Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis: 'Wordle is a beautiful family bonding opportunity'

The Chief Rabbi has extolled virtues of viral game, which he plays daily with his children and grandchildren, entering the results into a 'league table'


Sir Ephraim Yitzchak Mirvis KBE, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth. Byline John Nguyen/JNVisuals 02/01/2022

Can you name a word comprising five letters that contains two vowels and three consonants, and enjoys widespread popularity among Jews and non-Jews alike?

If you came up with “Rabbi”, you would be correct - though that should be “Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis”, to use his full title.

You might associate the Chief Rabbi with lengthy, cerebral tomes, but Sir Ephraim makes time every day to dwell on material that is decidedly more concise, though still likely to keep his brain sharp.

The Chief Rabbi has endorsed the viral word puzzle Wordle, describing playing the app-based game as “a beautiful family bonding opportunity”.

Sir Ephraim, 66, said he and his family participate in a “daily Wordle challenge” together, logging the results in a “league table”.

The rabbi, who lives in north London with his wife, Valerie, has four adult children and 17 grandchildren, and bond – and compete – over their love of wordplay via WhatsApp.

“My wife and I, our children and our grandchildren have a daily Wordle competition,” the community leader, 66, told The Sunday Times Magazine.

“We send in our results on a WhatsApp group and have a league table, he explained, adding: “It’s a beautiful family bonding opportunity. I recommend it.”

In the interview, Sir Ephraim also reflected on more serious topics, including the “worrying increase in extremism, racism and xenophobia in the world”, which he has observed is “finding its expression in Britain”.

While it is “wonderful to be Jewish in this country and antisemitic actions are, largely, an exception to the rule”, Sir Ephraim warned there is “a lot to be concerned about”.

He said: “Fortunately in the UK the fight against antisemitism is led by the government at all levels and efforts for prevention and protection are not left to the Jewish people. A threat to the Jews is rightly seen as a threat to our entire society.”

Sir Ephraim also spoke of his pride at helping to support LGBT+ youth by producing in 2018 a guide for Jewish pupils who identify as such. It was, he said, “the first such printed guide in the world for Orthodox Jewish schools”.

Discussing the impact the guide has had, he said: “The global response has been absolutely wonderful. It humbles me when people say, ‘This has saved my life.’

“The Bible has prohibitions with regards to LGBT+. It also tells us to love others as ourselves and to be inclusive. Every human being is created in the image of God and we need to respect all people.

“Whatever I do, there are some who say you’ve gone too far and others who say you haven’t gone far enough. And, thank God, some say, ‘Well done’.”

Asked for the best piece of advice he has ever been given the Chief Rabbi replied: “Success can often come, not despite sorrow and setbacks but because of them.”

And in response to being asked what he wished he has known when he was younger, he said: “There is so much beauty and opportunity in other languages. I speak Hebrew, Afrikaans and Yiddish but I would have loved to learn a host of others.”

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