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Did the Chief Rabbinate move to the right? A case study: the mixed choir controversies, 1880-1986

Benjamin D. Elton

<plain_text><page sequence="1">Jewish Historical Studies, volume 39, 2004 Did the Chief Rabbinate move to the right? A case study: the mixed-choir controversies, 1880-1986* BENJAMIN J. ELTON There are few institutions that have so affected the nature of Anglo-Jewry as the British Chief Rabbinate.1 Yet, bizarrely, its development and influence have been neglected by historians. Indeed, no substantial research was done on the Chief Rabbinate between Cecil Roth in the 1950s and Miri Freud Kandel in the past few years. Unsurprisingly, there are still large gaps. Roth examined no Chief Rabbi after J. H. Hertz (1913-1946) and Freud-Kandel examined in depth only the period since 1913, in what was a theological rather than a historical study. Apart from a biographical essay by Israel Finestein almost nothing has been written about Hermann Adler (1890-1911) or his father, Nathan Marcus Adler (1845-1890). There are no full-scale scholarly biographies of any Chief Rabbi. Such neglect has led to misunderstanding and mistakes that are repeated in the secondary litera? ture. There is need for a thoroughgoing revision and re-appreciation of the role of the Chief Rabbinate. This article takes a first step towards that, through a detailed investigation of a particular religious debate in Anglo Jewry, that over mixed choirs. If nothing else, it shows how much work needs to be done to develop a proper understanding of the subject. The British Chief Rabbinate can trace its history back to the late seventeenth century, following the re-admission of the Jews to England under Cromwell in 1656. However, the modern Chief Rabbinate can be said to have been founded by Nathan Marcus Adler, Chief Rabbi from 1845 until his death in 1890. Since him there have been five Chief Rabbis, Hermann Adler (1890-1911), J. H. Hertz (1913-1946), Israel Brodie (1948 1967), Immanuel Jakobovits (1967-1991) and Jonathan Sacks (since 1991). * An earlier version of this paper was presented to the Society on 19 February 2004. 1 It gives me great pleasure to thank the following individuals without whose help and guidance this article would never have appeared: Dr Tessa Stone, Dayan Ivan Binstock, Rabbi James Kennard, Rabbi Zvi Telzner, Rabbi Z. M. Salasnik, Dr Alexander Knapp and Edgar Samuel, not to mention many friends and family who have been unstinting in their encouragement and support. 121</page><page sequence="2">Benjamin J. Elton N. M. Adler was recognized in his own day as one of the greatest rabbis of his generation and his reputation remains high today. However, the argu? ment is commonly made that after 1880, when Nathan retired to Brighton and his son Hermann became Delegate Chief Rabbi, and more especially after 1890, when Hermann became Chief Rabbi in his own right, the Chief Rabbinate became a liberal institution, lax, careless with Jewish law and more concerned with Anglicization and assimilation than religious obser? vance and piety.2 It is further argued that from the 1960s onwards, under pressure from right-wing elements in the community, the Chief Rabbinate took a sharp turn to the right. What had previously been permitted was banned and a liberal and enlightened attitude was replaced by one of narrow-minded religious bigotry and pedantry. This article demonstrates that the view described above is indeed widely held, both by academics and by members of the Jewish community. Secondly it shows that the issue of mixed synagogue choirs, which will be shown to be a major supporting pillar of the 'move-to-the-right' thesis, has been misunderstood by those who have examined it. The article goes on to examine other issues that show the thesis to be seriously flawed. There is clearly a need for a full re-evaluation of it and of the religious history of Anglo-Jewry in general. However, before embarking on the main course of the investigation, a few words of definition and contextualization are necessary. Judaism in England is unique in terms of its organization and structure. It is based around the United Synagogue, to which about seventy per cent of English Jews affiliate. The United Synagogue was formed in 1870 by the union of a number of synagogues in the City of London. It was and is Orthodox, but subscribes to a relatively undemanding type of Orthodoxy. English Jews wait for three hours between eating meat and milk; American Jews tend to wait for six hours. English Jews usually marry inside syna? gogues, although the preferable practice is to marry outside. The spiritual leader of the United Synagogue is the Chief Rabbi, who is also head of an ecclesiastical court, the Court of the Chief Rabbi, also known as the London Beth Din. Until the 1930s the Chief Rabbis actually presided over the Court, and the other members, the dayanim {dayan, 'judge') were merely his assis? tants. Since the 1930s the Chief Rabbis have taken a smaller role in the proceedings and have allowed the dayanim to run the court. They were and are highly trained specialists in Jewish jurisprudence. They have often held very strict opinions themselves, to which the mass of English Jewry does not subscribe and which they do not attempt to force on the community. However, the Beth Din could be said to be to the right of both mainstream 2 See e.g. J. Jung, Champions of Orthodoxy (London 1974) 183-258. 122</page><page sequence="3">Did the Chief Rabbinate move to the right? Anglo-Jewry and of the Chief Rabbi himself in terms of strictness in matters of observance.3 Since the foundation of the United Synagogue many new constituent synagogues of the United Synagogue have been established. Most, such as St John's Wood, Golders Green, Marble Arch and Stanmore, were estab? lished to serve growing communities in areas without an Orthodox syna? gogue. The new synagogues were more or less 'right wing' depending on the nature of the community, but they were set up for practical rather than ideological reasons. For example, although the New West End Synagogue was for many years on the left wing of the United Synagogue, it was not set up intentionally to be a bastion of liberalism in the Orthodox camp, but simply to serve the Jewish community in and around Kensington. Hampstead Synagogue, however, with which I shall be dealing in detail, was founded in 1892 for more complicated reasons. There was a practical need for a synagogue to serve the Jewish population of Hampstead, but those who founded it intended it to combine what they regarded as the best elements of Orthodoxy and of Reform, under the gentle aegis of the Chief Rabbinate.4 The founding committee would agree to join the United Synagogue only on condition that a number of reforms to the service were permitted.51 shall go into some of these in detail later, but it can be noted here that the Chief Rabbi Hermann Adler granted only some of the requested reforms and that, although that was enough for most of the founders, some left the committee in protest.6 The result of the negotia? tions was not simply a new synagogue with a mildly reformed service, but an ideology, to which Hampstead Synagogue members felt closely attached. This attachment helps explain their obstinacy over mixed choirs. The first Chief Rabbi confronted with the question of mixed choirs, Nathan Adler, was a rabbinical giant, called to England from Hanover, where he was already Chief Rabbi and enormous deference was paid to him. Nathan's successor, his son Hermann, found himself in a much weaker posi? tion than his father. Hermann came to England at the age of six, and grew up among the London Jewish community. After rabbinical studies in Prague in the early 1860s, Hermann returned to England and was appointed minis? ter of the Bayswater Synagogue, a post he retained until his appointment as Chief Rabbi on his father's death in 1890.7 The lay leaders of London Jewry, who financed the community and appointed Hermann, had known him as a 3 See G. Alderman, Modern British Jewry (Oxford 1992) for a more detailed survey of the devel? opment of the religious institutions of Anglo-Jewry. 4 R.Apple, The Hampstead Synagogue (London 1967) n. 5 Ibid. 12. 6 Ibid. 14-15. 7 I. Finestein, Anglo-Jewry in Changing Times (London 1999) 215-17. 123</page><page sequence="4">Benjamin J. Elton young man, and even as a child. This affected relations in both directions. The lay leaders did not hold him in the awe in which they had held his father. Hermann felt respect for them despite his unhappiness about their low level of religious observance, for all that they were traditionally inclined. If Adler had religious battles to fight, which he did, they would provide no support; indeed they pressed him to relax his religious standards. This situ? ation persisted throughout Adler's Chief Rabbinate into that of Hertz, whose United Synagogue president was Robert Waley Cohen. Hertz and Waley Cohen had at times a highly acrimonious relationship, with Waley Cohen persistently calling on Hertz to relax the religious standards of the United Synagogue.8 This placed Adler and Hertz in a weak position, irre? spective of their personal strengths. The situation changed after the Second World War during the Chief Rabbinates of Brodie and Jakobovits, when men such as Isaac Wolfson, who were personally observant, took over the leadership of the United Synagogue. This was again a reflection of the changing nature of the community, by this time more observant as a result of Eastern European immigration in the inter war period. The phenomenon of different valid opinions in Jewish law is vital to understanding the issue of mixed choirs, since it gave rise to the particularly complex development of the law pertaining to men listening to women sing. Jewish law develops on the basis of abstract principles and previous rulings being applied to new situations. The first stage of that development begins with the Babylonian Talmud, compiled around the fifth century.9 A dictum concerning women's voices by Samuel, a second-century rabbi, is quoted twice in the course of the Talmud, once in Berakhot and once in Kiddushin. In Berakhot the rabbis are discussing the reciting of the Shema, the daily statement of Jewish monotheism. They rule that it is not permissible to recite it in the presence of a naked person, and quote four analogous cases, one of which comprises Samuel's statement kol be'isha ervah, which can be translated either 'the voice of an ervah? (a woman with whom a man may not have intercourse, that is, any one other than his wife) or, alternatively 'a woman's voice is a sexual incitement'.10 In the thousand years following the completion of the Talmud, three different schools of Jewish law interpreted the laws concerning women's voices in different ways. Most Franco-German scholars ruled that a man 8 J. M. Shaftesley, 'Biographical Sketch', in H. J. Zimmels, J. Rabbinowitz and I. Finestein (eds) Essays Presented to Chief Rabbi Israel Brodie on the Occasion of his Seventieth Birthday (London 1967) xxvii. 