(Former chief rabbi, Jonathan Sacks (R), congratulates the new chief rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, during a ceremony at St John’s Wood Synagogue in London September 1, 2013. REUTERS/Stefan Rousseau/pool )

Britain’s new chief rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, who has vowed to remain traditional by barring women rabbis and same-sex marriage, was sworn in on Sunday to face the challenge of uniting the nation’s polarized Jewish community.

About 1,400 guests, including Britain’s heir apparent Prince Charles, attended a ceremony at a north London synagogue as Mirvis replaced the respected Jonathan Sacks after 22 years as the leading spokesman for British Jews.

“A warm welcome to new @chiefrabbi Mirvis & my thanks to Lord Sacks for special contribution he made to our whole country as #ChiefRabbi,” Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted.

South African-born Mirvis, 56, becomes head of Britain’s largest Jewish denomination, but his synagogue network and other mainstream Orthodox make up only half of the 260,000-strong UK Jewish community, the world’s fifth and Europe’s second largest.