By Joe Millis
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis received a standing ovation at Limmud on Monday afternoon, as he told a 250-strong capacity audience: “It’s great to be Jewish!”
A record number of Limmudniks – more than 2,600 – have descended on the beautiful Midlands campus of the University of Warwick for the organisation’s annual conference.
And all eyes have been on Ephraim Mirvis, who defied members of his Beth Din to become the first United Synagogue Chief Rabbi to attend.
Speaking at the first of his two scheduled talks on Monday afternoon, Mirvis praised the annual conference as a “fantastic place where people are volunteering and giving of themselves selflessly and where all people have a part”.
In a lecture full of well-appreciated humour, which concluded with a rapturous standing ovation, the Chief Rabbi said: “The greatest strength of the Jewish people is its friendliness and unity. I’ve experienced wonderful acts of togetherness here. I’m delighted to be part of it.
“The lessons I draw from the story of Moses in the weekly parasha is that we must work on our unity as a people. We must be part of the world, not keep to ourselves or be in ghettoes. This is a universalist message. When we disregard those outside our community, when we build walls around ourselves, we may be pious but we are acting treif. We must engage in tikun olam to make this world a better place.”
Speaking to the Jewish News after his triumphant talk, he said: ”I am enjoying this opportunity to teach Torah to so many people thirsting for knowledge, who have come to learn and who desire to deepen their connection to Judaism.”