The U.K.’s Chief Rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks, announced last night he will retire in September 2013.

Despite some speculation that he would not be replaced, Simon Hochauser, President of the United Synagogue (UK) and the Chief Rabbinate Trust, stated there would be a successor. He also revealed that focus groups will be used during the recruitment process and the process of succession will be determined by mid-2011.

In an official release issued today by his office, Sacks stated, “I am determined in the next three years to accelerate my efforts to help shape the direction and the future of our community. I will continue to focus my efforts on a new generation of leaders, rabbinic and lay, so that they are inspired by the breadth and depth of our Jewish heritage and a creative vision of what Anglo Jewry can achieve.

I am also looking forward to an active post-retirement set of engagements to carry forward in new ways what I have sought to achieve during my period of office.”

Speculation, which has been heating up in public for most of the past month, will now begin in earnest.

This article has been updated to include the reference to the official release from the Chief Rabbi’s office.