Chief Rabbi-elect Ephraim Mirvis unveiled one of the first practical initiatives he will launch after he takes office at the beginning of September.
The former Finchley United Synagogue minister has kept a low public profile since leaving his congregation at the end of April to prepare to succeed Lord Sacks.
But, in an address to the B’nai B’rith First Lodge of England, to which he was inducted as a member on Tuesday, he revealed plans to set up a Centre for Rabbinic Excellence attached to the Office of the Chief Rabbi.
Believing that rabbis were key to the transformation of synagogues into “vibrant community centres”, he said that he had found that “rabbis have great ideas… but they don’t always have the right partners; they don’t always have the money in order to translate their dreams into reality”.
The new centre would combine practical professional support for rabbis with funding for new programmes, he said, “so, hopefully… rabbis will be free to provide the leadership that their communities deserve”.
Underlining his support for Israel, he was critical of the latest EU threats of sanctions against the settlements.
It was important, he said, to “let others know we don’t blindly support Israel. We support Israel because we think that she is just, that she is fair and that she is right. And we won’t always support Israel in absolutely every single case.”