The United Synagogue rabbis who attended this year’s Lmmud have praised the conference and agreed that Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis was correct in his controversial decision to attend it.
Nine US rabbis joined the chief rabbi in participating in the five-day cross-communal event, at Warwick University, defying criticism from right-wing sections of the Orthodox community.
Woodside Park Synagogue’s associate rabbi Garry Wayland, who was attending for the first time, said he was “struck by the range of learning” on offer.
He added: “I liked the way that we went there and there wasn’t a big fanfare. The controversies of preceding months were almost unnoticed and I hope that’s the way it will be [in the future].”
Another first-timer, Ilford Synagogue’s Rabbi Geoffrey Hyman, agreed there was “a certain positiveness” at Limmud.
But he qualified his praise by saying that he found aspects “disturbing. Some sessions I wouldn’t go to next time.”
He added: “I hope, long-term, that more mainstream, centrist Orthodox rabbis will go because at the moment the rabbis who went to Limmud are more to the left. If more mainstream rabbis don’t go, it’s going to have limited influence.”
Rabbi David Mason, from Muswell Hill Synagogue, who gave three sessions, enjoyed the experience. “It was great to hear such positive feedback from the chief rabbi’s talks,” he said. “I look forward to next year.”
Rabbi Zvi Solomons, of Reading Synagogue, said those Orthodox rabbis like himself who had been conference regulars over the years felt buoyed by the chief rabbi’s visit. “He’s gone out of his way to support Limmud,” he said.
The chief rabbi’s attendance was warmly greeted by Progressive rabbis. Jonathan Romain, of Maidenhead Synagogue, said it signalled “a new mood” within Orthodox religious leadership.