The ‘African Chief’ - a man for all seasons

  • Reznik
This year marks the ninth anniversary since the passing of Chief Rabbi Cyril Harris zt’l on the ninth of Elul in Hermanus in September 2005 on the eve of his 69th birthday and less than a year after his retirement as chief rabbi .
by ISAAC REZNIK | Aug 27, 2014

Chief Rabbi Harris was born in the district of Langside in Glasgow in 1936 and grew up in a close-knit family and spent his early childhood in the small Scottish town of Ayr.

Initially schooled in Glasgow, he later attended the University of London where obtained a BA (Hons) degree in Hebrew and Aramaic and then went on to obtain a M Phil degree in Talmudic and Mediaeval Hebrew Languages and Literature.

He was awarded the Minister’s Diploma and Rabbinical Diploma of Jews College, London (and his simcha was signed inter alia by Chief Rabbi Immanuel Jakobovits zt’l and Rabbi Kopul Kahane z’tl.

Rabbi Harris embarked on a career which was distinguished by his appointment to a number of key communal posts in the United Kingdom and then finally as chief rabbi of the Union of Orthodox Synagogues of South Africa in 1988 He was supported in all his by his widow, Ann Harris who made their presence felt in every synagogue in southern Africa.

Rabbi Harris was fondly known as the “African Chief” and was received everywhere as a “Man for all Seasons”,

May his memory be for a blessing.



  1. 2 adam levy 28 Aug
    We miss you Rabbi Harris - [Personal attacks not allowed by Anon users  -ED] you had integrity, honesty and humanity.  SEE COMMENT GUIDELINES
  2. 1 Mike Kahn 29 Aug
    We miss you Chief Rabbi Harris. You walked with kings, but never lost the common touch.


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