Originally published in Comment, by Tomchei Neturei Karta, 2:12 (Sivan 5724/May 1964).
It is not our particular aim to attend the general diversary trends that afflict the body of Jewry, especially when the distress meets that section of the community which we, in any case, are unable to underwrite. More so when the heresy has gone so far into the open for all to see. Our mission, with this publication, is primarily to expose Zionism. There is a compelling necessity to explain this particular adversity because Zionism has yet to be unmasked, stripped of its misleading garb and presented in its real character as the main all-embracing calamity for the Jewish People. Since, however, the affair with “Rabbi” Jacobs does not cease to be of general interest and in view of the latest flair-up, there is a need to draw from it whatever can be of use for even our circles.
From the west of London, a district that has been noted to us for its “good behaviour” and apathy, if not somnolence, there now comes strife and ungentlemanly uproar; an ominous rattling and rustling of the quiescent dry bones. Terms like obscurantist and progressive, with their early Victorian flavour are flung about, whilst sullied imports from other climes are bandied with reproach or invitation to partner an irritant mummery, alien concepts of fundamentalism, obscurantism and like strangers. This froth and murk could well be ignored and by-passed for we have nothing to gain from fishing in such waters, were it not for some aspects of this issue that are insufficiently understood by those who are bemused by deceptively attractive slogans and the pretence of outraged innocence that is put forward to camouflage the wanton violation by the guardians themselves that they were appointed to harbour and protect. And if we point to the poisonous sources, the hazards and evil outcome, we shall, at least, not be failing to remind some few, and acquaint many others, of the true origin and circumstance of the sinister fare they are being offered garnished to attraction by devilish misrepresentation and counterfeit promise.
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We know Leibel Jacobs. He is of our generation; a Manchester boy with an average good brain who studied in the Yeshivoh not undiligently. Coming from a non-religious working-class family he was of some interest in the Yeshivoh but those close to him remarked on the peculiar irreligious streak that showed from time to time. He would mock, for instance נטילת ידים and other such ordinances which were not in tune with the newspaper articles he read so much. But Jacobs spent a few years of his youth in the Yeshivoh, nevertheless
After his marriage into an orthodox family he became bored with the religious circles in which he found himself and where he saw little prospect of advancement among the many others compared with whom he was of no prominence. He soon gravitated to anglicised Jewish circles to become a “Minister” where his few years in the Yeshivoh provided him with an “elevation” over his confreres, “Reverends”, in the most without any Yeshivoh grounding. His position as Minister in the Central Synagogue in Manchester brought him into contact with Dr. Alexander Altmann who served there as Communal Rabbi before leaving for America to teach theological subjects. Altmann was not a Rabbi as we understand it. He was a German type Rabbiner of German schooling with a flattering smile on his face that sufficed for the demands in Rabbinical qualifications of the then Manchester Shechita Board. He perfected his English whilst in this country and realised that to feather his Shechita Board alone is not enough. He started smiling to the Meshumodim section of the community—the Liberals and the Reformers—with an every increasing output of Apikorsus, in that way showing that he is not only a “Rabbi” but also a “broadminded” man. It served him well. The Liberals pushed him forward with all possible means of publicity. They got him the B.B.C. for broadcasts and many other occasions in recognition of his “broadmindedness”, until he left for America to be a “professor”, virtually meaning to disseminate Apikorsus—plain and simple heresy—which this Chair and this College denotes.
Young Jacobs liked both of Altmann’s ways. Being conditioned for it he became as imbued with Apikorsus and broadmindedness as his exemplar Altmann and he, too, began to be aware of the rewards for preaching Apikorsus and began to draw on the old outmoded books that were so new to him—the old-fashioned German Bible critics. This study took him through the university and his thesis and he is now no longer Leibel Jacobs; he is now Rabbi Dr. Louis Jacobs.
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Jacobs made no mistake. Accomodation and expediency were in demand by a certain section of the community. The Yahudim of the New West End Synagogue in London had always maintained that only such a Rabbi is desirable for their pulpit. They who do not keep the Torah, who openly desecrate the Shabbos, who eat Treifoh, who do not even know about Taharas Hamishpochoh, and to whom most of the Torah Commands are strange want a “Rabbi” who should not only not bother with them with such matters, but who should satisfy them that their ways are orthodox and that there is nothing in Orthodoxy that should inconvenience them; that Judaism consists of coming once or twice a year—by foot or by car—to the Synagogue and a few times oftener to a charity ball.
