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Friday, June 7, 2013

UK - New chief rabbi rejects £10 million house in favour of suburbia

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, uses London buses and has spoken of how he has to go to the gatehouse of Lambeth Palace to collect his takeaway pizzas.

The next chief rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, has gone even further and renounced a central London home altogether.

Mirvis, who takes over from Lord Sacks in September, has made clear that he does not want to live at the chief rabbi’s spacious, grace-and-favour home in Hamilton Terrace, St John’s Wood, which is worth an estimated £10  million.

Instead, he and his wife, Valerie, will live in Hendon, the northern suburb close to his current house in Finchley. “Many prominent members of the Jewish community don’t think it is appropriate to have the chief rabbi residing in the suburbs,” complains one worshipper.

By way of response to this dissatisfaction, the United Synagogue announced that a reception and other meeting rooms would be provided for Rabbi Mirvis in the West End by the Central Synagogue.

Mandrake hears that the rabbi was offered a palatial flat, with ample entertaining space, in Great Cumberland Place, on the premises owned by Western Marble Arch Synagogue, but he turned it down.

Mirvis was rabbi at Western Marble Arch Synagogue, whose congregation includes Gerald Ronson, the tycoon and ex-jailbird, and David Buchler, the former vice-chairman of Tottenham Hotspur, from 1992 until 1996. The synagogue’s board chose not to renew his contract.

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