Britain’s Chief Rabbi Embraces Limmud, Despite Protest From Ultra-Orthodox

Ephraim Mervis Will Attend December Gathering

Winds of Change: Rabbi Ephraim Mervis (above) will be the first British chief rabbi to attend a Limmud gathering.
Getty Images
Winds of Change: Rabbi Ephraim Mervis (above) will be the first British chief rabbi to attend a Limmud gathering.

By Jennifer Lipman

Published October 23, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 3 of 3)

In an interview with the Forward, Rabbi S.F. Zimmerman, one of the signatories of the anti-Limmud public letter, stressed that the missive was “not personal to Mirvis.” He said he remained willing to work with the chief rabbi despite “a difference of opinions” on the issue. Zimmerman called the statement “a clarification of a long held opinion.”

Mirvis’ status as chief rabbi renders him “in a sense untouchable,” said Alderman. But the same is not necessarily true of other Orthodox rabbis. As a communal pulpit rabbi, Mirvis himself never attended Limmud, reflecting his own inclination then to toe the line.

Now, Orthodox rabbis less insulated than Mirvis will be under increased pressure, caught between the ultra-Orthodox rabbis’ opposition to Limmud and the chief rabbi’s embrace of it. The pressure can get quite personal.

“They will be thinking, if I support this will my children get shidduchim?” said Alderman, using the Hebrew term for a marriage match in traditional Judaism.

Added Barry Frankfurt, chairman of the minyan at Kinloss, Mirvis’ former synagogue: “It’s highlighted the very narrow path that those of us who consider ourselves Modern Orthodox walk.”

In his installation address, Mirvis vowed: “We shall not seek to impose our traditions on anyone.” His attendance at Limmud appears to be a concrete manifestation of that commitment. His challenge now will be to also maintain the respect and support of everyone as he does so.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Prime Suspect? Prime Minister.
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.