Rabbi Louis Jacobs reflects in this video upon his past appointments, starting from his early steps as assistant Rabbi in Eli Munk’s Beit Midrash in Golders Green, and concluding with the creation of the New London synagogue and the instigation of the Masorti movement. He offers intimate descriptions of his experience in these communities, each time contemplating the religious outlook of their respective congregants and the various initiatives he undertook to further their development.
He takes the opportunity to offer some insights on what he refers to as minhag Angliya, or more simply, the traditional religious outlook of English Jews. The civility and intellectual integrity which, in his view, characterizes Anglo-Jewry, was lost over the past decades to a more haredi-influenced notion of hashkafah. Rabbi Jacobs debases this shift as ‘inauthentic’, and claims that it was with the intention of upholding the traditional religious outlook of British Jewry that he established the New London synagogue.
Finally, Louis Jacobs offers some insights on recent infighting within the English-Jewish community. He expresses certain reservations concerning the ideology professed by the Masorti movement, and in a similar vein, justifies his opposition to the Stanmore Accords, proclaiming that there is no use of holding back criticism in situations of ideological conflict.
The recording is followed by a short extract on mysticism, in which Rabbi Jacobs offers some reflections on the role of mysticism in contemporary Judaism. He puts forward his belief in the continued relevance of mystical and kabbalistic Jewish sources, each representing forms of expression of the ineffable. He debases, on the other hand, ‘Pop Kabbalah’, or the attraction to mystical excitement or ecstasy professed by a large number of individuals today (including Madonna, Barbara Streisand, or Mick Jager), arguing that such views are based on superstition, and come out as quaint.