UK Chief Rabbi to receive knighthood from King Charles III

The Chief Rabbi is one of several Jews to receive a slot on the annual New Year's Honours List.

 King Charles III speaks to Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis as he meets with faith leaders during a reception at Buckingham Palace, London. September 16, 2022. (photo credit: AARON CHOWN/POOL/REUTERS)
King Charles III speaks to Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis as he meets with faith leaders during a reception at Buckingham Palace, London. September 16, 2022.
(photo credit: AARON CHOWN/POOL/REUTERS)

British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis is set to be granted a knighthood by King Charles III, as seen in the 2023 New Year's Honours List published on Friday evening.

The Honours List is a list of British nationals or Commonwealth citizens who have been selected to receive an honor for exceptional achievements or service. Honors will be granted either in the form of a knighthood or as an appointment to the Order of the British Empire or other gallantry awards.

"It will be particularly moving for me to receive this award from His Majesty The King, in his first year as our monarch."

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis

The Honour List is published biannually, and it will be presented by King Charles III for the first time after the passing of Queen Elizabeth II earlier this year.

The highest honor that can be granted is that of Knighthood and it is typically granted for a pre-eminent contribution in any field of activity. 

Rabbi Mirvis, whose official title is Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, will receive a Knighthood for his "significant services to the Jewish community, to interfaith relations and to education."

 Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis (L) lights a candle during the UK Holocaust Memorial Day Commemorative Ceremony in Westminster in London, Britain January 27, 2020. (credit: CHRIS JACKSON/POOL VIA REUTERS) Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis (L) lights a candle during the UK Holocaust Memorial Day Commemorative Ceremony in Westminster in London, Britain January 27, 2020. (credit: CHRIS JACKSON/POOL VIA REUTERS)

According to the official Honours List published by the British government, the Chief Rabbi has been a pioneer of interfaith activity since his days as a congregational rabbi.

Mirvis has initiated several programs to bring together people of various faiths, including one aimed at uniting Anglican and Jewish clergy. He has helped to initiate Jewish-Muslim community engagement projects since taking up the role of Chief Rabbi in 2013.

According to The Jewish Chronicle, the Vice President of the Council of Christians and Jews, Maurice Ostro OBE KFO, said of the appointment bestowed to Mirvis that "this honor is not awarded to faith leaders simply because of their positions, and it is a testament to how he has gone above and beyond his role as Chief Rabbi and his recognition as a leader by both faith and non-faith communities."

The Chief Rabbi was also singled out on the Honours List for his leadership when it comes to addressing global events and his "Judaism of Responsibility" vision. 

"For example," the Honours List states, "on the plight of Uyghur Muslims, [Mirvis's program was] the only such intervention by a global faith leader."

Also of note is his work within the Jewish community advancing inclusivity and equality in the Orthodox world, as, during his time in office, Rabbi Mirvis has appointed the UK's first female halachic advisor and advanced opportunities for female leadership.

Mirvis was also singled out for his achievements in the field of education, with it being stated that: "The Chief Rabbi has championed the cause of faith schools and Jewish education and issued a guide on the well-being of LGBT+ pupils in Orthodox Jewish schools - the first of its kind anywhere in the world."

Responding to the news of his Knighthood, the Chief Rabbi said that he was "enormously honored and deeply humbled by this award.

"It will be particularly moving for me to receive this award from His Majesty The King, in his first year as our monarch."

British Jews on the New Years Honours List

In addition to the Chief Rabbi, several other Jews will also be recognized on the New Year's Honours List.

British Jewish TV personality Rachel Riley is set to receive an MBE (Order of the British Empire) for her contributions in the field of Holocaust Education. 

In 2018, Riley, a co-presenter on the British daytime puzzle show Countdown, headed a campaign against antisemitism in the Labour Party under then-party leader Jeremy Corbyn and has since continued to be vocal and raise awareness about antisemitism against British Jews.

Riley has won several defamation cases after extensive antisemitic harassment online, and in November 2022, was awarded £50,000 in damages after a libel action against Michael Sivier, a blogger who had accused her of abusing a teenager.

 Rachel Riley is seen at Scala Radio, Bauer Media on July 12, 2022 in London, England. (credit:  NICKY J SIMS/GETTY IMAGES FOR BAUER MEDIA) Rachel Riley is seen at Scala Radio, Bauer Media on July 12, 2022 in London, England. (credit: NICKY J SIMS/GETTY IMAGES FOR BAUER MEDIA)

President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews Marie van der Zyl will receive an OBE for her work in faith and integration, as has the Board's former president, Jonathan Arkush, who now serves as the president of the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture.

Holocaust survivor Lily Ebert, who celebrated her 99th birthday earlier this week, will receive an MBE for her services to Holocaust Education.

Congratulating Ebert, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust Karen Pollock said: "Holocaust survivors who have been educating over decades and those who have begun sharing their testimony more recently, are rightly awarded for their courage and dedication."