CHIEF RAB­BIS: A HIS­TORY

The Jewish Chronicle - - Front Page - BY MIRI FREUD-KAN­DEL

Solomon

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

Hirschell: self-se­lected

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