Originally published in The Times, 29th July 1989. Jack Shamash on the torment of a rabbi exploring the roots of his religious faith Questioning the scriptures HELPING WITH INQUIRIES By Louis Jacobs Vallentine Mitchell, £19.50 When Rabbi Louis Jacobs acquired a disused synagogue after his split with the Chief Rabbi, some zealot broke into the building and chopped up the Rabbi’s seat with a hatchet. It seemed that a substantial number of ... Continue Reading ➨
Helping with Inquiries
This book is crowded with fascinating pen portraits of the many people Jacobs met in his long career, especially his teachers and fellow students in the Manchester Yeshivah, the Rabbinic seminary at Gateshead and at London University. It also traces his family's origins in Eastern Europe, his boyhood in the now vanished Penrose St. of Cheetham Hill, and the progressive stages of his pastoral and intellectual career. Above all, it gives the author's first detailed account of the stormy controversy in which he was involved in the 1960s and 70s and which changed not only his career but possibly the subsequent climate of Jewish opinion in the English-speaking world. For all his restrained, relaxed manner and self-effacement the author does not shrink from criticism of others - and of himself - and emerges as a man of inner strength buttressed by the encouragement of an affectionate family and warm friendships.
It was some 28 years ago in 1961 the year that I first went to University that the “Jacobs affair” first rocked British Jewry. This well written autobiography of Rabbi Dr. Louis Jacobs reveals to us all the background details surrounding the shabby treatment meted out by the “Anglo Jewish Establishment” to one of the foremost Jewish scholars ever produced by this country. Oddly enough it was in Edinburgh in the early 60s at a Jewish Student ... Continue Reading ➨
A selection from Alex Berlyne’s regular “Jerusalem Post” column, published in 1981, displays the following commendation on its dust cover: “This book should appeal to people of all ages, particularly if they were born in the Twenties in Manchester’s Bermuda Triangle, the area bounded by Elizabeth Street, Waterloo Road and Cheetham Hill Road”. You could say much the same thing about Rabbi Dr. Louis Jacob’s autobiography, and the specification of ... Continue Reading ➨