9 The parts of the discussion concerning the development of the law up to the nineteenth century rely heavily on S. Berman, 'Kol Isha', in L. Landman (ed.) Rabbi Joseph H. Lookstein Memorial Volume (New York 1980) 45-66. 10 Ibid. 45. 124</page><page sequence="5">Did the Chief Rabbinate move to the right? may not recite the Shema while listening to the voice of a woman.11 Some extended the prohibition to include reciting any sacred text, but limited it by ruling that the prohibition applied only when a woman is singing, rather than speaking.12 The opinion of the Provencal school was that the prohibi? tion applied to a woman speaking, in all situations.13 The issue was not the voice itself, but the relationship that might be established as a result of conversation. Some extended this prohibition on conversation to hearing women sing in all circumstances.14 However, they also introduced a caveat: the law is not applicable to one who 'knows of himself that... his inclina? tion is not such as to lead him to ... sexual arousal through such matters'.15 In other words, this is not a prohibition, but advice contingent on certain circumstances. This principle was used by later interpreters and became crucial in the formulation of lenient opinions regarding mixed choirs. The Spanish school of the period, led by Maimonides (i 135-1204), took an approach similar to that prevalent in Provence. Maimonides prohibited a man from engaging in conversation with a woman with whom he may not have relations.16 These three main opinions were codified by Rabbi Joseph Karo (1488 1575) in his Shulhan Arukh, which has become accepted as authoritative by the vast majority of Jews. Karo gives three separate laws derived from Samuel's dictum. First, that a man may not enquire of the welfare of a woman (Maimonides).17 Secondly, that a man may not converse with a woman (Maimonides and Provencal scholars).18 Thirdly, that it is prefer? able not to hear a woman sing while reciting the Shema (German scholars). These different laws are based on different readings of the talmudic state? ments and are not mutually compatible, because Maimonides and the Provencal school read Samuel's statement as referring to speech in all contexts, while German scholars read it as referring to singing in the context of prayer or study. Later scholars sought to make all three rulings compatible, and began to interpret all the restrictions as referring to singing. The new reading of the law was most succinctly expressed by Rabbi Abele Gumbiner (?-i683) when he wrote 'the singing voice of a married woman is always forbidden to be heard, but her speaking voice is permitted'.19 Thus, freedom was given to men to talk to women, but a ban was imposed on hearing them sing. The idea of earlier scholars that the issue was distraction or the potential for inappropriate relationships was replaced by the idea that a woman's singing voice is inherently indecent. So, when in 1814 the Vienna Synagogue asked the great Hungarian Rabbi Moses Sofer (1763-1840) whether they could 11 Ibid. 46. 12 Ibid. 47. 13 Ibid. 51. 14 Ibid. 52. 15 Ibid. 16 Ibid. 54. 17 Ibid. 57. 18 Ibid. 56. 19 Ibid. 60. 125</page><page sequence="6">Benjamin J. Elton have a mixed choir at a reception (i.e., not during a service), he refused permission.20 The blanket prohibition against hearing a woman sing, even outside the synagogue, was restated in the early twentieth century by the Lithuanian decisor Rabbi Yehiel Meir HaKohen Kagan (1839-1933) in his authoritative halakhic work, Mishnah Berurah.21 Thus, by 1814 the restrictions as understood by the earlier rabbis had been significantly changed and extended by rabbis active after the publica? tion by Karo of the Shulhan Arukh, and rabbis thereafter worked on the basis of those restrictions. At least, that has been the generally understood interpretation; but there may be scope to suggest a different approach to the evolution of practice in this area. The post-Karo rabbis who discussed this question in published works were all Eastern, rather than Western European. Eastern European rabbis tended to write down halakhic deci? sions, while those in the West - Germany, Austria, England - generally did not. Since the virtual destruction of Western European Jewry in the Holocaust, and the subsequent rise to dominance of the Eastern brand of Judaism taken to England and America before the Second World War by Jews fleeing persecution, much of the oral Western halakhic tradition has been lost.22 There are indications that Western rabbis might not have shared the opinion of Eastern scholars that the ban on women singing should be extended to all situations. It has been contended, for example, that Austrian religious leaders had no objection to hearing women sing in concerts, but there has been little or no firm evidence to this effect, only occasional reports based on oral traditions.23 There are therefore indications that the normative halakhic situation in Western Europe might correspond to that of the Ra'avia in the eleventh century, who was a leader of the Western European school of Rishonim. The Jewish Chronicle of 24 April 1896 contains a letter from F. B. Spiers, son of Dayan Dov Ber Spiers of the Court of the Chief Rabbi. Dayan Spiers had delivered a sermon against mixed choirs and had been attacked for doing so by supporters of the innovation.24 But while F. B. Spiers defended his father and joined his condemnation of mixed choirs in the synagogue, he 20 Ibid. It should be remembered, however, that Rabbi Sofer held to the principle 'anything new is forbidden by theTorah.' 21 Y. M. Kagan, Mishna Berurah (Warsaw and Piotrokow 1883-1907) vol. 2,109. 22 For a full discussion of the possible effects of the Holocaust on the halakhic tradition see H. Soloveitchik, 'Rupture and Reconstruction: The Transformation of Contemporary Orthodoxy' Tradition XXVIII4 (1994) 64-130. 23 Dr Meir Shinnar has written 'my father's rav [halakhic authority] who was a dayan from Austria... complained about... [those] who thought the normal activities of life - going to the opera and going to the beach - were assur [forbidden.]', Mail-Jewish Digest archive, XXIX 77. 24 F. B. Spiers, Jewish Chronicle (hereafter JC) 24 April 1896, pp. 16-17. I2?</page><page sequence="7">Did the Chief Rabbinate move to the right? also wrote that he attended concerts in which women sang.25 It would be extraordinary for a dayan's son publicly to announce that he happily broke the law in one respect while trying to defend it in another. The solution, perhaps, is that Dayan Spiers and his son did not believe that there was an objection to women singing outside the synagogue. That interpretation is supported by Joseph Levy's assertion in the same issue of the Jewish Chronicle that 'orthodox people do not object to listen to ladies' voices outside the synagogue and even poskim . . . remark that the injunction . . . only refers to divine worship'.26 This interpretation would solve a number of apparent anomalies in Anglo-Jewish practice regarding women singing. For example, Marcus Hast, cantor of the Great Synagogue, wrote and conducted public perform? ances of oratorios such as The Death of Moses with parts for a soprano and a mezzo-soprano.27 It would be odd if he had done so without believing he had halakhic sanction. Other interesting evidence on the Anglo-Jewish position on kol Hsha comes from one of the eccentricities of the standard book of United Synagogue music, The Voice of Prayer and Praise. This volume contains adaptations of oratorio pieces by Mendelssohn (a melody from Elijah adapted to fit the last verse of Psalm 145, sung before the return of the Torah scrolls to the ark), Handel (whose 'See the conquering heroes come' from. Judas Maccahaeus was adapted for part of Psalm 118, sung as part of the Hallel service) and others.28 The arrangers, including Rabbi Francis L. Cohen, a minister in the United Synagogue, either knew the music only from reading the scores, or attended performances and heard women sing. If the latter, then either Cohen was sinning and publicly admitting to the fact, or he was indicating that there was no problem. Having said that, Cohen later introduced a mixed choir at the Great Synagogue in Sydney, so may not be a wholly reliable guide to normative halakhic practice. The most important evidence of this halakhic phenomenon, however, comes from Chief Rabbi Hermann Adler. Although, as will be seen, Adler was strongly ooposed to women singing in liturgical contexts, he did not object to female vocalists outside the synagogue. I have found numerous examples of Adler attending concerts at which women sang. In the early 1890s the Revd (later Rabbi) F. L. Cohen gave a series of lectures on Jewish music to the Jewish Historical Society of England, in which his wife sang the musical examples. At the end of one lecture in 1893 Adler delivered the vote of thanks. He said: " loia. 17. 26 J. Levy, ibid. 16. 27 M. Hast, The Death of Moses (London 1895). 28 F. L. Cohen and D. M. Davis (eds) The Voice of Prayer and Praise (London 1899). 127</page><page sequence="8">Benjamin J. Elton 'Allow me to express my extreme gratification with what I have listened to tonight, to the very fascinating testimony of our friend Mr Cohen and also to bear testimony to this point - that in her singing of the music of the Synagogue Mrs. Cohen did in no way embellish it, but rendered it with faith? ful and perfect fidelity.'29 One might argue that Adler was here relying on the opinion that there is no problem in cases of divrei kodesh, holy words, for example, of Torah or prayer. However, there are at least two problems with this interpretation. Firstly, the divrei kodesh leniency made its first appearance only after the Second World War, in the writings of Rabbi Y. Y Weinberg.30 Secondly, at a second lecture, in December, at which Adler again delivered the vote of thanks, Mrs Cohen also sang secular songs, albeit by Jewish composers, such as 'If that high world' and 'The wild gazelle' by I. Nathan.31 Another purely secular example is the Russo-Jewish concert given in London on n March 1893. The Jewish Chronicle records both the concert and Adler's attendance at it.32 Furthermore, the newspaper does not comment on Adler's attendance, which suggests that it was nothing out of the ordinary. It simply says: 'A highly successful concert was given last Saturday evening . . . The entertainment included . . . addresses by the Chief Rabbi. . . Miss A. Bear sang beautifully.'33 The newspaper also records that Adler spoke in Yiddish, which indicates the nature of those who attended. Today the Jewish Chronicle would report the Chief Rabbi's attendance at such an event in different terms. It is clear, then, that Adler did listen to women singing in non-liturgical contexts and that this was not considered strange or unusual. The next question is whether Adler can be accepted as a reliable source of halakhic precedent. This is not the place to go into detail on Adler's piety and learn? ing. However, it is beyond reasonable doubt that the son and spiritual heir of the Chief Rabbi Nathan Marcus Adler, an acknowledged rabbinical author? ity, should be either ignorant or halakhically careless, especially as Hermann Adler himself studied at a European yeshivah, received his semihah from a number of renowned European rabbis and was vocal in his defence of halakhah as Chief Rabbi.34 A good example of this fidelity to halakhah is Adler's reaction to demands for ritual reform in 1892. Adler prefaced his decisions by stating that 'the following principle has guided my decisions. I have given my sanction to those alterations which do not violate any statute 29 Quoted in a personal communication: Raymond Apple, 13 March 2002. 