Lord Sacks criticised by progressive rabbi

By Simon Rocker, October 22, 2010
Rabbi Dow Marmur

Rabbi Dow Marmur

A leading Progressive rabbi has launched a scathing attack on Lord Sacks and the British chief rabbinate.

Rabbi Dow Marmur said that although the outside world may regard Lord Sacks as representing British Jewry, his authority in the community was “dwindling”.

“When it is an incontrovertible fact…that Rabbi Sacks’ standing is declining, there are reasons to ignore him as much as possible,” Rabbi Marmur wrote in the new issue of Manna, the Progressive quarterly.

“Except perhaps…to bring about his retirement, for example into a chair at Yeshiva University or another academic post.”

His remarks came in a review of Another Way, Another Time, a critical study of Lord Sacks’s Chief Rabbinate by former JC Judaism editor Meir Persoff.

Rabbi Marmur, who now lives in Jerusalem, is a former chair of London’s North-Western Reform Synagogue and has been an influential figure in the World Union of Progressive Judaism.

He said that Lord Sacks’s intellectual standing gave his office “much more prominence than reality would warrant”.

While the chief rabbinate should be “of little interest” outside the United Synagogue, he wrote: “Because of the various ways in which Lord Sacks uses his standing in Britain and the support he gets from many leaders, the harm he has caused extends far beyond the world of the United Synagogue.”

Rabbi Marmur described as “neurotic and cowardly” the Chief Rabbi’s attempt to placate the right-wing Orthodox over his attendance at a memorial service for the Reform leader Rabbi Hugo Gryn 13 years ago.

He suggested that if Reform leaders had been “more vociferous earlier on, they may have inhibited Rabbi Sacks from letting them down so badly”.

Last updated: 12:49pm, October 22 2010