Community of Faith Paperback – 20 Nov 1995
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Community of Faith is a history of the United Synagogue, written by its Chief Rabbi, Professor Jonathan Sacks and also a defence of "minhag Angliya" the moderate Orthodoxy of the majority of Anglo-Jewry.
The United Synagogue of Great Britain is an Orthodox institution, but the majority of its members are not religiously observant. Elsewhere, these Jews would probably affiliate with a Reform or Conservative synagogue. Sacks argues that it is not apathy or a particular form of English hypocrisy that sees the United Synagogue tolerating members who flout its rules and practices, but rather a philosophy that values communal unity above individual practice:
The United Synagogue was not the projection of a particular school of thought. Instead, it drew its inspiration from all aspects of Jewish tradition. It was neither forced by Jewish dissent, nor prompted by inclination, to create an ideology. It stood quite simply for Judaism and Jews, wherever possible without qualifying adjectives.German Jews saw themselves, looking forward, as a group united by religious observance alone. American Jews, looking backwards regarded themselves as bound by a shared ethnicity and history. Sacks argues that the great achievement of the United Synagogue is that, by juggling both definitions of Jewish identity it has managed to keep most Jews within its fold.
Whether or not you agree with his argument, Sacks is a learned and eloquent writer and always a pleasure to read. --Zahavit Shalev
Top Customer Reviews
As in all his writings, he has the knack of putting highly complex and often controversial issues into clear and plain language on the page, enabling the reader to see the big picture, instead of getting lost in a whirlpool of media spin, ill-informed polemic and the bias born of ignorance or partisanship. With his exceptionally broad knowledge of both religious and secular literature and civilisation, his is a unique voice of authority, wisdom, balance and humanity - surely a welcome gift to the world in these troubled times.