30 M. Z. Sokol (ed.) Engaging Modernity (Northvale 1997) 169. 31 JC2iDec. 1894, p. 14. 32 Ibid. 17 March 1893, p. 8. 33 Ibid. 34 I. Finestein (see n. 7) 215-17. 128</page><page sequence="9">Did the Chief Rabbinate move to the right? {Din) of traditional Judaism.'35 In the cases of the more controversial deci? sions Adler quoted the source for his ruling, to demonstrate its halakhic validity. For example, he cited the Maharshal in support of his decision to sanction the reading of the Ten Commandments at Shabbat morning serv? ices, and quoted the Tur to legitimize his decision to move the shofar blast at the end of Yom Kippur from after Neilah to after Ma'ariv.36 Adler's learn? ing appears to have been acknowledged and appreciated by the traditional community of London Jews, which might today be described as charedi. Every year Adler gave a traditional talmudic discourse, a drashah, on Shabbat Hagadol and Shabbat Shuvah at the Great Synagogue in the City of London. The Jewish Chronicle reported the Shabbat Shuvah drashah of 1896 in the following terms: '[The drashah attracted] the highest rabbinic schol? arship in this country ... venerable patriarchs, bachurim fresh from the Pale. Rabbis, dayanim, maggidim . . . filled to overflowing the benches round the pulpit.'37 In short, Hermann Adler's learning and loyalty to halakhah should be doubted no more or less than any other centrist Orthodox rabbinical leader of the late nineteenth century. The evidence is therefore strong enough to conjecture that in nine? teenth-century England, the normative halakhic position was that it was permitted to listen to women singing outside the synagogue and its service. Moreover, this position may be based on a Western tradition going back to the Ra'avia in the eleventh century. This halakhic position has been lost because of the dual influence of the destruction of much of the Western halakhic tradition generally, in the Holocaust, and the rise to dominance of Jews from the Eastern tradition as the halakhic authorities for Anglo-Jewry. Even within the context of the synagogue service the Chief Rabbis would have been aware of leniencies on which they could rely if necessary. The Hatan Sofer, the grandson of Rabbi Moses Sofer, advanced the opinion in the 1880s that mixed choirs, as opposed to female solos, were permitted on the basis of another Talmudic principle: that 'two voices are not heard' as individual voices. That is, if two or more people are singing the listener only hears an amalgam. Thus if one is listening to a mixed choir one is not actu? ally listening to the voice of a woman, because one cannot distinguish an individual voice at all.38 Hermann Adler was probably aware of this opinion, which may have been a decisive factor in the way he reacted to calls for mixed choirs. The most important permissive treatment of mixed singing after the Second World War came from Rabbi Yehiel Weinberg (1884-1966), who 35 JCiJulyi892,p.i7. 36 Ibid. 17-18. 37 Ibid. 18 Sept. 1896, p. 18. 38 Quoted in a personal communication: James Kennard, 10 Oct. 2001. 129</page><page sequence="10">Benjamin jf. Elton worked in Germany and Switzerland, but came from Poland.39 He was asked by Jechurun, a Jewish youth movement in France, whether boys and girls could sing hymns together. Weinberg replied giving permission on three counts. First he restated the Hatan Sofer's argument that 'two voices are not heard', secondly he re-stated the idea that a woman's voice is not inherently sexual, and although it could be sexually arousing, it could not be so when used to sing hymns, and therefore in that context was permissible. Finally, he argued that even if the case of Jechurun did come under the prohibition there were reasons for suspending its application. Weinberg argued that under these circumstances the prohibition was not so much a law as a 'righteous custom and practice of modesty', and could be overrid? den if the circumstances demanded it. In the case of Jechurun he argued that, as alienation from Judaism was a real possibility if the movement was not allowed to continue, concerns about women singing could be set aside.40 This lenient opinion, and that of the Hatan Sofer, would have been well known to the Chief Rabbis Brodie and Jakobovits. The evolution of the law on women singing can be seen to have devel? oped along divergent lines, followed by a central codification, which led, among at least some rabbis, to an increased stringency. Following the estab? lishment of the greater level of prohibition, attempts were made to curtail the severity of the law in some respects. It was against this confused and sometimes contradictory backdrop, and within the context of a complex legal system and the peculiar nature of the English community, that the Chief Rabbis operated. In the 1830s a choir was established at the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue in London, and in 1841 the Great Synagogue (German Jews) also instituted a choir. Both choirs were composed of men and boys. By the late 1840s a choir was a central part of the ritual of the synagogue, as we can see from N. M. Adler's Laws and Regulations for all the Synagogues in the British Empire, which specified that responses (amen etc.) were to be chanted 'by the Choir, or, in its absence, by the Congregation'.41 At this point all choirs at synagogues under the authority of the Chief Rabbi were exclusively male. But in 1890 Stepney Green Synagogue adopted a mixed choir, in 1892 Hampstead Synagogue was formed with a mixed choir; the New West End Synagogue acquired a mixed choir in 1895, as did the East London Synagogue in 1896 and the Bayswater Synagogue in 1915. The trend continued and by the late 1940s ten London synagogues had mixed choirs (Stepney Green, Borough, Hammersmith, Hampstead, New West End, Bayswater, Central, West Ham, North London and the 39 M. Z. Sokol (ed.) (see n. 30) 169. 40 S. Berman (see n. 10) 63. 41 N. M. Adler, Laws and Regulations for all the Synagogues in the British Empire (London 1847) 12. 130</page><page sequence="11">Did the Chief Rabbinate move to the right? Western).42 Brondesbury had a mixed choir in the 1930s and during the same period Hendon had a mixed choir for weddings.43 Outside London, Brighton and Plymouth Synagogues, the Liverpool Old Hebrew Congregation and the Birmingham, Glasgow and the Sheffield Hebrew Congregations all had mixed choirs in the 1930s and 1940s.44 The Chief Rabbi attended synagogues with mixed choirs until about 1959.45 Then came the decline. For example, Central Synagogue disbanded its mixed choir in 1961, the New West End mixed choir was dissolved in 1963, by which time only four mixed choirs remained in London.46 On 28 June 1986 the last mixed-choir service in London, at Hampstead, took place.47 By that time the only remaining mixed choir in an Orthodox synagogue in Britain was at the Liverpool Old Hebrew Congregation, where it continues to sing. There is a general consensus in explanations given for this rise and fall, in newspapers, academic histories or interviews with participants, that between the 1950s and the 1980s the United Synagogue, and in particular its ecclesiastical authority, the Chief Rabbinate, shifted sharply to the right. Also that at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century the Chief Rabbis Hermann Adler and Hertz adopted a much more tolerant, liberal and 'enlightened' attitude than their successors, Brodie and Jakobovits. It has been argued that Adler and Hertz authorized the use of mixed choirs, which were then banned by their successors as a violation of Jewish law, and that Adler in particular was a weak character who allowed himself to be bullied into submission by the lay leaders of the community. Finestein makes the point that Adler permitted mixed choirs in order to keep Hampstead Synagogue within the United Synagogue, but in doing so compromised the adherence of the United Synagogue to Jewish law.48 Alderman has argued that Adler was successful at keeping British Jewry officially Orthodox, but in doing so permitted the contravention of Jewish law.49 Just as it is alleged that Adler was weak, so it is argued that Brodie was bullied into condemning mixed choirs by an increasingly right wing Beth Din, which held to a strict interpretation of the Law.50 42 jfC 8 March 1963, p. 12; personal communication, Phoebe White, 13 July 2001; interview, David Fallman, 5 July 2001. 43 JfC 16 May 1930, p. 19; G. Alderman (see n. 3) 4. 44 I, Finestein (see n. 7) 233; personal communications, Ruth Raisman, 1 August 2001; H. Zeffert, 8 July 2001; V. D. Lipman, A History of the Jews in Britain since 1858 (Leicester 1990), 113; personal communication, S. Burns, 10 July 2001. 45 JC 8 March 1963, p. 12. 46 Ibid. 47 Ibid. 27 June 1986, p. 1. 48 I. Finestein (see n. 7) 247. 49 G. Alderman (see n. 3) 108-9. 