The Czech capital has elected a new chief rabbi. JTA reports that Rabbi David Peter, 38, was voted into the position by the Prague Jewish community. The Prague native currently serves as the rabbi of the city’s Jerusalem Synagogue. He previously lived in Jerusalem, where he was ordained at the Straus-Amiel seminary, and returned to Prague in 2011.
Fun fact about Peter: he’s a trained dancer.
Peter, a graduate of the dance conservatory in Prague, joined the Czech National Theatre ensemble before enrolling at the Machon Meier center for Jewish studies in Jerusalem in 1998. He went on to study at yeshivas in Israel before being ordained.
In a 2010 interview for Czech Radio, Peter said he decided to become a rabbi at the age of 17 or 18 after discovering that one of his distant ancestors was a rabbi.
“My dream is to help people embrace their Jewishness,” he said.
Rabbi Karol Sidon, 71, resigned from the post in July, after serving as Prague’s chief rabbi for 22 years. He remains chief rabbi of the Czech Republic.
Peter had worked closely with Sidon for the past three years since his return to Prague.
Being chief rabbi of any European city right now is a tall order, given recent anti-Israel demonstrations in cities like London, Paris, and Berlin. French Jews, noting the increasing frequency of anti-Semitic incidents across the country–largely centering in Paris—demanded a new chief rabbi of France be elected after the post was vacant for nearly a year. A new chief rabbi of France was selected in June.