RABBI OF THE WEEK RABBI SI­MON HAR­RIS

The Jewish Chronicle - - Community Life -

The 46-year-old min­is­ter stud­ied He­brew and Ara­maic at UCL and SOAS, fol­lowed by six years in yeshivah in Jerusalem, re­ceiv­ing semichah from, among oth­ers, the then Jerusalem Chief Rabbi, Itzchak Kolitz. He pre­vi­ously served the Bournemouth, Ir­ish, West­ern Mar­ble Arch and Cape Town com­mu­ni­ties. He and his wife Ali­son have two chil­dren, Akiva, 7, and Le­vana, 3

Tell us about a typ­i­cal week There is no such thing as a typ­i­cal day, never mind a typ­i­cal week. As the old say­ing goes: ‘Man plans, and God laughs.’ It’s a mix­ture of the pas­toral, ed­u­ca­tional, and, hope­fully, in­spi­ra­tional. It’s all about mak­ing Ju­daism rel­e­vant to peo­ple’s everyday lives. The key to suc­cess is to try to con­nect with peo­ple, whether through a ser­mon, a hospi­tal visit, a shiur or a fu­neral. One should never un­der­es­ti­mate the pos­i­tive ef­fect a good word or a smile can make.

What do you do like most about your role? It uses all the dif­fer­ent sides of me. I en­joy teach­ing, writ­ing, speak­ing, and be­ing in a car­ing pro­fes­sion. Above all, I en­joy peo­ple. I also find that deal­ing with life-and­death sit­u­a­tions throws my own life into sharp fo­cus, and I ask my­self what I am do­ing, and whether I am mak­ing the best use of my time on God’s earth.

What do you do with your time-off?

Spend it with fam­ily. My chil­dren love an­i­mals, aero­planes, and gar­den­ing. This sum­mer we took them to Lon­gleat, which I loved. Sun­days are spent at mu­se­ums, aero­dromes, or in the great out­doors.

De­fine your Ju­daism

The mitzvot are sup­posed to en­rich our lives, so my Ju­daism is life-af­firm­ing.

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