United Synagogue president Stephen Pack, who is leading the search for the next chief rabbi, declined comment this week on reports that it had now come down to one name.
There was growing speculation in some circles that Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis of Finchley Synagogue was the only man left standing, but that the search committee had yet to agree on recommending his appointment. Some members of the committee, it has been said, still wanted to continue looking overseas.
Mr Pack said this week that there were some “great candidates” but reiterated: “I don’t think it is right to comment on numbers and names.”
Whereas the Church of England has now chosen its new Archbishop of Canterbury, it is nearly two years since the announcement of Chief Rabbi Sacks’s retirement, next September.
Mr Pack said: “The Chief Rabbi is not retiring for nearly a year, whereas the Archbishop is retiring in a few weeks. Our self-imposed timetable said it would be nice if we could make the appointment by the last quarter in 2012. We may well get there. We’ll carry on the process until we get the right candidate.”
According to the timetable, the eight men and women on the search committee were due to have completed their interviews before autumn and be in a position to put a name forward. Their choice will then have to be ratified by a wider group comprising another 15 representatives from the United Synagogue and other central Orthodox communities.