Retiring British Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks has launched an attack on ultra-Orthodox Judaism, which he said “segregates itself from the world and from its fellow Jews.”
Speaking at his own retirement dinner Monday night, Rabbi Sacks drew an equivalence between assimilated Jews “who embrace the world and reject Judaism, and those who embrace Judaism and reject the world.”
That the center is shrinking is “worse than dangerous,” said Sacks. “It is an abdication of the role of Jews and Judaism in the world. We are here to engage with the world, to be true to our faith and a blessing to others regardless of their faith.”
His 22-year tenure will come to a close on September 1. Monday night, the last in a series of communal events marking his departure, highlighted his position as a leading religious voice in Britain today. The guest of honor was Charles, the Prince of Wales.
Although the Chief Rabbi has not yet indicated what formal position he is likely to accept after September, he seemed to stake out a strong role for himself promoting a centrist Orthodoxy, pledging to work to “inspire a new generation of leaders for the Jewish world, rabbinical, educational and lay, who will have the courage to face the world and all its challenges without fear, will have the responsibility to lead and the spirit to be a source of light in a sometimes dark and difficult world.
“I want to inspire young Jews throughout the world to believe in and live a Judaism that is tolerant, inclusive, embracing, non-judgmental; that is intellectually open and ethically uplifting; that is neither defensive nor arrogant, but that lives the life of faith in such a way as to enhance the life of others within and beyond the Jewish community.”
Read more at Times of Israel.