Hats in the Ring - (Judaism and Jewish Life) by Meir Persoff (Paperback)
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"Book Synopsis Prior to the latest Chief Rabbinical selection process, seven eminent rabbis were appointed to British Jewry's highest ecclesiastical post, although only six were installed and saw out their terms of office. The manner of their appointment was invariably coloured by intrigue, in-fighting and a host of other influences, not least an increasingly potent input by the dayanim of the London Beth Din, themselves not immune to strategic self-interest. Meir Persoff's scholarly yet accessible account of these seven appointments draws on a wealth of hitherto unaccessed and unpublished material, and on the stories of many of the protagonists involved, including in fascinating detail those who, by fair means and foul, failed to gain (or chose to reject) the coveted prize. Review Quotes ""[T]his meticulously researched and footnoted book [adds] a valuable dimension to our understanding of a peculiar establishment that has wielded a fair amount of power in our age. . . . Sure to resonate most strongly with British and Anglophile Jews, as well as serious students of modern Jewish history, Hats in the Ring provides a wealth of insights into the effort to procure for Great Britain 'a spiritual guide, competent to maintain piety and peace, ' as the position was described in 1843.""--Abigail Klein Leichman ""The Jerusalem Post Magazine"" Hats in the Ring is not a compendium of deeds and accomplishments of Great Britain's Chief Rabbis, but rather a history of the inter-communal fighting, discord, and dissensions leading up to the appointment of a chief rabbi. In addition to watching the 'power plays, ' we come to understand many of the endemic problems and issues facing Britain's Jews from the mid-nineteenth through the mid-twentieth centuries.... Drawing on a vast number of correspondence and other primary materials, Hats in the Ring shows us how the nature of the position and personal qualifications of Chief Rabbi changed with the times as a result of: the continual feuding between Orthodox Jewry and Judaism's more modern sects, including the Conservative movement's Masorti, and unprecedented international situations, such as the Holocaust and the birth of the modern State of Israel. Persoff does an outstanding job redacting a vast amount of information and blending it into a clear and comprehensive study of the Anglo-Jewish community as it searches for and selects religious leadership at the highest level.--Dr Fred Reiss ""San Diego Jewish World"" Historians sharply focused on Anglo-Jewry will have reason to be grateful to Dr Persoff for the choice fare that he has here set before them. Whatever their views, and however they understand the personalities and interpret the events, they will find themselves in his debt for having drawn attention to such a wealth of source material and for having made available to them many items that were hitherto unknown or inadequately exploited. - Stefan C. Reif, Emeritus Professor of Medieval Hebrew and Fellow of St John's College, University of Cambridge Meir Persoff has contributed significantly to our understanding of the British Chief Rabbinate through his previous publications. In this study, [he] has devoted his attention to how the last six chief rabbis were appointed, covering a 170-year period. It is a perceptive choice of subject. The process of choosing leaders of important organizations may tell us a great deal about both the organization and its environment. In Hats in the Ring, Persoff not only explores the intricate politics of each appointment in detail, but also provides the reader with the induction address of each appointee. The work has clearly involved him in ploughing through the dusty archives of many communal organizations, as well as numerous personal papers, along with the more obvious sources of the Jewish and general press. It is all meticulously documented, with copious notes and references. The role and different styles of the various lay leaders, and the often unseemly maneuverings taking place under what appeared to be a serene, calm surface, are described in detail. Persoff is meticulous in his use of sources and judgment about what is relevant or irrelevant. There is important material here for anyone interested in Anglo-Jewish history, and in particular the politics of communal decision-making.--Professor Leslie Wagner ""Jewish Political Studies Review, Volume 25, # 3-4, November 2014"" Meir Persoff has mined an impressive range of communal records, memoirs, interviews and the available secondary sources to provide case studies of the communal politics behind each selection [of British Chief Rabbi]. . . . A major strength of the book is that by focusing on the election process, Persoff, a former editor at the Jewish Chronicle, provides insight into both the long-term tensions within Anglo-Jewry and a snapshot of intra-communal issues that dominated each Chief Rabbi's selection. Persoff also provides the text of the inaugural sermon of each rabbi, "

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