Jacobs was especially equipped. His apparent innocence and soft-spoken address are his credentials of honesty. A young man with a heavy black goatee beard, with a Yeshivoh background he made the impression of a Rabbi and not merely a dance-hall frequenter like-other “Reverends”. His justification for the vulgar desecration of our Faith, therefore, is more authoritive, carries more weight and gives more satisfaction. Jacobs served them well. But at the same time he did not lose sight of his own reward. Every “broadminded” heretical repetition was brought to the notice of the world by the anti-Jewish Chronicle, the “religious” journal which has the main mission of destroying completely what is still left of the Jewish Faith amongst its readers.
This journal was previously owned by the Montagues and the Montefiores who, thanks to their fortunes, were accepted within British aristocracy and learned their ways, throwing overboard almost everything Jewish and Holy. The Jewish Chronicle, since its establishment, has served the purpose, at times overtly, at times covertly, of giving Torah desecration an ideological colouring with the usual catchphrases of broadmindedness, liberal, progressive, modern etc. When someone spoke out against these lust-seekers and desecrators he was branded by the anti-Jewish Chronicle as intolerant. To speak openly against the Torah is allowed because it is broadminded. To speak out against the Torah desecrators is not allowed for it is intolerance. This “religious” journal, trying to copy the English way of writing and its style, pretended, at times, some kind of misleading objectivity not to show its real aim boldly and unhidden.
In the last two decades changes have taken place. This newspaper has been bought up by David Kessler. The old editor, Greenberg, had to leave because of his nationalistic sentiments which were too Jewish for David Kessler. Shaftesley completely ignorant of Judaism, who succeeded him was un-Jewish enough for Kessler and served the anti-religious cause well by giving prominence to the Reform and Liberal Meshumodim on every occasion, yet he still tried to keep some kind of masked objectivity. He, in turn, had to go, too: not for any ideological, but for quite material differences. The present editor Mr. Frenkel serves the anti-religious course set by Kessler best of all. His method is an open offensive against everything which the Torah commands, in the most degrading and coarse manner, by openly preaching the apostasy of so-called Reform sheltering the while from all criticism behind the well-tried smoke-screen of “intolerance” but himself respecting none in the vendetta for “tolerance”. Thinking that the Chief Rabbi of the United Synagogue, Dr. Brodie, stands in their way they have campaigned against him constantly, throwing mud together with stones into his face unhindered, in the cause of their broadmindedness and their tolerance.
With the general prosperity more advertising began to flow into the Jewish Chronicle. This “religious” journal also began a series of quite profitable supplements about, anything and everything, became a first class money making machine and felt stronger and increasingly more, self-assured parallel with the increase in the half-page advertisements, to print full-page attacks on our Religion with mockery and Chutzpoh of no bounds and no limit.
David Kessler has but little to do with Judaism. Most of the Torah is not even known to him. He certainly does not keep it. He would keep race-horses instead. Of them his knowledge is extensive. Verily, his religious standing would not bother anyone except that through circumstances his religion has become the criterion for the whole of Anglo-Jewry, for, when buying up the shares of the Jewish Chronicle David Kessler purchased, at the same, time, the sole rights over the minds of the Anglo-Jewish Community. That Meshumad, with the help of Frenkel and his associates can tell the Jewish Community what he likes, how he likes and when he likes.
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Jacobs did not stand still. He had already been flattered by the Jewish Chronicle and the old elite of the money aristocracy, the Montefiores and the Montagues, when Mr. Steiner and his friends joined the Camp. Though a newcomer in the money world Mr. Steiner’s remarkable acquisition of wealth also brought him a say in religious affairs: as he sees it—a decisive say.
Jacobs left the New West End Synagogue to become a tutor in Jews College when promised the post of Principal there. The next step would be the position of Chief Rabbi as it became vacant. This timetable and map of advance was agreed upon by the nominal Jews and by the new volunteers like Mr. Steiner equally determined to put Jacobs and his heresy at the helm of Anglo-Jewry. They went so far as to facilitate this by guaranteeing a subsidy to his salary as a mere tutor until he should become the Principal with the salary that goes with it.
