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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

Green Beth Hamedrash.4 This synagogue’s ideology fits within the romantic wing of the acknowledgement school. Its rabbi, E. Munk, had a doctorate in English literature and he and his members scrupulously observed halakhah.5 It was during this time that Jacobs’ views changed radically. While serving as Munk’s assistant, Jacobs studied for a degree in Semitics at University College London, where he was taught by Siegfried Stein, whom we would place in the non-traditional wing of the acknowledgement school, as one who combined halakhic observance with an acceptance of

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

Chapter 4 Intellectual context: theology and theologians that the Chief Rabbis were members of the acknowledgement school, which contained a number of different theological currents: romantic, scientific, aesthetic and nostalgic. The Chief Rabbis were primarily members of the scientific stream, although – as they took conservative positions on certain matters, particularly the authorship of the Pentateuch – they were members of its traditional wing. However, the Chief Rabbis also adopted ideas from the romantic stream and thereby inhabited theological ground

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

have been developing. This study’s particular contribution concerns the types of response adopted by what we have called the acknowledgement school. O I will turn first to my revisions to the historiography on the Chief Rabbis and others. We have considered the thesis of Alderman, Endelman and others that Hermann Adler and J.H. Hertz were neither substantial scholars nor theologians, and that they espoused a Judaism that was lukewarm and lax (Alderman), took a tolerant and latitudinarian attitude to diversity in theology and practice, were much concerned with unity

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

willingness to contribute to its well-being. It fell to Adler as a leader of Anglo-Jewry to show that they were. When we examine Adler’s policies in the context of those of other religious leaders, they again demonstrate that Adler is correctly sited in the traditionalist camp within the acknowledgement school. In his policies Adler had much in common with other members of that group, such as Hildesheimer and Hirsch, while he differed from the antipathy and adaptation schools, and crucially, with those in the non-traditionalist group within the acknowledgement school

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

Chapter 7 The theology of J.H. Hertz .H. HERTZ’S THEOLOGY placed him in the traditional group within the acknowledgement school, although he was influenced by its scientific, romantic and aesthetic branches. We can see this in Hertz’s attitude to the major issues of Jewish belief: the Pentateuch and the rest of the Hebrew Bible, the Oral Law, the development of halakhah, his philosophy of mitsvot, Jewish mysticism, the Messiah and the afterlife. We examine Hertz’s position on secular learning, non-Jews and nonJewish religious movements, and on Jews and Jewish

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

because they belonged to the groups I divide them into. These groupings are descriptive, that is, people’s thought and behaviour has led me to place them in different parts of the typology, not the other way around. I do not claim that the typology in itself explains why people behaved in certain ways. No one I discuss said ‘I am a member of the scientific branch of the acknowledgement school’, for example, ‘and therefore I will hold such a view about such an issue’. I do argue, however, that these groupings organise individuals and movements in such a way that we can

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

combined these attitudes with a belief in the value of modern scholarly methods in the study of Jewish texts, a relaxed stance towards such issues as evolution and an enthusiasm for the best aspects of non-Jewish culture. These views place him in the traditional grouping within the acknowledgement school, with a particular affiliation to its scientific branch, alongside other Wissenchaft-influenced traditionalists, such as Hildesheimer, Hoffman, Morais and Hermann Adler. However, Hertz differed profoundly from some others within the acknowledgement school. For while

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

deathbed message to the community: ‘I have tried to do my duty, to act in conformity with Torah haketuvah vehamesorah [the Written Torah and Jewish tradition]’.9 These attitudes place Adler in the acknowledgement school in our typology of Jewish religious responses to modernity. His Wissenschaft inclinations place him in the scientific branch, although his concern for the outward forms of Jewish life and worship and his openness to non-Jewish culture display a debt to the romantic and aesthetic branches too. His conservative theological views situate him in the

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