First UK honorary doctorate for Chief Rabbi

Chief Rabbi honoured by Middlesex University for promoting social responsibility and interfaith work


Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis has received his first honorary doctorate from a British university in recognition of his interfaith work and encouragement of social responsibility.

The Hendon- based institution conferred the honour on him at a degree ceremony yesterday.

Jenny Jacobs, director of programmes in the university’s department of biological and environmental sciences, cited the Chief Rabbi’s “outstanding contribution to Jewish communities, education and interfaith dialogue in the UK and beyond.”

Rabbi Mirvis had spoken out against prejudice, modern slavery and sexual abuse, she said.

As a person, he engendered “loyalty and warmth”.

He believes  "passionately that poverty, prejudice and inequality can be addressed through education and social action," she said.

She noted his launch of the Ben Azzai programme which has taken young Jews to India and Ghana to educate them about the developing meal.

The iftar meal he and his wife Valerie had hosted at their home at Ramadan had sent “a strong message of the importance of togetherness between Jewish and Muslim faiths".

In his words of acceptance, Rabbi Mirvis said he felt “so moved, so humbled, so privileged” to receive the honour and considered it a symbol of recognition and respect in which the Jewish community was held.

Professor Tim Blackman, vice-chancellor of Middlesex said he was “delighted that we are honouring Chief Rabbi Mirvis this week. As exceptional achievers in their fields, our honorary graduates are role models for our ambitious students and it’s a great privilege to welcome them to the Middlesex family to be part of our future success.”

The university enjoys an academic partnership with the nearby London School of Jewish Studies, overseeing its degree programmes. Rabbi Mirvis is president of LSJS.

The university is keen to develop links with the Jewish community and is now running open days on Sundays, rather than only Saturdays.

The Chief Rabbi was touched the university had checked the academic robes he wore at the ceremony to ensure they contained no sha’atnes - the forbidden mixture of wool and linen.

He has previously received an honorary doctorate from Touro University in California.



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