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Chief Rabbi Makes Landmark Address to Limmud UK

By: JTA

Ephraim Mirvis became the first sitting British chief rabbi to address the annual Limmud conference, defying the opposition of prominent haredi Orthodox rabbis in England.

Mirvis, who received a standing ovation Monday upon entering the packed auditorium at the University of Warwick, did not directly address the controversy in his session on this week’s Torah portion.

Referring to Moses’ talent in drawing together the Jewish people, he suggested that single strands are easier to break than a rope.

“We need to concentrate seriously on binding the Jewish people, rope like, together,” Mirvis said.

The chief rabbi is to give a second session on Tuesday titled “A Torah guide to conflict resolution.”

The critics had said the conference, which draws thousands of participants from all walks of Jewish life, represented a danger to British Jewry by suggesting it was acceptable for observant Jews to associate with less or non-observant Jews.

Mirvis told the audience of several hundred that he was moved by the acts of voluntarism he had witnessed.

“Here at Limmud, you can’t escape the fact that it’s great to be Jewish and I’m delighted to be a part of this,” he said, smiling broadly.

In keeping with its principle of not elevating any one speaker over another, Limmud organizers did not introduce Mirvis as he took the podium.

This year’s event has drawn more than 2,500 participants from the United Kingdom and around the world for 4 1/2 days of lectures, workshops, performances and discussions on Jewish issues ranging from Torah study to art, archaeology, history and politics. The event is more than 30 years old.

Mirvis’ predecessor, Jonathan Sacks, reportedly had supported Limmud early on but bowed to pressure from his haredi colleagues and never attended.

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3 Responses to “Chief Rabbi Makes Landmark Address to Limmud UK”

  1. Zmira Cohen says:

    Kol Hakavod Rabbi Mirvis.Millions of Jews believe you are showing the right path, to a more united People.
    I wonder if you can go a bit further and act as a catalyst to realign the situation of Jewish women in public life in a more fair/just manner.
    On a related issue, one of the most offensive 'chumras,' to emerge in the last 20 years has been the virtual ban of women 's singing.
    Just consider how , as a consequence the wonderful treasury of folk music , both Yiddish and Ladino (and other folk formats such as the Mizrachi genres , no doubt ) , have all but disappeared.
    Has no one thought that in the time up to the Yom Kippur War , how Israeli music was sung and hummed and incorporated into our culture . Moreover , it helped to attach us to the State of Israel in a very real way . Jewish people identified with the joys and the woes of Israeli society very much through public singing .
    Our future needs to be ensured in many ways . Exclusion of committed , informed , actively involved Jewish women at any level , will not ensure our survival….Kol Hakavod to you again for attending and participating at UK Limmud.

  2. Anonymous says:

    bring back a strong revisionist zionist movement to our youth they need a raison d etre- what is better than Israel. Our homeland. Look around the world today, can you think of a safer place for us jews? Deborah

  3. Anthony Kent says:

    The chief Rabbi represents the middle of middle-of-the-road UK orthodoxy. He has not bowed to the right by attending Limmud, and not appeased the left by allowing partnership minyanim onto the hallowed grounds of his synagogues.

    United synagogue shuls can now have women chairmen (mine does). However, further changes to women's rights will need to wait till the teutonic plates of modern orthodoxy next shift to the left.

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