Hot topics for next Chief Rabbi

August 30, 2012

Any chief rabbi will face an ovenful of hot potatoes on which he will be asked for an opinion by his own community or the wider world.

Internally, his attitude to the participation of women in synagogue and to relations with the non-Orthodox will lay down critical markers about his religious ethos.

Is he ready to lift the bar on women becoming synagogue chairmen and trustees of the United Synagogue, as its lay leaders are keen to see, even if it means twisting the arms of the London Beth Din?

How will he cope with requests for barmitzvah girls to be allowed to read from the Torah in all-women's prayer groups?

During his tenure Lord Sacks avoided the Limmud education conference rather than clash with the London Beth Din, which disapproves of its rabbis teaching at the same event as non-Orthodox rabbis. Will his successor follow suit?

If Baroness Neuberger invites him to speak in the hall of West London Synagogue, will he accept the invitation, or refuse to set foot in Reform premises?

The Middle East will inevitably put him in the media firing line. Will he be a defender of the historic rights of settlement in the West Bank, or happily turn up for dinner at the New Israel Fund?

If a bill is going through Parliament to allow gay civil marriage, he will have to choose which side to be on.

And will he relish the chance of doing public battle with Richard Dawkins' new atheists or confine his interventions only when Jewish religious freedom is at stake?

Last updated: 10:02am, August 30 2012