Thursday, December 20, 2012

Meet the New Chief Rabbi of the Commonwealth

Mazal tov to Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, who will be the next Chief Rabbi of the British Commonwealth! Current Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks will retire this September. Lord Rabbi Sacks is a tough act to follow, but hopefully the world will give Rabbi Mirvis a fair chance.

Commonwealth, you say? I thought he was only the Chief Rabbi of the UK? After all, Rabbi Mirvis used to be the Chief Rabbi of Ireland. 

Good question.

The way that I understand it, the UK's Chief Rabbi remains the Chief Rabbi of the entire Commonwealth, the former British Empire. From Canada to New Zealand and back again. I'm not sure how that plays out in rabbinic politics, but my guess is that Rabbi Sacks would supersede because he is just that respected and well-liked. Whether any other Chief Rabbi today would be able to supersede Chief Rabbis of the Commonwealth countries may be a very different question.

Several Americans were considered for the post, which surprised me. It would be like the British Invasion in reverse. With less drugs and music. But still lots of screaming fangirls. And/or it would be the American Revolution Part Deux (Thank Dear Husband for that one).


  1. If your info was from a New Zealander, I'm shocked! The Commonwealth certainly still exists, and the Queen is both Head of the Commonwealth, and Queen of New Zealand! (Some members of the Commonwealth are republics (not Ireland though), so the position of Head of the Commonwealth is separate though (to date, anyway) always vested in the British monarch).

  2. See my post on facebook. The Commonwealth exists 100%.

  3. Corrections made. Are the corrections corrent? Meh, don't blame my New Zealander. I probably misunderstood.

  4. I have to correct my correction. To be clear, the Republic of Ireland is a republic (shocking, no?), but it's not part of the Commonwealth.

  5. One addition, which I forgot to add after Chrome for iOS swallowed my first attempt: as I understand it, even the Evangelical Church in the USA is part of the Anglican Communion, which is headed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, in the County of Kent, England (that's England proper, not the whole UK), so the Chief Rabbi is not alone in this respect. Ironically, however, within Britain the Chief Rabbi has no official jurisdiction over the non-Orthodox.

  6. We're in Canada, and I love the fact that he's MY chief rabbi! But we don't have one for Canada, so there's no war for rabbinical supremacy going on here... :-)