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UK’s Chief Rabbi Mirvis Is Knighted By King Charles III

King Charles III awarded the knighthood, one of the UK’s highest honors, to British Chief Rabbi Rav Ephraim Mirvis, a statement by the UK cabinet office said on Friday.

According to the statement, Rabbi Mirvis was appointed as Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 2023 New Year Honors for his “significant services to the Jewish community, to interfaith relations and to education.”

“I am enormously honored and deeply humbled by this award,” Mirvis said in response to the announcement. “It will be particularly moving for me to receive this award from his majesty the king in his first year as our monarch.”

Rabbi Mirvis’s predecessor, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, z’l, was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2005.

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)

13 Responses

  1. For many years, the office of the Chief Rabbi has been beset by interfaith dialogue and politically correct messaging. Even in Chief Rabbi Jacobovits’s day, this was the case.

    To illustrate, back in 1988, The Jewish Chronicle reprinted a one-volume complete Hebrew Mishna with a brilliant, terse commentary called קֹהֶֽלֶת יַעֲקֹב. The author of the commentary was Rabbi Jakob Kornberg zt”l, a fine Torah scholar from Częstochowa, Poland with a connection to the Lelover chasidic dynasty. In the original 1919 edition of Kohelet Ya’akov, some very renowned personages penned Hebrew haskamot for the work. Among these were chief rabbis Dr. Joseph Hertz and Dr. Moses Gaster, along with Dayyan Moshe Avigdor Chaikin, a Lubavitcher chasid who was head of the London Beth Din, and Rav Avraham Tzvi Perlmutter, the av bet din of Warsaw and a representative in the Sejm. Perlmutter had been an illui in his youth. He later published דמשק אליעזר (responsa) and ארץ צבי (on the Aggadot). זכר צדיקים לברכה.

    A very august cadre of approbators, to be certain. But the pièce de résistance of the group was Rav Avraham Yitzchak ha-Kohen Kook zt”l who was living in London at the time and serving as rabbi of Machzike Hadath, a Litvishe shul on the East End. Rabbi Korberg’s “Kohelet Ya’akov,” which is all but unknown today, was worthy enough to garner the effusive praise of such luminaries.

    Anyhow, when it was reprinted in 1988, Rabbi Jacobowitz wrote an additional haskama, but in English. He wrote, “Our Sages say that the Almighty made His covenant with Israel not over the Written Law of the Torah but over the Oral Law. The Mishnah represents the basic compendium of the Oral Law as its first and most important codification. The Mishnah, therefore, is an even more characteristic expression of specifically Jewish thought and law than the Torah itself, WHICH WE AFTER ALL SHARE AS OUR BIBLICAL HERITAGE WITH MILLIONS OF GENTILES AS WELL.” (The last clause has been capitalized by me for emphasis.)

    To be sure, none of the original approbators would have dreamed of writing such words in their Hebrew haskamot. Without a doubt, the author of the commentary Rabbi Jakob Kornberg zt”l would have reeled at such a statement. Yet Rabbi Jacobovits could not resist. All he had to do was to pen an endorsement of the sefer, but he had grown so accustomed to bloviating before lords and monarchs about the commonality we share with our gentile hosts that he forgot that a Mishnah commentary, especially one written by a staunchly Orthodox talmid chacham of the Old School, is not the place to pontificate about how Christians are as much the heirs to Israel’s biblical heritage as are the Jews.

    Alas, such shenanigans are now to be expected from the British chief rabbis. In fact, there has not been a ga’on as Chief Rabbi of England since Rabbi Dr. Nathan Marcus Adler, author of נתינה לגר, a classic sefer on Targum Onkelos. Since Adler’s passing in 1890, many of his successors have been guardians of Jewish tradition, and credit for this sacred task should not be withheld from them. Yet they have also been savvy maneuverers who speak in politically correct language in order to mitigate the ethnic weirdness of the Jews in the eyes of our hosts.

  2. Not stam a knighthood, but a KBE; by statute there can only be a maximum of 845 KBEs at any one time, so new ones can’t be appointed until an old one dies.

    I wonder whether the decision to give Rabbi Mirvis this honor was the King’s or the government’s. The vast majority of gongs are given out by the government, not the sovereign himself, but in this case it may have been the King’s decision, since they have long had a strong personal relationship. But that’s not the sort of thing anyone is likely to talk about.

    And yes, hypecut, of course he has smicha. Why would it even occur to you that anyone would be appointed Chief Rabbi without it? And yes, Ari Knobler, he is a talmid chochom, as was Rabbi Jacobowitz. But nowadays the main function of the Chief Rabbi is to be a shtadlan rather than to pasken shaylos; there are many eminent rabbonim to handle the rabbonishe parts of the job, so it’s more important that he be good at shtadlonus.

  3. Milhouse: Of course Rabbi Mirvis is a talmid chacham and I know that Rabbi Jacobovits a”h was one as well. Among the points I tried to make was that the British Chief Rabbi is a political position. Some holders of the office have been Torah scholars while others have been spiffy spokesmen with a good gift of gab who are keen to avoid saying anything impolitic.

  4. Moderators: This is very strange. When I load this page, my comment from 7:30 PM does not appear, even though it has apparently been approved. Nor do my more recent comments awaiting moderation appear. But if I add a comment, as I am doing now, when I submit it I will see the approved comment, as well as my comments that are awaiting moderation. I do not understand this odd behavior of the blog software, so I’m bringing it to your attention.

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