Rabbi Jacobs to Tour U.s., Rejects Equation of Jewish Tradition and Reaction

A London rabbi and author who was once the center of a controversy within the Orthodox establishment in Britain will go on a nation-wide lecture tour under the auspices of the Jewish communal affairs and community services department of the American Jewish Committee, it was announced here today. Rabbi Jacobs will discuss the meaning of Judaism to the modern Jew and to modern life at synagogues, colleges and rabbinical conferences. His latest book “Faith” has been published by Basic Books here.

Rabbi Jacobs told a news conference arranged by the AJ Committee and his publisher that in “Faith” he has tried to show “that intense loyalty to Jewish tradition and observance need not be synonymous with reaction and fundamentalism.” He warned against allowing true religious feeling to degenerate “into more mechanical observance and meaningless behaviorism.” The Manchester-born rabbi whose pulpit is the New London Synagogue, figured in a controversy in 1961 with the then Chief Rabbi of Britain, Dr. Israel Brodie. The latter refused to endorse his appointment as principal of Jews College. London, because of a doctrinal dispute and later banned him from serving in congregations controlled by the United Synagogue in Britain.

“It was the same controversy that the Christian people engaged in at the turn of the century over fundamentalism,” Rabbi Jacobs said today in discussing the episode, “In the light of present knowledge, we have to revise our whole conception of revelation. It is more divine-human encounter than divine dictation, and this ran against the Chief Rabbi’s teaching.”

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