Chief Rabbi says he was an admirer of Steve Jobs

The late Steve Jobs

The late Steve Jobs

Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks has received short shrift in the national and technical press after apparently backtracking over remarks he made about the late Apple founder, Steve Jobs.

The comments, made at a 70th anniversary dinner for the Council of Christians and Jews last week, were reported online in the Daily Telegraph in a story headlined "Chief Rabbi blames Apple for helping create selfish society".

Lord Sacks was quoted as saying: "The consumer society was laid down by the late Steve Jobs coming down the mountain with two tablets, iPad one and iPad two, and the result is that we now have a culture of iPod, iPhone, iTune - i, i, i.

"When you're an individualist, and egocentric culture and you care only about 'i', you don't do terribly well."

Technophile Lord Sacks

Technophile Lord Sacks

After howls of outrage - not least in America - the Chief Rabbi's Office clarified his remarks.

His spokesman said: "Of course it was not meant as an attack on Steve Jobs personally or the contribution Apple has made to the development of technology in the 21st century.

"The Chief Rabbi admired Steve Jobs immensely and indeed uses an iPhone and an iPad on a daily basis. Only earlier this year, the Office of the Chief Rabbi released its own iPhone app, because he recognises the value of this technology."

The comments were part of a wider speech where the Chief Rabbi was "pointing out the potential dangers of consumerism when taken too far. The use of Apple was merely one of the mechanisms used to demonstrate this wider point..."

But one technology journalist wrote on the ITWorld website: "Maybe the Chief Rabbi was afraid his iphone and iPad would be disabled - by Apple or some other 'power.'"

Last updated: 12:57pm, November 24 2011