New chief rabbi installed in Turin

ROME (JTA) — Rabbi Eliyahu Birnbaum was formally installed as the new chief rabbi of the Italian city of Turin, ending years of tension.

The installation Saturday was preceded by years of tension over his predecessor, Rabbi Alberto Somekh, who was dismissed in May after 17 years as chief rabbi. The dismissal marked the first time in Italy that a community’s chief rabbi had been ousted and highlighted deep divisions between strictly Orthodox and non-observant members of the community.

Birnbaum, educational director of the Israel-based outreach organization Shavei Israel, was named to the post this summer but formally assumed the position during a Shabbat investiture ceremony that was attended by Rabbi Yona Metzger, the Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Israel.

Birnbaum planned to remain based in Israel but spend at least one week a month in Turin.

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