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Britain's Chief Rabbis were attempting to respond to the new religious climate, and deployed a variety of tactics to achieve their aims. This book presents a radical new interpretation of Britain's Chief Rabbis from Nathan Adler to Immanuel Jakobovits. It examines the theologies of the Chief Rabbis and seeks to reveal and explain their impact on the religious life of Anglo-Jewry. The book begins with the study of Nathan Marcus Adler, Chief Rabbi from 1845, and it then explores how in 1880 Hermann Adler became Delegate Chief Rabbi on his father's semi-retirement to Brighton. In the pre-modern era, and for a while after, rabbis saw themselves and were seen as the heirs of the rabbinic tradition, whose role first and foremost was to rule on matters of religious law. The book argues that the Chief Rabbis' response to modernity should be viewed in the context of Jewish religious responses that emerged following the Enlightenment and Emancipation. It sketches out a possible typology of those responses, so that Chief Rabbis can be placed in that context. Chief Rabbis were members of the acknowledgement school, which contained a number of different theological currents: romantic, scientific, aesthetic and nostalgic. Hermann Adler was the Chief Rabbi during his time, and his religious policies were to a great extent motivated by his religious ideas. Joseph Herman Hertz's theology placed him in the traditional group within the acknowledgement school, although he was influenced by its scientific, romantic and aesthetic branches.

Benjamin J. Elton

Chapter 9 From the Second World War to the Jacobs Affair in this book of the Chief Rabbis’ thought and policies from 1880 until 1945 enables us now to consider developments after that date in their proper context. Scholars have argued that there was a significant shift in the religious character of Anglo-Jewry between 1945 and about 1970, and we can examine whether that was indeed the case. The most significant event in Anglo-Jewish religious history in that period was the Jacobs Affair. It is around that controversy that most discussion is based, and I therefore

in Britain’s Chief Rabbis and the religious character of Anglo-Jewry, 1880–1970
Benjamin J. Elton

secondly and more significantly because Hertz’s religious policies were very important in shaping Anglo-Jewish religious history, and, as we shall see, Hertz’s religious thought was the greatest factor in determining the way in which he led his community. I argue that, like Adler before him, Hertz was a member of the group of traditionalists who wished to acknowledge what they considered to be the valuable aspects of modernity. Although Hertz was part of the scientific branch, he was also influenced by Hirsch – a position which Meirovich regards as impossible, but as others

in Britain’s Chief Rabbis and the religious character of Anglo-Jewry, 1880–1970