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Noted British Rabbi, Chief Chaplain to British Forces, Resigns

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The resignation of Rabbi Isaac Levy as spiritual leader of the Hampstead Synagogue, one of the largest in Britain, was the latest development today in a continuing doctrinal dispute in British Orthodox Judaism. Dr. Levy also resigned as Chief Chaplain to Her Majesty’s Forces.

The resignations became effective immediately but Dr. Levy told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency he would remain in the Hampstead pulpit until the end of this year, so that the congregation would have time to find a new Minister. He said this would be difficult because not many rabbis were able to lead such a large, important and sophisticated congregation. Dr. Levy will become director of the Jewish National Fund of Britain, with which he has been associated for many years in an honorary capacity.

No official explanation was given for the resignations but it was recalled that, as a member of the Council of Jews’ College, Dr. Levy had supported the appointment as principal of Dr. Louis Jacobs, an appointment vetoed by Chief Rabbi Israel Brodie.

Dr. Levy also sided with Dr. Jacobs in the latter’s struggle with Chief Rabbi Brodie over interpretations of Jewish religious law, which led to Rabbi Jacobs’ removal from the pulpit of the West End Synagogue. The latter is one of the largest member synagogues of the United Synagogue, the principal organization of Orthodox Jewish congregations in Britain, which is also the parent body of the Hampstead Synagogue.

Dr. Levy told the JTA that his resignation resulted from “accumulated frustration” over the years, and that his backing of Dr. Jacobs was one of the reasons but not the sole one. He hinted that the United Synagogue officials had caused him more trouble than the theological disputes.

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