50 Interview with Gary Fine, 15 July 2001. i3i</page><page sequence="12">Benjamin J. Elton On the question of the introduction of mixed choirs, Lipman has written in his social history A History of the Jews in Britain since 1858 that 'the admission of female voices into the choir, at first forbidden but later permitted by Dr. Hermann Adler, did contravene rabbinic codes'.51 Lipman is here making two points, that Adler authorized mixed choirs and that his authorization broke Jewish law. Meirovitch has argued that 'Hertz championed the religious rights of Jewish women by permitting mixed choirs'.52 In a defence of Hertz's Orthodoxy Martin Stern wrote in reply that 'Chief Rabbi Hermann Adler had permitted mixed choirs . . . Hertz merely acquiesced in the status quo'.53 Similar claims can be found in other publications, principally the Jewish Chronicle. At the time of the abolition of the mixed choir at the New West Synagogue in 1963 it commented that 'neither Dr Hermann Adler . . . nor Dr Hertz objected to mixed liturgical singing'.54 For many years the lay leaders of the United Synagogue supported this claim. In 1943 the Hammersmith Synagogue was considering adopting a mixed choir and sought the advice of the United Synagogue. The honorary officers wrote to the synagogue wardens saying 'by the ruling of the Chief Rabbinate mixed choirs have been authorised in the synagogues of the United Synagogue'.55 There is even one published reference to a member of the ministry of the United Synagogue asserting that the early Chief Rabbis had no objections: in the context of a debate on the introduction of a mixed choir into the Golders Green Synagogue in 1937 the minister, the Revd Livingstone, pointed out that the Chief Rabbis had not vetoed mixed choirs.56 Former choristers, ministers and honorary officers share the impression that Adler and Hertz had no objection to mixed choirs. Rabbi Dr Louis Jacobs, minister of the New West End Synagogue 1954-9 (at a time when it had a mixed choir), expressed the opinion that Adler believed that there was no problem with a woman singing during worship unless she is 'singing a secular song when the man is reading the Shema, not when she, too, is singing the words of the prayer'.57 Jacobs based his opinion on the account he was given of Adler's thinking by Brodie. Victor Tunkel, a United Synagogue chorister from the 1940s onwards, said that 'Hertz didn't mind at all... Brodie didn't seem to mind'.58 Similarly Carol Jowell, a chorister at 51 V. D. Lipman (see n. 44) 92. 52 7C27 May 1994, p. 25. 53 M. Stern, 'Masorti Revisionism Refuted' in Le'eyla (1995) 21 ? 54 JC 8 March 1963, p. 12. 55 United Synagogue archives ACC/27/2/1/126. 56 JfC 26 November 1937, p. 12. 57 Personal communication, L. Jacobs, 3 July 2001. 58 Interview with Victor Tunkel, 18 July 2001. 132</page><page sequence="13">Did the Chief Rabbinate move to the right? the East London Synagogue from 1945 to 1957, stated that 'Hertz never said anything'.59 Dudley Cohen, the Hampstead choirmaster in 1957?63, said that 'for years and years it was permitted'.60 Jaclyn Chernett attributed Adler's authorization of mixed choirs to the weakness of his position vis-a? vis the lay leadership of the United Synagogue, who supported mixed choirs.61 Other respondents simply assumed that the practice was accept? able, and that later restrictions were unnecessary stringencies imposed by reactionary religious leaders. The accepted opinion, then, is that Adler and Hertz did not object to mixed choirs in synagogue. The words 'authorized', 'condoned' and 'permitted' appear repeatedly. How do these sources explain the dissolution of the mixed choirs of the United Synagogue? Published studies of Anglo Jewry have not discussed the decline of mixed choirs as a specific phenom? enon. It seems that the only published work that seeks to explain the abolition of mixed choirs is Louis Jacob's autobiography Helping with Inquiries, in which he states that 'with the removal... of the mixed choir at the Hampstead Synagogue .. . the New London Synagogue Qacobs's syna? gogue] became the last bastion of the old Anglo-Jewish tolerance and reasonableness'.62 In other words, the mixed choir was abolished because the United Synagogue, and Chief Rabbinate, became intolerant and unrea? sonable. Although Jacobs has a considerable axe to grind, having been expelled from the ministry of the United Synagogue by Brodie in 1964 for his published views, his analysis of the decline of mixed choirs is shared by a number of other sources. The Jewish Chronicle documented the decline of mixed choirs. In 1958 a speaker at a meeting at the Western Synagogue declared that Brodie had ruled against mixed choirs.63 Then in 1963 the paper reported that although he had previously attended services at which mixed choirs sang, he was no longer willing to do so.64 In 1972 the Jewish Chronicle revealed that Chief Rabbi Jakobovits would not authorize the appointment of a new minister at Hampstead until the mixed choir was abolished. The same issue published a letter from Ewen Montagu, a former president of the United Synagogue, which implied that the ministers of the United Synagogue were behind the proposed abolition of mixed choirs.65 As late as 1986 a correspondent attributed the final abolition of the Hampstead mixed choir to the changed 59 Interview with Carol Jowell, 7 July 2001. 60 Interview with Dudley Cohen, 19 Aug. 2001. 61 Interview with Jaclyn Chernett, 12 Aug. 2001. 62 L. Jacobs, Helping with Inquiries (London 1987) 270. 63 JC 27 June 1958, p. 26. 64 Ibid. 8 March 1963, p. 12. 65 Ibid. 15 Sept. 1972, p. 27. 133</page><page sequence="14">Benjamin J. Elton attitude of the United Synagogue.66 In each case the attitude of the incum? bent Chief Rabbi was compared to that of his prewar predecessors, and the point made that the attitude of the Chief Rabbinate had moved to the right. My respondents share this impression. Sylvia Lee wrote that the practice of mixed choirs 'only stopped when the new Chief Rabbi took umbrage against us women'.67 Gary Fine said 'the United Synagogue went very right wing... while Israel Brodie was Chief Rabbi' and suggested that this was due to external pressure from 'the Beth Din'.68 Carol Jowell said that Chief Rabbi Brodie moved to abolish mixed choirs 'all of a sudden'.69 Monty Goldstein also identified the ending of mixed choirs with a wider right-wing trend.70 Jaclyn Chernett, a chorister at the New West End in the 1950s, attributed the rightwards movement to the changes in the community caused by the Second World War.71 This view of a general move to the right appears in other sources. In his 1962 survey of Anglo-Jewish religious life Norman Cohen drew two portraits. The first was of the Anglo-Jewish minister of the 1920s and 1930s, 'Reverend [that is, without rabbinic ordination] X' who 'carried his umbrella on the Sabbath [in violation of the law] and was very broadminded about the dietary laws'. He compared this character with the contemporary United Synagogue minister, now 'Rabbi Y' who 'comports himself in an orthodox pattern'. Cohen talked also of the inevitability of the 'ascendancy of the right wing' in the United Synagogue.72 Meirovitch has written of Hertz's 'affiliation as a Conservative [as opposed to Orthodox] Jew'.73 One piece of evidence used by Meirovitch to support this contention is Hertz's supposed authorization of mixed choirs.74 It should be made clear that the while these views were dominant, they were not universal. For example, J. A. Field wrote to the Jewish Chronicle in 1972 expressing the opinion that mixed choirs had been 'opposed openly by the Chief Rabbinate since . . . 1892'.75 Similarly Jakobovits wrote that his opposition to mixed choirs was shared by his predecessors going back to Hermann Adler.76 Nevertheless the overwhelming view remains otherwise. 66 Ibid. 20 June 1986, p. 22. 67 Personal communication, Sylvia Lee, 13 July 2001. Although Lee is referring to the early 1960s, there was no new Chief Rabbi between 1948 and 1967. 68 Interview with Gary and Ruta Fine, 15 July 2001. 69 Interview with Carol Jowell, 7 July 2001. 70 Interview with Monty Goldstein, 12 July 2001. 71 Interview with Jaclyn Chernett, 8 Aug. 2001. 72 N. Cohen, 'Trends in Anglo-Jewish Religious Life' inj. Gould and S. Esh (eds) Trends in Jewish Life in Modern Britian (London 1964) 46. 73 H. Meirovitch, Vindication of Judaism (New York 1998) 13. 74 JC27 May 1994, p. 25. 75 Ibid. 22 Sept. 1972, p. 23. 76 J. M. Cohen (ed.) Dear Chief Rabbi (New Jersey 1995) 92-3. 134</page><page sequence="15">Did the Chief Rabbinate move to the right? It is clear then that the dominant thesis is that Hermann Adler and Hertz permitted mixed choirs in contravention of Jewish law. Furthermore, that Adler did so under pressure, due to his weak position in relation to the lay leadership of the United Synagogue. The change in policy under Brodie was sudden and the result of pressure placed on Brodie by right-wing elements in the community. Finally, the change was part of a wider trend in the United Synagogue, and specifically in the Chief Rabbinate, away from tolerance and flexibility towards intolerance and rigidity, from lukewarm Orthodoxy or conservatism, to right-wing Orthodoxy. I shall now assess whether these impressions are correct, whether this shift did take place, whether the Chief Rabbis did change their position on mixed choirs and in general, or whether the picture is more complex and subtle than the prevailing historiography suggests. The prevailing opinion is that Adler and Hertz permitted mixed choirs. The evidence suggests that they did not. In May 1896 Adler wrote to Joseph Jacobs to deny that he had authorized mixed choirs, stating that 'the Chairman of the Choir Committee [of the East London Synagogue, which had just formed a mixed choir] is in error in supposing that I have sanc? tioned the formation of female choirs in synagogues. It is true that there are female voices in the choir of Hampstead Synagogue, but my sanction for this arrangement was never asked.'77 Yet while Adler did not sanction mixed choirs, could one not argue that he had implicitly done so by knowing of their existence and not stopping them? There is good evidence that this would be a faulty interpretation, and to understand why we need to look back to 1880. In March 1880 the Central Synagogue requested permission to intro? duce a mixed choir.78 A week after the proposal was made the Jewish Chronicle reported that Chief Rabbi Nathan Adler 'declined to give his assent' to the introduction of a mixed choir. This refusal was oral and not a formal written ruling.79 The matter was simply dropped for, as a member of the synagogue wrote to the Jewish Chronicle on 9 April, the Chief Rabbi's objection was 'incontestable'.80 Similarly, in 1883 the Borough Synagogue moved to adopt a mixed choir, but when word came through that the Chief Rabbi objected the issue was again dropped.81 In 1892 (when Hampstead adopted its mixed choir) and 1896, therefore, Hermann Adler did no less that his father had done in 1880 and 1883. In fact he did more; Nathan had 77 JC 15 May 1896, p. 10. 78 Ibid. 5 March 1880, p. 11. 79 Ibid. i2Marchi88o,pn. 80 Ibid.9Aprili88o,p.6. 81 Ibid. 3 August 1883, p. 7. 