Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 2 August 2014

Chief Rabbi's plea for the 'weak'

Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis is set to be inducted as the seventh Chief Rabbi

The Prince of Wales has been praised for the "passion" he holds for inter-faith understanding as he became the first member of the royal family to attend the installation of the Chief Rabbi.

Charles, who wore his own navy blue velvet Kippah, or skull cap - decorated with the Prince of Wales' feathers, was applauded by guests as he attended the formal installation of the new Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, at St John's Wood Synagogue in north London.

Chief Rabbi Mirvis, addressing Charles, congratulated him on the birth of his first grandchild Prince George and said his presence as guest of honour at the ceremony was an honour for the "entire" Jewish community.

"Your Royal Highness, your presence today is a great honour, not just an honour for me personally but an honour for our entire community," he said. "It is a reflection of the passion you have to work with the faith communities in this country. It is an expression of your desire to bring unity and to promote all the good things that we stand for. Your input and your inspiration go a long way."

Lord Sacks, who stepped down after 22 years as Chief Rabbi, a post widely viewed as a figurehead for the British Jewish community, formally inducted his successor into the post and gave an address to the ceremony.

Addressing Charles, he said the presence of the Prince of Wales at the installation testified to the "generosity of spirit and the greatness of heart you have shown to all the faiths" while remaining "steadfast and exemplary in your own".

The praise for Charles comes after he once said he wished to be known as defender of faiths rather than defender of the faith when he becomes King.

The remarks by Chief Rabbi Mirvis, who becomes the 11th Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the UK and the Commonwealth, were made at the start of a sermon in which he warned against neglecting the poor and weak in British society and spoke of his pride in Jewish charitable giving.

"I am privileged to become the spiritual head of a most wonderful and remarkable community which fully appreciates the value of giving, which is there not only for members of our community but there for those who require assistance throughout the country and so we need to be committed to one and all," he said.

Around around 1,400 guests was present for the ceremony, including Labour leader Ed Miliband.

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