Chief rabbi — what’s the point?

By Simon Rocker, July 25, 2013

For Michael Howard, he is an “apostle of moderation.” For Vanessa Feltz, he is someone to disagree with, while Faith and Communities Minister Baroness Warsi thinks it would be a good idea for Muslims to have one.

These views — about the role of Chief Rabbi — were aired on this week’s edition of Radio 4’s What’s the Point Of, a light-hearted look at British institutions which turned its attention to the leader of Britain’s mainstream Orthodox Jews . While Reform Rabbi Jonathan Romain argued that the office was “outdated”, most of those interviewed by presenter Quentin Lett seemed to believe it still had a role.

Former Conservative leader Michael Howard, a Liberal synagogue member, believed present incumbent Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks to be an important counter to religious fundamentalism.

BBC radio presenter Vanessa Feltz thought the Chief Rabbi should be “someone to take a stand, with which one can then disagree.” Baroness Warsi felt British Muslims could take a leaf from the Jewish book. “There would be a huge advantage in having a Grand Mufti type-figure,” she said.

Last updated: 2:46pm, July 25 2013