These efforts on his behalf had their reason. The nominal Jews wanted to make sure of Jacobs’ obtaining the position of Chief Rabbi when it became vacant by first getting him the post of Principal of Jews College. He would by then be a renowned scholar, an academic figure, a theologian; something much more outstanding than a minister-preacher in an almost always empty Synagogue. But even before reaching this final destination their sinister plan would be paying off for all their ministers, preachers, teachers and readers would be trained in the Jacob heresy.
To ensure his standing Jacob published a few small books, one of them the notorious “We have Reason (not) to Believe” in which he defamed the Fundamentals of our Religion, not with anything original of his own, but by repeating the well known Bible-critics, mostly German, old, debunked and forgotten.
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In the flow of millenia and centuries our enemies though unchanging and unchangeable in their aims, have repeatedly varied their guise. In different periods they have assailed us for our Law, our separate existence as a people, our possessions, again and again for our Faith. But there came a time, especially in the Germany of the last century, when these crude lines of attack were, for many, beginning to lose their attraction. With their own faith decaying—and it is here that the term fundamentalism has its relevance—with tastes changing, the old and tried weapons were adjudged to have lost some of their potency. Something more subtle, more sophisticated, was called for: the struggle must be transferred to the historical and the spiritual plane. Industrious researchers, they were troubled with the results of their own investigations—the twin problems of Jewry’s spiritual pre-eminence and historical uniqueness. To destroy these they reached out for new tools, and essayed into Bible-criticism.
If it could once be established there was no indestructable union between Jews and the Torah; if the Torah could be used not to enhance but to denigrate the spiritual and historical stature of the Jewish People; if the Tor ah could be employed to rob them of all claim to originality and if, above all the Torah itself ו”ח could be denied its Divine origin and portrayed as of human authorship, then the way would be open for a campaign of intellectual and moral humiliation and degradation. Thus, some hundred years ago, they set to work theologians like Wellhausen, Graf and Delitzsch in unholy alliance with materialists like Jenerbach. No word or event that could be twisted and distorted to bring the Jewish name into disrepute, to deny the Holiness of our Torah, escaped their attention.
This campaign soon burst its intellectual bonds to spill over into social and political life providing ammunition for the new generation of racialist anti-semites who were kept well supplied with quotations and examples with which to buttress their vicious doctrines. The echoes of this insiduous campaign could soon be heard all over Germany and beyond its borders. Every anti-semite felt an access of intellectual respectability. Anti-semitism acquired new life: it became modern, broadminded and justified.
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The German doctors and professors pursued their way through the century with their pseudo-scientific and historical arguments derived from Bible criticism to stamp Jews as moral and intellectucal lepers. It is a tragedy of the times that renegades of Jewish descent calling themselves modern and progressive embraced these spurious anti-semitic doctrines with enthusiasm. Weakened in their Faith, defiled by their deeds, propelled by their lusts and eager to throw off the yoke of the Torah they repeated these false arguments of their enemies and their new reasons for anti-semitism became modern Jewish culture.
Soon “Rabbis” were found to preach likewise. Geiger in Breslau and Berlin, Holdheim in Frankfurt, Fraenkel in Leipzig and Philipsohn in Breslau established this anti-semitic lying degradation of our Holy Torah as Rabbinical teaching. It was the same Wellhausen but in a guise of seeking the truth, theological research, freedom of thought, honest enquiry and other such terms, to make him palatable for Rabbinic studies.
Seminaries were opened where this cult of broadmindedness, this germanic theology, became required subjects of study and almost sacred lore of all the Reform and Liberal Torah desecrators bonded together under the resounding call of progress to be later introduced into all universities throughout the world as part of Semitic studies for Jew and Gentile alike. This germanic Kultur has become, since its inception in the last century, the basis of all the “Rabbinical” theology of Reform, the essence of their preaching in self-justification and so remained until this day. This germanic Kultur and none other is the scholarship of Jacobs of the New London Synagogue. This is his academic knowledge, his broadmindedness, his orthodoxy and his established truths.
