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Finland Has New Israeli-Born Chief Rabbi

Finland’s new chief rabbi is Simon Livson, the 30 year-old Israeli born son of Finns.

Livson was officially installed as chief rabbi on Jan. 13, taking over from Rabbi Moshe Edelman.

Livson, who describes himself as modern-Orthodox, immigrated to Finland in 1989 when his parents returned to their country of origin and its Jewish community, numbered at about 1,400 by the European Jewish Congress.

He later studied at an Israeli yeshiva that is part of the Ohr Torah Stone educational institutions founded by Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, and at in the Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School in New York.

Livson lives in Helsinki with his Israeli-born wife, Sivan Glazer-Livson, and their two-year-old daughter.

Livson assumes the position in the midst of a discussion in Finland about whether to label Israeli products as possibly originating from the West Bank, and shortly after a heated national debate about whether to ban circumcision.

“My position may require more politics than expected of a regular rabbi, but I have no intention of becoming a politician,” he told JTA. “I am here to serve the spiritual needs of the community and answer general questions about Judaism, not to debate the settlements. As for the discussion on circumcision, it has died down in past weeks and I hope this is the calm after the storm.”

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