135</page><page sequence="16">Benjamin J. Elton merely sent word that he did not grant his sanction, but Hermann publicly declared that he disapproved of mixed choirs and had decided to withhold his sanction. Further, Hermann Adler placed his objections on paper, writ? ing to the East London Synagogue 'if the present arrangement continues there is reason to apprehend that.. . solos will be sung by ladies of the choir - a display which I have uniformly deprecated as being contrary to the rules which regulate our Divine Service'.82 The Board replied as follows: 'the Board notes with satisfaction that you do not declare the introduction of ladies' voices to be contrary to Jewish law'.83 It is instructive to compare this response with that given to Nathan Adler in 1880 and 1883. In the first instance, as soon as Nathan Adler inti? mated his opposition the matter was dropped. In the second instance a letter from the Chief Rabbi explicitly stating his personal dislike of the innovation prompted an audacious, if not insolent, reply. This throws into doubt Finestein's contention that Hermann 'was treated almost universally with special deference'.84 In fact, although Hermann Adler enjoyed the offi? cial prerogatives of the Chief Rabbinate he did not possess the commanding authority of his father, Nathan Adler; nor was he shown the respect that had been shown to Nathan, and this made Hermann's personal authority precarious. Of course the Board was right. Hermann Adler had not laid down an explicit ban, and the reason he did not is implied by the East London reply. Had Hermann Adler ruled against mixed choirs and had Hampstead and East London gone ahead in any case (which considering the scant respect which East London showed Adler, seems to have been a danger) Hermann's delicate authority would have been destroyed. Had that happened and the position of the Chief Rabbinate been damaged as a result, the religious guidance of English Jews would have fallen to individual ministers, like Stern, the minister of East London who unambiguously supported mixed choirs. Hermann Adler desperately wanted to protect the dignity of his office and the Orthodoxy of English Judaism. So he never authorized mixed choirs, but neither did he ban them when the ban would have been ignored and the Chief Rabbinate and English Orthodoxy undermined. Moreover, Adler did not need to ban mixed choirs explicitly to fulfil his duty in opposing them. According to the byelaws of the United Synagogue the form of worship in constituent synagogues 'shall be under the super? vision and control of the Chief Rabbi'. The clear spirit of this regulation is that synagogues of the United Synagogue may not institute any religious practices of which the Chief Rabbi disapproves, and Adler made clear his 82 Ibid. 17 April 1896, p. 10. 83 Ibid. 84 I. Finestein (see n. 7) 218. 136</page><page sequence="17">Did the Chief Rabbinate move to the right? disapproval of mixed choirs.85 The situation was thus subtly but impor? tantly different from the picture painted by Raymond Apple who argued that Adler 'tacitly accepted' the mixed choir at Hampstead, and from Finestein's opinion that Hermann 'abided' by Hampstead's decision.86 The impression given is not of a weak man, therefore, as Hermann is often described, but a strong man in a weak position. The same case can be made for Adler's successor as Chief Rabbi, J. H. Hertz. He also privately opposed mixed choirs; indeed he removed women from the choir of the Johannesburg synagogue on assuming its ministry in 1898.87 He made it clear that he did not approve of mixed choirs when asked, while also, at least in the early years of his Chief Rabbinate, withholding his veto.88 Even towards the end of his Chief Rabbinate, when he was secure enough to issue a private ruling against mixed choirs, he never condemned them publicly.89 An obvious objection to this reassessment of Adler and Hertz's attitude towards mixed choirs is that if they felt that mixed synagogue choirs were contrary to Jewish law they should have fought all out against them, and certainly should not have attended mixed-choir synagogues, which they did.90 However, as seen, the Jewish legal picture is far from clear and there was room for manoeuvre. Adler and Hertz may have been personally opposed to mixed choirs, but they knew that there were lenient opinions on which to rely if necessary. Adler's statement that female solos were prohib? ited suggests that he knew of the Hatan Sofer's opinion that 'two voices cannot be heard' and felt he could rely on that. It is unlikely that Adler relied on the idea that women's voices could not be sexually distracting if they were singing a sacred text, as this 'words of prayer' leniency only emerged with Weinberg's ruling to Jechurun after the Second World War, more than thirty years after Adler's death. Another important point is that Adler was not always informed of the introduction of a mixed choir, and on at least one occasion attended a mixed-choir service and thought he was listening to men and boys: 'I did not know that female singers were in the choir gallery at the . . . service of the New West End Synagogue'. The position of the choir at the New West 85 Byelaws of the United Synagogue, Chief Rabbinate Archives ACC/2712/04/03. 86 R. Apple, 'Mixed Choirs in the Synagogue' (unpublished MS 1987) 7; I. Feinstein (see n. 7) 247. 87 R. Apple, 'Mixed Choirs in Jewish Worship' (unpublished MS 2001) 12. 88 Ibid. 9 (in 1934). 89 Letter from Hertz's secretary, 14 Jan. 1944. Chief Rabbinate Archives ACC/3400/2/2/69. 90 Both Adler's and Hertz's collections of sermons contain sermons preached at mixed-choir synagogues. H. Adler, Anglo-Jewish Memories (London 1909) 261. J. H. Hertz, Early and Late (Hindhead, Surrey 1943) 35. 137</page><page sequence="18">Benjamin J. Elton End meant that it was perfectly possible not to see it.91 This trend of keep? ing the Chief Rabbi ignorant continued. For example, at the East London Synagogue the women usually stood in front of the men in the choir loft and there were female solos. When the Chief Rabbi visited, however, the women stood behind the men and there were no female solos.92 In the case of the North London Synagogue, in which after the Second World War the mixed choir stood on the reader's platform, the Chief Rabbi never attended at all.93 It is hard to rule on the permissibility of a practice when one does not know, either 'officially' or in any other sense, that it is taking place. There is good reason to conclude, then, that Adler and Hertz were not so much breaking the law as exploiting a leniency. Leniencies, of course, cannot simply be invoked at will. Any deviation from optimal practice has to have some justification,and Adler and Hertz had a number of justifica? tions. I have noted how fragile the Chief Rabbi's authority was after the death of N. M. Adler. In order to maintain the leadership of a dominant United Synagogue by an Orthodox Chief Rabbi, his successors had to tread a delicate path. Apple has written that 'the founders of the [Hampstead] Synagogue had wanted a modified service and only on that condition had they agreed to join the United Synagogue'.94 In other words, unless the Chief Rabbi made some concessions, they would remove themselves from his jurisdiction and he would lose all control over and contact with them. If Hampstead had not joined the United Synagogue it is likely that the syna? gogue would have become involved in unambiguous contraventions of Jewish law. Indeed there was a direct precedent for such an occurrence. In 1841 the ruling body of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews' Congregation in London failed to authorize some quite minor changes to the liturgy. A partial result was the foundation of the Reform West London Synagogue, which, freed from all Orthodox control, proceeded to introduce a raft of other changes, including the introduction of the organ into the synagogue and the abolition of the second day of festivals.95 The retention of Hampstead and similar synagogues within the Orthodox fold was impor? tant for ensuring that individual Jews continued to attend an Orthodox as opposed to a Reform synagogue. As Dudley Cohen said of Hampstead in the 1950s and 1960s, T liked it [Hampstead]... I'm not observant'. In other words, Hampstead attracted to an Orthodox synagogue people who might otherwise not have gone to a synagogue at all, let alone an Orthodox one.96 91 Letter from Adler to Samuel Montagu, 2 April 1895, Chief Rabbinate Archives ACC/2805/3/2/9. 92 Interview with Monty Goldstein, 12 July 2001. 93 Interview with David Fallman, 5 July 2001. 94 R. Apple (see n. 4) 12. 95 G Alderman (see n. 3) 35. 96 Interview with Dudley Cohen, 19 August 2001. 138</page><page sequence="19">Did the Chief Rabbinate move to the right? If Adler could rely on a leniency in order to prevent a wholesale infringe? ment of the law, either by individuals or entire communities, then his deci? sion to do so is understandable from an Orthodox point of view. Apple makes the point about keeping Hampstead in the United Synagogue and goes on to say 'Hermann Adler may have regarded the condonation of a mixed choir as the lesser of two evils'. However, Adler's approach was something less than full 'condonation' and the presence of a mixed choir was only an evil in the sense that it was not ideal, not that it was unambigu? ously against the law. However, Adler's personal standards remained rigor? ous. At the foundation-stone laying ceremony for Hampstead, which Adler led personally, he insisted that the choir be wholly male.97 Furthermore, there were more issues at stake than merely the departure of Hampstead from the Orthodox fold.98 For example, the use of choirboys from the East End. It was the practice of synagogues in the West End to pay Jewish choirboys to travel from the East End on the Sabbath, in contraven? tion of Jewish law. The matter was brought up at a meeting of the members of St John's Wood Synagogue, where the practice was followed: Mr Blainbury: 'How do other West End synagogues manage [to get boys]?' Mr Amholz: 'Pretty much as we do.' In other words the practice of paying choirboys to travel and break the Sabbath was common.99 By turning a blind eye to women replacing boys Adler may have hoped that that practice would end. Again the contest was between a non-ideal but acceptable situa? tion and a completely unacceptable situation. Less decisive but still impor? tant was the question of attendance. In 1906 the Board of the Brondesbury Synagogue claimed that 'the management of the synagogue . . . must be a failure without a choir'.100 Adler was told that a choir was an attraction, and women were employed in preference to boys to improve the quality of the singing. This was disputed at the time: it may be that boys' voices are better in theory, but the voices of untrained boys were not better than those of women.101 Adler, and later Hertz, may have hoped the innovation would bring people to synagogue, where they could reach them and urge them to observe at least the basics of Jewish law, such as the Sabbath and prayer.102 In short Adler and Hertz had more important considerations than the mixed choir; the very survival of congregants'Judaism was in question. The issue can be brought into yet sharper relief by examining some comparative cases. The organ may under no circumstances be played on the 97 Ibid. 98 R.Apple (see 11.89)7. 99 JC 18 May 1900, p. 24. 100 S. Sharot, 'Synagogue Service in London 1870-1914', Jewish Journal of Sociology (1973) 71. 101 Committee of Choirmasters proposals reported in the 10 Jan. 1896, p. 10: 'ladies voices being in every way an improvement on the boys voices'. 102 H. Adler (see n. 92) 199; J. H. Hertz (see n. 90) 160. 