London Jewish school principal ordained as priest


(JTA) — The principal of a Jewish school in London has been ordained as a Church of England priest.

Patrick Moriarty, 51, who is not Jewish, has been headmaster of the Jewish Community Secondary School in north London, or JCoSS, since 2012, The Times of London reported Saturday. The school has 1,300 students and 100 teachers.

“The governing body is proud to have a non-Jew as its head teacher and prouder still that he has been able to find time to take his own religious beliefs to the next level,” said Jeremy Kosky, chairman of the school’s governors.

A handful of Jewish day schools in North America have non-Jewish heads of school or principals, who supervise the general curriculum or the entire school while a Jewish faculty member directs Jewish studies. JCoSS has a director of Jewish learning as well as a director of Jewish life.

Moriarty, who according to The Times works 70 hours a week, was appointed as assistant curate at St. Mary the Virgin, in the London borough of Barnet, following his ordination as a deacon in July at St. Albans Cathedral.

Moriarty’s new colleagues at St. Mary the Virgin were pleased to share him with the Jewish institution, they said.

“Patrick’s work within the Jewish community, and in wider interfaith circles, is incredibly enriching for us, as I hope our prayers and support are enriching for him,” said James Mustard, the rector of East Barnet.

Moriarty told The Times that his church responsibilities were mostly on Sundays, but he has already experienced having to exchange his casual clothes into clerical dress on a school day.

Asked how students at the Jewish school have responded to his new clerical role, he said, “They just say, ‘are those your vicar clothes, sir?’ Nobody really bats an eyelid, but I do try not to wander around school like that. It would be confusing in any workplace, but it certainly is as head of a Jewish school.”

In a newsletter to the students in May, Moriarty wrote: “From July I can officially use the title ‘Rev.’ (like a Rav [Hebrew for rabbi], but with different outfits …) and wear the clerical collar; I have no plans, however, to do either at JCoSS, and the day job will continue just as before.” Rev. is short for reverend.

Moriarty’s JCoSS colleagues have supported and encouraged him for what he described as a “rather unusual path.”

He received cufflinks and socks that said “Trust me, I’m a vicar,” as well as wishes from parents relieved that his new role didn’t mean he planned to resign, The Times reported.

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