Chief Rabbi in blistering attack on sect

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The Independent Online
The Chief Rabbi, Dr Jonathan Sacks, has damaged his image as a conciliator with an outspoken attack on a Jewish sect whose doctrines differ by a hair's breadth from his own Orthodoxy. Dr Sacks wrote in an article for the right-wing Jewish Tribune, that "Anglo-Jewry faces a danger [from] the Masorti movement [which] claims to be orthodox and traditional.

"The worst kind of dishonesty is intellectual dishonesty," Dr Sacks wrote in the article, obtained ahead of publication by the rival Jewish Chronicle. Masorti claims to be orthodox were, he said, "disreputable and unforgivable".

The Masorti movement was founded in 1962 by Rabbi Louis Jacobs, until then a pillar of Orthodoxy. However, Dr Jacobs decided he had to accept the conclusion common to almost all biblical scholars, except orthodox Jews and some Christian fundamentalists,

that the first five books of the Bible are the products of an editing process in which at least two early sources have been combined.

Dr Jacobs and his followers continue to believe that the Bible is divinely inspired, and continue to observe almost all the commandments and taboos of Orthodoxy. Their only visible breach with the Orthodox tradition is that they allow women to worship onthe same synagogue floor as men, though in a separate part of the room.

But recent attempts by the Masorti movement to open a synagogue in Manchester have been met by a frenzy of denunciation from Orthodox rabbis.