139</page><page sequence="20">Benjamin J. Elton Sabbath - 'Producing a sound with a musical instrument is forbidden on the Sabbath'.103 When the members of Hampstead Synagogue pressed in 1895 for the introduction of an organ, Adler went on the attack.104 He went to Hampstead and declared in a sermon 'suffer not this sacred shrine to be branded hereafter as the place [of] . . . Sabbath desecration'.105 Similarly, when the officers of the Western Synagogue asked Hertz whether they could instal an organ he left them in no doubt of his views: 'a shul [syna? gogue] with an organ is reform, without it, [it] is orthodox ... it is against the Din [law]'.106 Unlike the issue of mixed choirs, when it came to the organ Adler and Hertz could find no way of compromising and remaining Orthodox. They chose Orthodoxy whatever the consequences. In Adler's case it can probably be said that he hoped that he could make enough concessions in other areas to compensate for his intransigence in the case of the organ. If this was his calculation then it proved accurate, because despite being refused permission to use an organ Hampstead was affiliated to the United Synagogue. One can reasonably conclude, then, on the basis of the evidence, that when the line had to be drawn Adler and Hertz were not afraid to draw it. Adler and Hertz demonstrated their Orthodoxy by their determination to exclude not only non-Orthodox practices, but also non-Orthodox people. In 1892 Adler refused to give a minister's licence to Morris Joseph who had argued in sermons that the Temple sacrifices should not be restored, thus contradicting a core belief of Orthodox Jewish faith. This despite the fact that Hampstead wanted him to be their minister.107 In 1915 Joseph Hockman, minister of the New West End Synagogue, expressed a number of unorthodox views and issued a call for dispensing with the Jewish dietary laws.108 Hertz was about to rescind Hockman's licence when the latter pre? empted him and resigned.109 These episodes demonstrate both Hertz and Adler's dedication to Orthodox theology and shows why they felt the posi? tion of the Chief Rabbinate had to be upheld. The alternative was the unhindered rise of men like Joseph and Hockman, and the erosion of Orthodoxy in Britain. Those cases in which Adler made concessions show how the Chief Rabbis worked hard to be lenient, but only within the parameters of Orthodoxy. 103 Shulhan Arukh, Orah Hayyim 338:1. 104 JfC4 Jan. 1895, P. 7 105 Ibid. 11 Jan. 1895, p. r3 106 Transcript of a meeting between the officers of the Western Synagogue and Hertz, 8 July 1919. Chief Rabbinate Archives ACC/2805/4/5/44. 107 R.Apple (seen. 4)25. 108 H. Meirovitch (see n. 73) 23. 109 J. M. Shaftesley, 'Religious Controversies' in S. S. Levin (ed.) A Century of Anglo-Jewish Life (London 1970) 107-8. 140</page><page sequence="21">Did the Chief Rabbinate move to the right? Hampstead did not want to pray aloud for the restoration of sacrifices, so suggested that since these words appear in the cantor's repetition of the Amidah prayer, which he recites aloud, the repetition should be omitted. Adler permitted this only after consultation with the Chief Rabbi of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews, who confirmed that the repetition was omit? ted in his own unimpeachably Orthodox, synagogue. Thus when Adler could concede he did, but only when that was consistent with Orthodoxy and there was a clear need. This flexibility was not unique to England. Mixed dancing is prohibited by Orthodox Judaism, as the sexes should not come into physical contact if unmarried. Yet until the 1970s mixed dancing has taken place at events held under Orthodox auspices in the USA because, according to the contemporary observer Eli Clark, 'the Gdolim [rabbinical leaders] of the time . . . felt there were more important battles to be fought'.110 Thus one can see an international pattern of flexibility and prioritization within Orthodoxy, when the times demanded it. Adler and Hertz had to make this judgement, and in doing so were guided by a close attention to Orthodox practice. They have been accused of weakness, but it can now be seen that they were not weak or even liberal. They kept to high standards as an ideal, but when there were other issues at stake they adopted a flexible position within Orthodoxy for the sake of a greater good. This points not to weakness but to shrewdness. What of the suggestion that a sudden change of policy occurred under Brodie, prompted by pressure from the right wing of the Jewish community on a weak Chief Rabbi? As seen, there was no fundamental change in policy; Adler and Hertz opposed mixed choirs and so did Brodie. The difference was that Brodie expressed himself more forcefully on the matter. He stopped going to synagogues with mixed choirs in about 1959.111 Dudley Cohen said that every time Brodie visited the synagogue he would ask 'have you done anything with that choir?' Cohen in fact resigned as choirmaster in 1963 because Brodie insisted on a male choir at the dedication service of some new synagogue buildings at which he would preside.112 The Central Synagogue disbanded its mixed choir in 1961 at the request of Brodie.113 Martin Lewin, who was active at the New West End in 1963, said that the synagogue disbanded its mixed choir in 1963 in order to appease the Chief Rabbi and persuade him to grant a minister's licence to Louis Jacobs, who the congregation of the New West End very much wanted to serve as their minister, despite his views - Jacobs argued against a fundamentalist reading 110 E. Clark in Mail-Jewish Digest archive XXIX 31. 111 JC 8 March 1963, p. 12. 112 Interview with Dudley Cohen, 19 Aug. 2001. 113 Interview with Simon Hass, 14 Oct. 2001. i4i</page><page sequence="22">Benjamin J. Elton of the Pentateuch.114 Similar pressure was applied to the New West End, Central and Hampstead Synagogues, but one can see from the ideology peculiarly associated with Hampstead why it continued to resist pressure from Brodie while the other two conceded. How was Brodie able to be firmer than his predecessors? There were a number of reasons, some internal and some external to the Jewish commu? nity. Firstly, choirs were simply less important. In 1956 the United Synagogue's ways and means committee restricted the payments made to constituent synagogues for the support of their choirs on the basis that they did 'not feel a Choir is a vital essential to the conduct of Synagogue Services', and in 1958 the Choirmasters' Association criticized the United Synagogue for its lack of interest in choirs.115 The reasons for this shift are less clear, but perhaps one at least is because the standard of the choirs was quite low, or, as the former Hampstead congregant Ruth Rosenfelder put it, 'they were grim'.116 This meant that congregants were less likely to do anything drastic if their mixed choir were disbanded than had previously been the case. Furthermore, the mixed-choir synagogues like Hampstead, New West End and Central were no longer the powerful places they had been before the Second World War. They were still wealthy and still had fine premises, but the bulk of the Jewish population was now living far away from those premises, in Edgware, Hendon and elsewhere. Even the elite, who used to live in Bayswater and Hampstead, had by this time moved to St John's Wood and Hampstead Garden Suburb. Hampstead Synagogue by 1959 had been in the United Synagogue for more than sixty years and was unlikely to leave as it might have done in the first decade or so after its foun? dation. Furthermore, Brodie had as his president of the United Synagogue Sir Isaac Wolfson, an observant Orthodox Jew, unlike his predecessors Waley Cohen and the Rothschilds with whom Adler and Hertz had had to contend. Wolfson was the son of an immigrant from Eastern Europe and a self-made millionaire. His success and that of people like him brought to positions of importance within the United Synagogue individuals who remained strictly observant in matters of religion and who had the support of those from similar backgrounds among the membership. Finally, changes in British society as a whole may have had an important impact on the Jewish community. For example, it is possible that following the influx of immigrants from Africa and the Indian subcontinent and changes in the ethnic mix in London, when Jews ceased to be the most 'oriental' members 114 Interview with Martin Lewin, 15 Sept. 2001. 115 S. Sharot, 'The Social Determinants in the Religious Practice of an Organisation of English Jewry with particular reference to the United Synagogue', DPhil thesis, University of Oxford (1968)38. 116 Interview with Ruth Rosenfelder, 12 Aug. 2001. 142</page><page sequence="23">Did the Chief Rabbinate move to the right? of British society, they felt they needed to make less effort to appear English. Their synagogues no longer needed to resemble cathedrals and could become correspondingly less formal and choral. In spite of all these factors, Brodie acted slowly and with caution. Hampstead kept its mixed choir throughout his term as Chief Rabbi and those congregations that did disband their mixed choir did so as the result of encouragement rather than dictat. Jakobovits continued this approach and Hampstead did not lose its mixed choir until nineteen years into his Chief Rabbinate. It was the case that he allowed Hampstead to appoint a new minister in 1972 only on the condition that the mixed choir be replaced, but when this came to nothing, following the appointment of Rabbi Norman Solomon and the subsequent unsuccessful attempt to estab? lish a male choir, the mixed choir carried on without repercussions.117 Indeed Jakobovitz was criticized by some Hampstead members for not taking a strong enough lead and putting an end to the matter by issuing a clear ruling against mixed choirs.118 The final end of the Hampstead mixed choir came in 1986 because the synagogue could not find a new minister until the mixed choir was disbanded. The cause then was not Jakobovits, but the increased traditionalism of the average United Synagogue minis? ter.119 Furthermore the Liverpool Old Hebrew Congregation still has a mixed choir, yet remains under the authority of Chief Rabbi Sacks. As for the question of pressure from the right wing and the allegation that Brodie was weak, again a comparative case will throw light on the matter. In 1959 Louis Jacobs wanted to succeed Isidore Epstein as principal of Jews' College, the Orthodox British rabbinical seminary. On the advice of the Beth Din Brodie vetoed his appointment on the basis of heretical views Jacobs had expressed in his book We Have Reason to Believe.120 In 1962 Jacobs tried to return to his previous pulpit at the New West End Synagogue, but Brodie blocked Jacobs's appointment despite contrary advice from the Beth Din.121 Brodie was thus perfectly capable of being as 'right wing' on his own initiative as anyone else, if he felt the need. The support of a section of the community, of people like Isaac Wolfson, was certainly useful, but it was a case of support rather than pressure. It is necessary also to take note of the question of gender. As noted, Meirovitch has argued that Hertz permitted mixed choirs to improve the standing of women in the synagogue, and Sylvia Lee wrote that 'the Chief 117 JfC 15 Sept. 1972, p. 18; Charles Lowy, National Sound Archive C410/106/01-8; interview with Richard Rosten, 15 Aug. 2001. 