January 20: Succeeding Sacks

Some criteria on the matter of who will succeed Britain’s current chief rabbi, Jonathan Sacks.

January 19, 2012 22:46
3 minute read.


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Succeeding Sacks
Sir, – Recent articles in The Jerusalem Post have addressed the matter of who will succeed Britain’s current chief rabbi, Jonathan Sacks. Let me suggest some of the criteria I think have to be applied:

1. The chief rabbi has to have superior spiritual, intellectual, halachic, moral and personal qualities.

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2. He has to have the confidence of rank-andfile British Orthodox rabbinate (of all shades of Orthodoxy).

3. He has to be able to work with the non-Orthodox, even though he disagrees with their views.

4. He has to win the respect of the British people for his intellectual and moral leadership.

If it is hard to be a Jew, it is harder to be a rabbi and harder still to be a chief rabbi.

The writer is a past president of the Australian and New Zealand rabbinate

Sir, – Gil Shefler’s articles on possible successors to the UK’s chief rabbi have been intriguing, but are wrong in one respect. Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks retires September 2013, not this coming September.

Beit Shemesh
The writer is a rabbi

Sir, – I think Shmuley Boteach would be a bad candidate (“British MP supports Boteach as next UK chief rabbi,” January 13) for a number of reasons.

Choosing to be spiritual advisor to Michael Jackson and Al Sharpton brings into question whether he is too eccentric for such an exalted position. And he published a book called Kosher Jesus.

I clicked on the book on Amazon.com, and in the introduction it says it’s a book seeking to unite Jews and Christians around the Jewish patriot Jesus. The book cover has a drawing of Jesus with a pierced hand. This hardly sounds like the material a chief rabbi should be writing.

New York

And on the book

Sir, – While Shmuley Boteach certainly doesn’t deserve all the bile he has received in response to his newest book (“The ferocious battle over ‘Kosher Jesus,’” No Holds Barred, January 17), he does not help himself gain sympathy by grandiosely proclaiming that only those who “have been a spacetourist with Virgin Galactic the past few weeks” don’t know that it will be published in February.

Get over yourself, Rabbi Boteach! Most of us have far more pressing issues to think about and keep track of. Your books and their publication dates are not even one-tenth of 1 percent as important to other people as you imagine.

Beit Shemesh

Sir, – There are more ‘dangerous’ ideas in the contemporary Jewish intellectual wind than Boteach’s Kosher Jesus.

Freud’s view that Moses was an Egyptian is not quite dead yet. A few other explosive ideas are that Kabbalah has nothing to do with God; that the prophets distorted Moses’s teachings; that Moses believed in God as creator of the universe, but that he, and not God, gave the Torah to Israel.

Backlashes there will always be. They will always be out of control and lose any sense of proportion.

For those like Boteach who love Judaism, Jewishness and the Jewish people, ferocious battles of ideas are the norm.

People don’t come into Judaism or exit from Judaism based only on ideas. But over time, they grow into ideas that resonate with their individual quests for meaning. Let new and controversial ideas continue to incense the ideational wind!

The writer is a retired professor of philosophy

The photographs accompanying Gloria Deutsch’s Homes feature on Page 26 of today’s Magazine (“Warm and inviting”) are of a different house and not related to the article.

We regret the error.

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