soul Talk, his dialogues with Dumani Mandela, the grandson of Nelson Mandela.

A video of his conference talk can be seen on the website of the South African Chief Rabbinate.

South African-born Rabbi Barry Marcus, of Central Synagogue, said he had heard positive feedback about Rabbi Goldstein from colleagues. "He's a very competent guy, I think he would make a very effective and good chief rabbi."

As yet, rabbis have no formal role in choosing their next leader. How the new chief rabbi is to be appointed is still to be decided by US leadership.

Last updated: 1:42pm, September 15 2011