118 R.Apple(seen.87)n. 119 Interview with Gary and Rita Fine, 15 July 2001; J. M. Cohen (see n. 76) 92-3. 120 L. Jacobs, We Have Reason to Believe (London 1957). 121 L. Jacobs (see n. 62) 162. 143</page><page sequence="24">Benjamin Jf. Elton Rabbi [abolished mixed choirs because he] took umbrage against us women'.122 Did Adler and Hertz therefore take a more liberal and inclusive approach to women than Brodie and Jakobovitz? Three pieces of evidence throw doubt on this thesis. The first concerns the organ in the synagogue. Adler and Hertz were extremely firm on the issue of playing an organ on the Sabbath, although Adler liked the organ per se and had one played at his induction.123 For the Chief Rabbis, if it was a contest between aesthetics and the law, the law won. The issue of mixed choirs was a similar contest. Brodie liked mixed choirs aesthetically but disapproved of them legally, and again the law won.124 Secondly, Brodie permitted women to sit on syna? gogue councils and executives for the first time, something that had never happened under Adler and Hertz.125 Finally, in 1892 a choir of girls sang at a service in the Great Synagogue, the seat of the Chief Rabbi, without fuss.126 Only the singing of adult women constitutes a sexual distraction; the problem does not apply to young girls. Therefore, although they were female, their singing did not present a problem in Jewish law and was permitted. It appears, somewhat counter-intuitively, that although the issue of mixed choirs is fundamentally one of gender, the changes in the attitudes towards mixed choirs between 1880 and 1986 was not a function of gender but of other religious and sociological changes.127 The evidence presented here suggests that the near universal view of the mixed choir controversies could be contested. The early Chief Rabbis never permitted the use of mixed choirs, so there was no sudden break in policy and only a gradual change in approach by successive Chief Rabbis. Indeed Jonathan Sacks today, like Hermann Adler in 1892, is the spiritual leader of a mixed-choir synagogue. The implications of this revision may have a broader significance, for, if the mixed choir controversies cannot be used as evidence for a 'shift to the right', this raises much larger questions about the changing nature of Anglo-Jewish Orthodoxy in the twentieth century. I noted earlier that if the case of mixed choirs did not suggest a fundamental move to the right by the Chief Rabbis, then one would have to reassess the whole basis of the 'rightward-shift thesis' which is prevalent in academic literature, the Jewish press and in the opinions of members of the Jewish community. It has now been seen that the evidence does not indicate a right 122 Personal communication, Sylvia Lee, 13 July 2000. The Chief Rabbi referred to is Israel Brodie. 123 I. Finestein (see n. 7) 232. 124 Interview with Dudley Cohen, 19 Aug. 2001. 125 J. Guttentag, 'Shul: A Unique Institution' (unpublished MS 2001) 2. 126 JCi?Dec. 1892, p. 16. 127 R. Apple (see n. 87) 9, also argues that, in this sense, gender was not an issue. 144</page><page sequence="25">Did the Chief Rabbinate move to the right? ward shift in any straightforward sense. Rather the Chief Rabbis' personal position on mixed choirs remained remarkably unchanged over the period. What did change was the force with which they expressed their personal views to the synagogues under their authority, and that changed only slowly and cautiously. The crucial point is that the Chief Rabbis always operated within Jewish law, albeit at the lenient end of the spectrum of legal opinions on mixed choirs, and over time moved across the spectrum to encourage the following of stricter and more mainstream opinions, which they all person? ally felt were the opinions which ought to be followed, in an ideal world. ('Mainstream' in the mixed-choir issue is, of course, a shifting notion in the British context, but mixed choirs have never been mainstream in the Orthodox world as a whole.) As we have seen, the world in which they oper? ated was not ideal, and they felt that the conditions they faced necessitated concessions within the law. A better way, then, to look at Chief Rabbis is not as ignorami who permitted transgressions they were too weak to oppose, but as skilled interpreters of the law, who acted with strength despite being in a weak position.128 While there is not the scope here for a full-scale exam? ination of religious movements within Anglo-Jewry from the 1880s to the present, the new interpretation which has been developed in this examina? tion of mixed choirs can be fruitfully applied to other developments within Anglo-Jewry and suggests the need for a re-examination of Anglo-Jewish religious history over the past century or so, and specifically of the 'move to-the-right' thesis. Did the United Synagogue move to the right? As shown, the idea of movement right or left exists on different levels. Firstly, did individual ministers and lay leaders become better and more traditionally educated, more observant and more Orthodox in theology? The answer is yes. Secondly, and crucially, did the Chief Rabbis become more observant, or more theologically Orthodox, and did the official dogma and official stan? dards of observance of the United Synagogue ever change? The answer is no. The Chief Rabbis were always highly observant and unimpeachably Orthodox. The religious position of the United Synagogue is defined as that of the Chief Rabbinate, so as an institution it was also highly observant and unimpeachably Orthodox. The implication is clear: although members of the United Synagogue became more religious, the theological stance of the United Synagogue was static, and the task that faced the Chief Rabbis, particularly Adler, Hertz and Brodie, was how to negotiate between their personal position, which was also the official position of the United Synagogue, and the de facto position of the community which the Chief Rabbis found themselves leading. This latter position changed over time 128 Hermann Adler was described as a 'second rate scholar, or even third rate' by the minister of a London Orthodox synagogue. Anonymous interview, 5 Nov. 2001. 145</page><page sequence="26">Benjamin J. Elton and, significantly, moved towards that of the Chief Rabbinate. The Chief Rabbis had to manage the situation in which they found themselves without compromising their own principles and the Orthodoxy of their office. The problem has been that historians have conflated the two questions and consequently misinterpreted what the Chief Rabbis were trying to do. Turning first to the observance and theological Orthodoxy of the minis? ters, congregants and lay leaders of the United Synagogue, much evidence can be found to support the view that there was substantial change between 1880 and 1986. When one minister of the United Synagogue in 1915, Joseph Hockman, argued that the dietary laws could be suspended, Hertz was about to sack him because of his religious opinions, but he resigned. It seems also that Hockman publicly rode his horse on the Sabbath.129 In 1902, while they were teachers at Jews' College, Morris Joseph and Israel Abraham led Sabbath services at which an organ was played.130 In terms of the laity, Waley Cohen freely admitted that he did not observe the Sabbath, while many United Synagogue congregants happily drove to synagogue on the Sabbath.131 Norman Cohen was cited earlier on the practices of ministers of the United Synagogue, their laxity in dietary laws, their carrying of umbrel? las on the Sabbath and so forth. By the 1980s the United Synagogue, in both its clergy and laity, had moved towards the position of the Chief Rabbis. The lay leadership of the United Synagogue as a whole became more observant and 'reverends' were replaced by 'rabbis' until the former became the exception. (In 1930, 4 out of 17 ministers of the United Synagogue were rabbis, the rest reverends. In i960 the figure was 12 out of 21.)132 An inter? esting example of this is Hampstead itself. The Revd Isaac Levy, who was in favour of the mixed choir, was replaced by Rabbi Raymond Apple in 1965, who later revealed his personal disapproval of mixed choirs in his valedic? tory sermon - to boos from the congregation.133 The accepted explanation is that the influx of Jews from Eastern Europe and Germany in the early twentieth century shifted the balance of population away from highly assim? ilated English families towards those fresh out of continental Europe, where religious standards had remained higher. What this study shows is that this influx did not make the Chief Rabbinate more religious, only the community which it tended; previous scholars have conflated the shift of the community and the alleged shift of the Chief Rabbinate into one phenomenon. It has been seen that there is strong evidence to suggest that the Chief Rabbinate did not actually shift position in any fundamental sense. The importance of 129 L. Jacobs (see n. 62) 106. 130 J. M. Shaftesley (see n. 109) 102. 131 N. Cohen (see n. 72) 44. 132 S. Sharot, Judaism: A Sociology (Newton Abbot 1976) 158. 133 Interview with Dudley Cohen, 19 Aug. 2001; JC 29 Sept. 1972, p. 11. 