This can all be seen so clearly. Whoever can read Wellhausen and the others in the original will see the source of “Rabbinical theology” of Geiger, Holdheim and the others and whoever can read them will see for himself the academic discoveries of Jacobs and his reasoning. No wonder that the Liberal and Reform “Rabbis” of today are repeatedly astonished at the fuss made about him. They persistently claim, and quite rightly too, that there is nothing in Jacobs’ preaching of which they did not know long ago.
It is as well that those who talk so portentiously about obscurantism and fundamentalism should know the fount and origin of these phrase-makers and that the tragic farce now being displayed before us should be properly evaluated.
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Bit by bit Jacobs became better known in the-circles of nominal Jews, who would still cling to the title orthodox, as the one who suits them most.
When the question of appointing a new Principal to Jews College became acute, the Chief Rabbi of the United Synagogue, Dr. Brodie, could not allow, even from his own set of values, the appointment of an open vulgar Apikoirus as head of the College that supplies Ministers, Teachers and Readers for the whole of the United Synagogues. Here the flair up really began. Mr. Mocatta and his friends who administered the College expressly wanted a Jacobs to be the Principal. They, as much as other members of the New West End Synagogue, have more in common with even Japanese culture than with true Jewish Religion. Their aim is that the “Reverends” of the future should present the obligations of the Jewish Religion in a way that binds and inconveniences them as much as the Japanese or any other culture.
Dr. Brodie must be given credit for his stand. Altough, to true Religious Jews, the United Synagogue, and all its offices, together with its Jews College is far removed from Orthodoxy as we know it, the veto be applied to the proposed appointment of Jacobs as Principal of the College is highly appreciated. He did not bow. Steadfast and fearless he opposed the Mocattas, the Montagues and the Montefiores, the self-appointed, pillars of the Anglo-Jewish community, and in face of the hate campaign of the money-making anti-Jewish Chronicle he stood as a barrier between open blaspheming of the Jewish Faith and his organised Community.
From the publicity around this affair Jacobs became enhanced in the eyes of nominal Jews as the champion of the justification of their way of life: that open desecration of all the Torah and fulfilment of all lust and desire is no longer a shame, but is now a philosophy, an academic thinking: that they are no longer outcasts. The cover for all this by the splinter groups of the Reform and Liberals and their Meshumodim “Rabbis” had never satisfied them to the full. Now, with Jacobs, they thought to have something authentic! Jacobs is an orthodox Rabbi with a Jewish schooling, an aspirant for Principal of Jews College and more. His blaspheming is “authoritarian” thus completely satisfying to their needs and the desecration of our Religion is broadmindedness itself—modern, scientific and whatever else one could wish for.
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Here, there should be noted the indissoluble bond of the Jewish People and the Holiness of our Torah. In even the last stages of trying to free themselves completely from that bond they are disturbed. There is still something left in them that reappears in many ways as a call of challenge to their complete divorce from Torah Holiness. It is faint, inexplicable, of low voice and sometimes almost unrecognisable but yet strong enough to beckon, to demand, to disturb to a point of irritation that has no respite. Even those Jews who have never immersed in our Holiness hear from within themselves that call, begging and commanding, reminding them of their present false identity.
No wonder that all of them search feverishly for solace and consolation in their aberation, to provide the so much thought after self-security which they can never find completely. They are hard pressed to cling to every new promise. Be it only a newly fashioned tuneful phrase or slogan they embrace it eagerly only to find, after a time, that they have no solution to their problem.
David Kessler’s weekly the Jewish Chronicle which is widely read in the small Jewish community of the British Isles, leaving no financial possibility for a competitor, did not leave off flattering Jacobs and degrading, with all vulgarity, the Chief Rabbi of the United Synagogue, Dr. Israel Brodie. The sycophancy tasted well to a little man like Jacobs and he tried the more to please them and pay back with more open and more outspoken denigration of all the Holy Jewish Treasures. Jacobs sold everything for a few words of flattery by Kessler and his Frenkel who crowned him for his Apikorsus with the so oft repeated titles of Scholar, Academician etc. He does not stop and has decided to become the main מסית ומדיח, trampling underfood the Holy Torah itself ר”ל with the hypercrite’s cry of “honesty and broadmindedness”, in his vanity and for his ignoble ambition.
