A third British rabbi is now in the running to be the next chief rabbi - Rabbi Alan Kimche of the Ner Israel Synagogue in north-west London.
Rabbi Kimche, who is 60, said this week: "I can confirm that I am a candidate. But to discuss anything more would be premature."
The Chief Rabbinate Trust, which hopes to announce a successor to Lord Sacks by the end of this year, has sworn itself to secrecy over the identity of candidates.
But word on the street over the past weekend suggested that the choice was likely to be made from one of four names: Rabbi Kimche, Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis of Finchley United Synagogue, Rabbi Harvey Belovski of Golders Green United Synagogue and Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt of the Riverdale Jewish Centre in New York.
Rabbi Kimche, who was born in Melbourne and came to London in 1958, is a graduate of the prestigious Mir yeshivah in Israel and also has a London University doctorate on the philosophy of law in the Talmud.
Ner Israel, the independent, modern Orthodox congregation he founded in Hendon in 1984, has now grown to nearly 400 families. It is known for its strong adult education programme which includes a Talmud class for women.
Rabbi Kimche was the rabbi who initiated the campaign to set up the north-west London eruv, which transformed life for Shabbat-observant families in the area.
Meanwhile, Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks has made it clear that he has no wish to prolong his office after his scheduled departure next September. He indicated that he was sticking to his retirement plans during a recent question and answer session at London's Western Marble Arch Synagogue.
Lord Sacks said that the idea of remaining longer in office had been broached with him - which, his office later explained, related to discussions which had taken place before the an
nouncement nearly two years ago of his retirement date.