Get a chief rabbi, but not with a road­show

The Jewish Chronicle - - News - BY MAR­CUS DYSCH

THE UNITED Synagogue has not ruled out of­fer­ing mem­bers the chance to vote on the next chief rabbi.

The JC launched a cam­paign last week for the next chief rabbi — to suc­ceed Lord Sacks when he re­tires in Septem­ber 2013 — to be demo­crat­i­cally elected, with synagogue mem­bers and a wider sec­tion of the com­mu­nity hav­ing a say in the process.

The US said it was too early y to de­cide what the pro­ce­dure for choos­ing the new chief rabbi would be, but pledged to make the process “as demo­cratic as pos­si­ble”.

Stephen Pack, the new US pres­i­dent, last week in­di­cated d his will­ing­ness to of­fer re­li­gious ious groups both to the right and left of cen­tral Or­tho­doxy a role in choos­ing Lord Sacks’s suc­ces­sor.

Mr Pack in­tends to cre­ate two se­lec­tion pan­els to de­cide on an ap­pointee by Rosh Hashanah 2012.

The groups are likely to com­prise an in­ner cir­cle which will draw up a short­list, in­ter­view can­di­dates and rec­om­mend a name, and a larger rep­re­sen­ta­tive group to rat­ify the choice.

For­mer Board of Deputies pres­i­dent Lionel Kopelowitz took part in the 1964 se­lec­tion process which chose Im­manuel Jakobovits as chief rabbi.

He said much could be learned from past ex­pe­ri­ences. “In 1964 the pres­i­dent of the US con­vened a con­fer­ence. Peo­ple from all over the coun­try at­tended to rep­re­sent their com­mu­ni­ties.

“That could be recre­ated. We have al­most two years to con­sider can­di­dates and that’s am­ple time.” D Dr Kopelowitz did not suppo port the idea of an X-Fac­tors style pub­lic vote, or a se­ries of pub­lic de­bates sim­i­lar to those in which the politic cal party lead­ers took part be be­fore last year’s gen­eral elec­tion tion. He sa said: “That’s not a good idea at all. How do you ex­pect av­er­age shul mem­bers to be able to de­cide be­tween can­di­dates?

“We need to move for­ward but not with a road­show to elect a chief rabbi. That would not work at all. It would be ab­so­lutely wrong.”

Other fac­tors, he be­lieved, such as the fund­ing of the new chief rabbi’s of­fice, were now more im­por­tant than the se­lec­tion process.

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