Federation of Synagogues hires Rabbi Shraga Feivel Zimmerman, current head rabbi of Gateshead, as new Av Beth Din

Rabbi Zimmerman will succeed Dayan Lichtenstein as head of the organisation's religious court


The Federation of Synagogues has hired Rabbi Shraga Feivel Zimmerman, the head rabbi of the Gateshead Jewish community, to serve as the new head of its Beth Din, with the Federation's president of the organisation describing it as "marking a major milestone in the renaissance" of the organisation.

Rabbi Zimmerman has been the head rabbi of Gateshead and leader of its Beth Din since 2008, when he moved to Britain from America. He had previously served as the rabbi of a community in Monsey, prior to which he had served as a Dayan (judge) for the Kehal Adass Yeshurun community (Breuer's) in Washington Heights, Brooklyn.

Andrew Cohen, president of the Federation, described how Rabbi Zimmerman as someone "acknowledged as one of the most influential leaders and poskim (people who rules on issues of Jewish law) in this country", and said he would "provide the Federation and the wider London community with a transformed level of Rabbinical authority and leadership.

"He will also be tasked in driving forward the vision and strategic growth of the Federation and enhancing its rapidly expanding range of valued communal services. This appointment is a recognition and endorsement of the significant achievements of the past five years and we are truly excited at the future prospects under his leadership and guidance.”

Rabbi Zimmerman described it as "an honour to have been appointed as Rov and Av Beis Din of the Federation. I look forward to building upon the achievements of my predecessors and fellow dayanim, and to work with them to continue serving klal Yisrael [the Jewish people].”

Rabbi Zimmerman will be taking up his new position in London in a few months’ time, when the current head of the Federation Beth Din, Dayan Yisroel Lichtenstein, retires.

The Federation announced in March that Dayan Lichtenstein, who has led its Beth Din for three decades, would be retiring within the next year. There had been rumours that the organisation was attempting to persuade Rabbi Zimmerman, who is considered a posek (person who rules on issues of Jewish law) of significant stature, to succeed him.

One observer described the hire of Rabbi Zimmerman as “a real feather in the cap” of the Federation, making “a real statement about its halachic authority” in a space he said was perceived by some as having been vacated by both the London Beth Din and Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations.

“Rabbi Zimmerman is a widely respected posek within the Charedi world, both in this country and abroad”, the observer said.

“This move is a real indication, going forward, of both how the Federation wishes to see itself, but also how it wishes others to see it.”

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