Aaron Hart (rabbi) - Biography
Chief Rabbi Aaron Uri Phoebus Hart (1670, Breslau - 1756, London) was the first chief rabbi of the United Kingdom and the rabbi of the Great Synagogue of London from 1704 until his death.
He was son of Naphtali Hertz of Hamburg (Hartwig Moses Hart), a prosperous Jewish resident of that city. After studying at a yeshiva in Poland, he married the daughter of R. Samuel ben Phoebus of Fürth, author of a commentary on Eben ha'Ezer. It was probably through the influence of his wealthy brother, Moses Hart, founder of the Great Synagogue, in Dukes Place in London, that he was appointed rabbi of the first Ashkenazic synagogue in that city. This was opened in Broad street, Miter square, in 1692.
Hart published in 1707 a small work entitled Urim ve-Tummim, which is of interest as being the first Hebrew book printed in London.
His tenure saw a great expansion in Jewish life in Britain, and the growth of a number of small provincial communities. Such communities were often served by single hard-worked officials, who referred questions to the Rabbi of the Great Synagogue in London. Hart's advice was also sought when appointing shochetim and other officials. They looked to him to authorise marriages; both functions are still exercised by the Chief Rabbinate today.
A portrait of Rabbi Hart hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in London.