They did not want to lose Jacobs and made a Theological Society to enable him, under its cover, to preach the heresy which he translated from old and forgotten German Bible critics of Jewish and non-Jewish origin. This is all he has to purvey, a rehash of outmoded nineteenth century obsolete pseudo-learning of German anti-semites and their Jewish followers.
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The pulpit of the New West End Synagogue became vacant again with the departure of Dr. Pearl for America. The rich and fat nominal Jews there obviously sought the re-appointment of Jacobs as their Minister he being now the established מחרף ומגדף in the Anglo-Jewish circles. It is that חירוף וגידוף ממש which he supplies over and over again. When Jacobs rises to speak all know of what he will speak, what his thesis is to be. There can be no question of any other subject upon which he will enlighten his followers and they are ready to spend vast sums of money for the establishment of a new “Synagogue” and for the preservation of Jacobs and his German thesis become English broadmindedness. Of course Jacobs speaks of the great loyalty of his week-old congregation and they of their beloved Rabbi. But should he ever get out of step he can expect the same and probably worse treatment and disregard that they have meted out to the Chief Rabbi to whom only yesterday they gave all honour and swore loyalty—only yesterday; only whilst he left them undisturbed in their equanimity. But of that no fears, for Jacobs will ever go with them and ever be one step ahead.
Dr. Brodie has again shown strength and conviction by preventing the re-appointment of the disecrator to the New West End Synagogue. His action and consistency command respect and for this Dr. Israel Brodie will go down in the annals of English Jewry as he who, at great cost, stood undeterred in defence of our Sacred Principles, suffering the barbed and poisonous arrows of villification.
The anti-Jewish Chronicle once more opened its wild campaign against Dr. Brodie. Only front page headlines were good enough for it to express its disapproval of any move against its harassed idol. From the roof-tops they shouted this was against the interests of the Jewish Community. The Jewish Community is David Kessler and his missions. Montague has it “The Chief Rabbi is a lonely and worried man”. Without the Montagues, Rothschilds and Spears one is lonely—the hundreds of thousands of Jews who live in this country are of no consequence! So have they convinced themselves and so would they convince others.
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It is the world in which we live that makes it possible to think that the size of a bank account decides the right and ability to pronounce on the attitude of Jews to their Holy Heritage. It is their ignorance which allows the minds of people to be impressed by the outward glitter of worldly possessions and that they who have acquired them are entitled to speak out in matters far above and beyond their reach and that they should be listened to. It is only in the world in which we now live that it is possible to believe that those who speak in the name of Torah, explain its duties, and preach its holiness are obscurantists and intolerant; he who preaches only desecration of the Torah and denunciation of all our Holy Faith is avRabbi and the idol of even a small section of the Jewish Community.
National institutions of law enforcement make it unthinkable that a group of law-breakers, a group of thieves, a group of traitors should bind themselves together, hire someone to preach to them, and on their behalf, that in modern conditions the particular set of rules they violate are obsolete and that broadmindedness has proved to them that these laws—which in fact are guardian of the welfare of all—should be abrogated to suit their purpose, and be proclaimed to their fundamentals and a call for tolerance for their own misbehaviour be propagated by the press.
But exactly this has taken place before all our eyes in connection with the Divine Laws of our Holy Torah which are far above anything set up by human though and arrangement.
Of course we must be tolerant and we would gladly be so. Indeed we are tolerant of other religions. We do not criticise the Protestants, the Catholics, the Mohamedans, the Hindoos or any others. We do not know where Jacobs belongs nor what his religion is. But one thing we do know. It is not the Jewish Religion. Would he or the so-called Reform go where they belong and leave us alone we would tolerate them. We shed no tears for an apostate once he has left the fold. We are not short of a Jacobs and the Jewish People can go on their way without him.
But the matter is not so. When he professes to call himself a Jew—orthodox with all—and to stay within our fold with the only aim to seduce people to blaspheme our Holiness, to defame our Religion, to uproot the foundations, to corrupt the mind, to defile the soul and to be paid for it with fame and honour, then our only answer must be that of the Torah itself חוצא את המקלל אל מחוץ למחנה “Bring forth him that has cursed beyond the Camp and let all that heard him lay their hands upon his head and let all the Congregation overwhelm him with stones”. There is no other tolerance open to us.
