Educated at City of London School followed by a year in Yeshivat HaKotel, Rabbi James Proops then obtained a BA (Hons) in International History and Politics from the University of Leeds. Upon completing his degree he became the full-time Youth Director at Stanmore and Canons Park United Synagogue, organising social activities, various trips both in the UK and abroad, and providing Jewish education for 10-18 year olds.
After marrying his wife Sarah he then spent five years living and studying in Jerusalem, in which time he received semicha and completed the two year Ner L’Elef Jewish Leadership training programme. He also holds a teaching qualification from the Agency of Jewish Education, as well as a certificate in Counselling from Birkbeck University.
Between 2003-2014 Rabbi Proops served as a Chazzan for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur services in both Glasgow and then in Stanmore, as well as being a popular choice for singing at chuppahs both in the UK and in Israel. During his time in Israel he co-hosted JJam, a Jewish music programme, on Rusty Mike Radio, Israel’s only English speaking radio station.
Before joining Mill Hill, Rabbi and Sarah Proops served as the campus Rabbinic couple in Leeds for Aish UK. Together they provided education, pastoral support, friendship and never-ending meals to the hundreds of students based in Leeds. Rabbi Proops was also appointed head of northern campuses for Genesis, a programme of Aish UK and the JLE, which included overseeing the programme in Liverpool, Manchester and frequent visits to Durham.
It seems that community roles are where Rabbi Proops' strengths and passions lie. "Having consistently held positions of leadership in a local community, culminating in working as a youth director, I realised that trying to educate, inspire and serve the Jewish community was my passion and something I wished to dedicate my career to," he says.
In September 2012 Rabbi Proops took part in the United Synagogue Rabbinic Internship programme, where prospective Rabbis come to the UK for the High Holidays, are placed in a shul and get a feel for the US. "I had the opportunity to meet with the then Chairman and some members of the Board of Mill Hill. Sarah and I were very taken by the prospect of one day joining the community if the chance presented itself. When we heard earlier this year that the decision had been made to recruit a couple we were very keen to explore the possibility of that couple being us."