CHIEF RABBIS: A HISTORY
CHIEF RABBINATE elections have historically been characterised more by autocracy than democracy.
Anglo-Jewry has, in fact, formally appointed only six chief rabbis. Two were selected by election, while the others were officially appointed by electing councils. In truth, though, throughout the 20th century, United Synagogue kingmakers assumed the task of selection, handpicking their preferred candidates.
Solomon Hirschell was the first recognised chief rabbi in Anglo-Jewry but he developed the post out of his ministry of London’s Great Synagogue between 1802 and 1842. His successor, Nathan Marcus Adler, was the first to be elected to the post. As this election took place in 1845, before the formation of the United Synagogue, officially formed in 1870, this appointment was free of the superintendence that the honorary officers of the US would subsequently assume.
In 1890 no formal election was required to appoint Adler’s successor. His son, Hermann Adler, who had been functioning as effective Chief Rabbi since 1879 due to his father’s poor
Nathan Marcus Adler: elected