A rabbi from a mountain farmer's family in the Swiss Alps will be the new Kingston and Surbiton United Synagogue minister after members approved his appointment.
Yechezkel Mandelbaum discovered his Jewish roots when studying theology at the University of Basel. He subsequently studied at Israeli institutions, graduated from the Montefiore Endowment rabbinical ordination programme in London and worked with the Lugano community.
He and his wife Shulamit established a foundation to help "at risk" teenagers from religious families. When Mrs Mandelbaum was offered a place to read maths at Oxford,the couple moved to the UK.
Kingston members voted after the Mandelbaums spent Shabbat with the community.
The couple said they were "overwhelmed by the warmth and engagement" of members. "We look forward to making many inspiring acquaintances."
Shul chair Sheila Mann said they would "further develop our wonderful community".