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The battle between the United Synagogues and Jacobs should however not deter us from the real evaluation of the root causes of the present situation. There is no doubt that the heresy preached by the Reformers and by the Meshumad Jacobs is acceptable to a large section of the membership of the United Synagogue. The majority of Jews organised in that Community are ignorant as far as Torah learning is concerned. They do not observe the Mitzvoks. They do not observe Shabbos. They do not observe Taharas Hamishpochoh nor has the United Synagogue one single Mikveh amongst all its palatial buildings. Why should not the thoughts of these people follow their deeds? Why should they not seek comfort for their consciences? Why should they believe in principles when these beliefs would disturb them so much?
Open apostasy, defamation and desecration as uttered by Jacobs and his like are the end of a process. It starts much before. The present story brings unparalleled evidence of the bankruptcy of the whole edifice of the modern “Orthodoxy” as it has developed in the United Synagogue over the last half a century or more. All the preaching of loving kindness, family life, justice and humanity, coming to shool, Bar-Mitzvah speeches, beautiful services, attracting the youth, the Reverend Gentlemen and their church-aping canonicals, all of which had to substitute for the real undiluted Torah observance, has proved a fallacy and is coming to an end. On the contrary, it is these very substitutes which are supposed to make our Religion more acceptable that have been its undoing. They opened the way for human mundane considerations to be of some moment till they advanced to complete domination. No Torah observance was ever brought about by them, but the disappearance of Torah life from Anglo-Jewry was their natural consequence. From the ignorance of Torah and laxity and the consideration of convenience in its upkeep right up to the Meshumad Jacobs there is the set pattern of the seven declines which Chazal quote in בחקתי:
כל שאינו לומד אינו עושה, סוף שהוא שונה את החכמים, סוף שאינו מניח לאחרים לעשות, סוף שהוא כופר במצות, סוף שהוא כופר בעיקר
(1) whoever does not learn the Torah (2) will end by not practicing the Mitzvohs (3) in the end he will dislike others who do practice them (4) in the end he will hate the Sages (5) in the end he will prevent others from practicing (6) in the end he will deny the Divine Source of the Mitzvoks (7) in the end he will deny the All.
This is the set pattern of the order of Jewish decline revealed to us by the Chazal. It has been proved time and time again. Nothing can alter it and the truth of this now stands before us once more. This should bring home the lesson which we in our circle need to remember. This should compel us to re-examine our own ways. Are we ourselves learning enough Torah? Are we ourselves utilising our every free moment for Torah learning? Is our Torah learning with the pure motives it should be? Are we giving our children a Torah education cleansed of all adulteration? Is their time taken up altogether by Torah and not by other imagined necessities? Such self-examination should be prompted in these days.
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There is another equally important lesson to be drawn from this affair which takes place outside our camp. This is the determination with which the desecrators are waging the battle of their defection. The non-stop propaganda, the expenditure of large sums of money, the expending of so much time and energy; nothing deters them; not even the very unfavourable impression created in the non-Jewish world to which they are so sensitive and so wont to point; not even a split in their Community, a contretemps they profess to dislike so much; not even the attack on the structure of their inviolate United Synagogue; not even the denigration of their Chief Rabbi whom they pretend to love and worship so much and not even the degradation of the whole Anglo-Jewish Community in which they were Presidents and wardens and which their fathers and grand fathers founded and nurtured.
This has all been put aside, all overlooked in the act of casting off the Torah for the sake of temporal comfort and convenience. How much more should we, true Religious Jews, show determination for the preservation of our Holy Heritage, the highest treasure of our lives, the Eternal Torah in its entirety as it was handed down to us at the Revelation on Mount Sinai? How much more should we fight every and any diversion or attempted attrition with which we are faced in this dark-epoch?
A call should go forth to every one of us to be on guard, to remain unmoved, to resist every onslaught, to hold position and preserve the last outposts; to fight tooth and nail, to remain unruffled and unhindered in carrying out our duty, in following our predetermined path to remain slaves of G-d and His Torah.