Rabbi Sacks’ legacy on leadership is in safe hands

Former chief rabbi Lord Sacks (© Blake-Ezra Photography Ltd. 2013 via Jewish News)
Former chief rabbi Lord Sacks (© Blake-Ezra Photography Ltd. 2013 via Jewish News)

‘Today the two most powerful movements in Jewish life are assimilation and segregation. Jews are either engaging with the world at the cost of disengaging from Judaism, or engaging with Judaism at the cost of disengaging from the world.’

Rabbi Sacks ztl wrote these words in 2013 at the end of his Chief Rabbinate.

Just two years later Mizrachi UK was reborn with its mission to transform British Jewry with a Judaism engaged with the world.

In 2015 there were no Modern Orthodox and Religious Zionist UK young couples in Israel studying for Semicha. Today there are eight couples in Israel with two couples, Rabbi Jack and Rivka Cohen and Rabbi Yossi and Chana Hambling already back in the UK, transforming communities in Hampstead and Birmingham. Hopefully next year another three couples will begin semicha in Yerushalayim.

In 2015 there were hardly any Religious Zionist Shlichim couples inspiring the community in schools, communities and on campus.

Today there are ten, working in London, Leeds and Manchester and please God there are many more to come. Working together with the United Synagogue, Chaplaincy, Jewish schools and Provincial communities, Mizrachi UK are bringing Torat Yisrael to the UK.

In 2016 Rav Eliyahu and Yocheved Silverman revolutionised learning at Hasmonean Girls and in 2018 Rav Moshe and Moria Gold inspired the Borehamwood community and the Bet Midrash programme at Yavneh. Since 2018 Rav Joel and Sarah Kenigsberg have been the Rabbinic couple at Magen Avot as well as the Rav and Rabbanit Shlichim of Bnei Akiva and since 2019 Rav Ari and Laura Silberman have created a revolution for Mizrachi in the North of the UK. These are just a few examples of Shlichim who are changing the Jewish landscape in the UK.

Mizrachi has also led the way by offering inspirational programming to all segments of our community, including HaMizrachi magazine, the Tzurba M Rabbanan series and our Shabbatonim at Home, joint with the United Synagogue during the COVID – 19 lockdown.

Please God our wonderful Weekend of Inspiration in May will return this year after a two-year absence. We have our productions like Dreams of a Nation and the myriad of films that thousands have watched on You Tube.

More recently our Yehudi initiative has the potential to inspire the next generation of young men and women to be role models and leaders for the community and instil a strong, meaningful Jewish and Zionist identity in thousands of the Jewish youth of today. In the first year alone we are working in 15 primary schools, engaging with 660 year 6 children who are led by 130 leaders from 6th form and university.

In these and so many other ways, we are fulfilling Rabbi Sacks’s call to engage with Torah and to engage with the world.

Over the last 6 years Mizrachi globally has been reborn thanks to the vision of Rav Doron Perez. Here in the UK, Josh Pomerance restarted Mizrachi UK in 2015 along with trustees, who saw the need for a strong Mizrachi in the United Kingdom, and I am honoured to be a part of that vision.

On Sunday 5th and Monday 6th December we will be asking to the whole community to join us in supporting the transformation of the UK community and a strengthening of our communities connection to the people of Israel, the land of Israel and the Torah of Yisrael.

Our campaign during Chanukah is no coincidence. Chanukah celebrates the extraordinary story of how a small group of passionate individuals made a monumental difference to the direction of the Jewish people.

Although our Modern Orthodox and Religious Zionist community is fairly small in the UK, we have made, and continue to make, a monumental difference to the direction of UK Jewry –  just like the Maccabees did for our people so long ago.

Please join us and allow Mizrachi UK to continue to make that difference.

Mizrachi UK – Inspiring leaders, influencing our future.

Chanukah Sameach

About the Author
Rabbi Andrew Shaw is CEO of Mizrachi UK