146</page><page sequence="27">Did the Chief Rabbinate move to the right? this study of mixed choirs is as a case study examining one aspect of a much broader policy, which was one of the most important factors in the shaping of the English Jewish community. From Nathan Adler onwards the Chief Rabbis adopted a policy of flexi? bility within the law in order to keep Jews within the Orthodox fold. From 1847, when Nathan Adler issued his Laws and Regulations, permitted alter? ations were made to the synagogue service in order to increase its appeal to the highly Anglicized members of the United Synagogue. He hinted at the situation he was addressing in the introduction, which talks of 'deserted synagogues'.134 He even banned the custom of'knocking' during the recita? tion of the Book of Esther on Purim because it was deemed indecorous and put people off attending the synagogue. It is also noteworthy that Adler makes a point of stating that his reforms were 'in strict conformity with the Law'.135 In order to maintain this principle he refused to give permission for a number of alterations put to him, such as delaying the main portion of the Sabbath morning service until 11 o'clock, or omitting of references to sacrifices in the service.136 This principle of concession when necessary and within the law was continued by his son Hermann Adler, but with greater imagination and creativity. Nathan Adler refused to allow the central section of morning service to begin at 11 o'clock, because the morning service must be read before then. Hermann found a compromise. He too insisted that the morn? ing service should start at the traditional time of 8 o'clock. But after the section of the service that has to be read early had been completed, Hermann permitted a break, not until 11 o'clock as congregants wanted, but until 10 o'clock, at which point the service would resume. Anglicized congregants were then able to come to the elaborate and choral parts of the service, and yet not have to be in the synagogue until 10 o'clock. They did not wish to come until 11 o'clock, but Hermann Adler's solution was at least preferable from their point of view to coming at 8 o'clock. (Today, Sabbath services in synagogues belonging to the United Synagogue usually begin at between 9 and 9.30 and reach the part of the service Hampstead began at 10 at about that time.)137 Hermann Adler was faced with a similar problem to his father concerning the omission of prayers about sacrifices. While Nathan Adler simply said no, Hermann Adler found a solution by permit? ting the adoption of the practice of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews who recite the prayer for the reintroduction of sacrifices silently.138 Nathan 134 N. M. Adler (see n. 41) 1-2. 135 Ibid. 16. 136 JC 18 June 1880, pp. 12-13. 137 R. Apple (see n. 4) 16. 138 Ibid. 147</page><page sequence="28">Benjamin J. Elton Adler imposed a blanket ban on the organ, which many congregants wanted to be introduced.139 Hermann continued the ban on the organ on the Sabbath and at those services directly commanded by Jewish law. However, at other services, for example his installation service as Chief Rabbi, he allowed an organ to be played.140 Finally, there is the issue of mixed choirs. Nathan again simply issued a ban; Hermann, who was in no position to follow his example, found a way through, by turning a blind eye to some? thing that was on the very edge of acceptability, and which he personally opposed, but which could be construed as being within the law. This approach, of concession when possible and resolution when necessary, was followed by Hertz and his successors.141 If, as the evidence suggests, the Chief Rabbis were flexible within the law, what was the necessity and effect of their flexibility? Was it justified from an Orthodox point of view? The answer is a clear yes. These modifications kept English Jews affiliated to Orthodox synagogues to a remarkable degree. Dudley Cohen does not consider himself religious, yet liked Hampstead; people happily drove on the Sabbath but drove to Hampstead, rather than to a Reform synagogue, or to the countryside. Hampstead as a whole remained Orthodox because its desires for a modified service were satisfied, for example over the question of mixed choirs. To illustrate this point, in November 1895 an individual visited the (Reform) West London Synagogue for a Sabbath service. He wrote to the Jewish Chronicle that there were only eighteen men in the vast synagogue. (A survey by the British Weekly of synagogue attendance on Saturday 23 October 1886 found that 2360 Jews went to synagogue that morning: 81 went to the West London Synagogue, the others to Orthodox synagogues. If attendance at West London is compared with Orthodox synagogues catering to the same social class, the figures are Bayswater - Hermann Adler's synagogue - 261, St John's Wood 247, New West End 161.)142 This massive superiority in numbers of Orthodoxy continued throughout the twentieth century. In 1972 eight-one per cent of Jewish marriages in Britain were performed 139 Letter from H. Adler, 19 Nov. 1889. Chief Rabbinate Archives ACC/2805/02/01/129. 140 I. Finestein (see n. 7) 232. 141 J. H. Hertz (see n. 90) 531-3 on praying for the reintroduction of sacrifices; JC 12 Feb. 1965, p. 14 reports that Brodie attended a non-statutory service at which an organ was played. A letter from the Clerk to the Beth Din to the Chief Rabbi's secretary (5 Dec. 1950, Chief Rabbinate Archives ACC/3460/2/2/248) shows that the Beth Din thought that the playing of the organ was always prohibited, yet Brodie persisted. This suggests that he was capable of resisting pressure from the Beth Din, and that therefore the influence on synagogues to make their practices more traditional was not simply the result of pressure from the Beth Din; Chaim Bermant, Troubled Eden (London 1969) 3. An organ was played at the installation of Immanuel Jakobovits. 142 JC 8 Nov. 1895, p. 9. British Weekly 5, 12,19, 26 Nov. 1886. 148</page><page sequence="29">Did the Chief Rabbinate move to the right? under Orthodox auspices.143 By their policies Hermann Adler and his successors kept affiliation to Orthodox Judaism high, especially when compared to Germany between about 1880 and 1930. During that period the Orthodox Jewish community was extremely observant, but made up only ten to fifteen per cent of the total Jewish population. The similarly rigorous post-Second World War American Orthodox Jewish community makes up less than eight per cent of the total Jewish population.144 One might argue that affiliation to Orthodox synagogues alone is of little impor? tance, if the individuals are indistinguishable from Jews belonging to Reform synagogues. However, in 1971 Sharot found that eighty-two per cent of members of the United Synagogue claimed they kept a kosher home, whereas only nineteen per cent of members of the Reform and Liberal Jews made that claim.145 Belonging to the United Synagogue kept people more observant. All of this was noted at the time. In 1892, when Adler made concessions to Hampstead, Michael Friedlander, principal of Jews' College, who opposed the changes, wrote to Jacob Reinowitz, a day an on the Beth Din, who likewise opposed them: I too am displeased with the young who wish to break down the fence and destroy the vineyard of the Lord. I have no share in them. But this I must say before my master. We have to investigate and examine each problem . . . they submit to the Chief Rabbi. . . and rule according to the Din [law]... At this age and especially in this country it is impossible ... to say 'this is my will and this you shall do.' If we do we shall. . . drive many away from us and put to shame the Torah and men of Torah. This, everyone who fears the Lord should understand ... It is better to walk the middle way. I do not wish to help those who transgress but only to help them to return to the fold.146 In other words, although Friedlander himself disliked innovation, he supported the Chief Rabbi in allowing it, because it was within the law and necessary. The Chief Rabbis' attitude to mixed choirs was therefore one aspect of a whole set of policies and approaches which were massively successful in maintaining Orthodoxy in Britain, both in terms of affiliation and personal observance, and have to be seen in that context. That is why the view that the Chief Rabbis were in any way liberal or left wing or lax has to be radically reassessed. They were in fact extremely shrewd and success? ful defenders of Orthodoxy. The Chief Rabbis never permitted the breaking of Jewish law, but they approached it with flexibility, in the pursuit of what 143 S. Sharot(seen. 132) 160. 144 Ibid. 108, 166. 145 Ibid. 162. 146 E. Newman, 'The Responsa of Dayan Jacob Reinovitz', Trans JHSE XXIII (1969-70) 29. i49</page><page sequence="30">Benjamin J. Elton was for them a lofty aim, one which they achieved, of preserving a commu? nity in which the majority of Jews were affiliated to Orthodox institutions; a situation that pertains today only in countries once under the jurisdiction of the British Chief Rabbinate, such as Britain, Canada and New Zealand. This is just a preliminary sketch, and a great deal more work remains to be done. But it suggests that there is a rich seam of revisionist history waiting to be unearthed. This study set out to reconsider the prevalent view that the history of Anglo-Jewry in the twentieth century has been one of a 'move to the right' in terms of practice and belief. It is clear that the almost universal opinion is that while the early Chief Rabbis permitted the use of mixed choirs, this policy was changed by Chief Rabbis from Brodie onwards, who banned them as a result of a move to the right by the Chief Rabbinate. The evidence examined here undermines that interpretation. First, it has been shown that the laws on mixed singing contain flexibility that can and has been used when rabbis felt the situation demanded it, and that this was the context within which the Chief Rabbis approached the issue. Secondly, the evidence suggests that the policy of the Chief Rabbis did not change, but rather that the same approach, which one might describe as restrained hostility, was applied in different ways in different circumstances, for valid reasons. This understanding is confirmed when one looks at the much larger picture of the way in which Chief Rabbis practised a policy of conces? sion where necessary within the law, one that carries on to the present. I have shown that, contrary to the popular opinion that the Chief Rabbis broke Jewish law when they authorized mixed choirs, they neither broke Jewish law nor authorized mixed choirs. They therefore achieved the continued dominance of Orthodoxy in Britain but, contrary to the interpre? tation of Alderman, Lipman and others, not at the expense of Jewish law.147 Finally, it has been seen that in other matters, when there was need for concession, and concession was possible within the bounds of Jewish law, it was made, often with skill and creativity. When there was no room for concession the Chief Rabbi simply and irrevocably refused. Moreover, they said yes or no not merely as the result of pressure. The conclusions of this study have some clear historiographical implications. In the context of the current debates in the Anglo-Jewish community these implications may be controversial. Those on the left cherish their image of a lost golden age of liberal Chief Rabbis, while those on the right recoil from giving full Orthodox status to men who took decisions of which they disapprove. Nevertheless, the evidence considered here indicates that there is not only 147 G. Alderman (see n. 3) 108-9; V. D. Lipman (see n&gt; 44) Q2; I. Finestein (see n. 7) 247. 150</page><page sequence="31">Did the Chief Rabbinate move to the right? considerable scope for the reassessment of the religious policy of the Chief Rabbis across a range of issues, but also that the religious development of Anglo-Jewry and the Chief Rabbinate's place in that development might ultimately require reconsideration. 151</page></plain_text>

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