Sunday, July 09, 2006

AN OBITUARY FOR RABBI LOUIS JACOBS appears in the New York Times:
Louis Jacobs Is Dead at 85; British Rabbi and Scholar

Published: July 9, 2006

Rabbi Louis Jacobs, an internationally renowned scholar of Judaism whose seemingly clear path to the post of chief rabbi of the British Commonwealth was blocked by the Orthodox establishment more than 40 years ago, died on July 1 in London. He was 85.

The controversy over his blocked appointment is still alive among British Jewry and Orthodox scholarly circles worldwide. The Jewish Chronicle, a London-based weekly, often called Rabbi Jacobs "the greatest chief rabbi we never had." In a survey conducted by the paper last year, readers selected Rabbi Jacobs as the "greatest British Jew of all time," beating out all the chief rabbis as well as two formidable 19th-century figures, Benjamin Disraeli and Moses Montefiore.

Rabbi Jacobs wrote more than 50 books on a wide range of subjects, including theology, the Talmud, kabbalah, ethics, Hasidism and holidays. Although they often dealt with complicated subjects, the books were praised for their clarity and accessibility.

It was one of the rabbi's books that first got him into trouble with arbiters of Orthodoxy. In 1957, Rabbi Jacobs wrote a work of theology, "We Have Reason to Believe," in which he challenged the traditional view that the first five books of the Bible, known as the Torah, were dictated by God, word by word, to Moses on Mount Sinai.

May his memory be for a blessing.

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