Sacks expresses regret over leaked letter

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Dr Jonathan Sacks, the Chief Rabbi (right), admitted yesterday that he had regrets over a letter in which he accused Hugo Gryn, the Reform rabbi who died last August, of being a destroyer of Judaism. But he said he was only attempting "to pre-empt civil war" between Orthodox and Reform Jews by talking to different sectors of the faith.

Speaking publicly for the first time on BBC Radio 4's Sunday programme yesterday, the Chief Rabbi said he had made "regrettable mistakes". But he insisted he would not resign."For me to resign would be to give a victory to the forces of disunity in our community."

Although Dr Sacks is widely regarded as the leader of Jews in Britain, he is technically only leader of the United Synagogues, the main Orthodox grouping.

The Reform movement was angered last August when he did not attend the funeral of its leader, Rabbi Gryn, a Holocaust survivor and radio broadcaster. But some Orthodox Jews were equally infuriated when the Chief Rabbi attended a memorial tribute to Rabbi Gryn last month. Yesterday Dr Sacks said the letter - leaked last week to the Jewish Chronicle - had been misunderstood. The differences between himself and Rabbi Gryn were "painful and intense" but should not be allowed to get in the way of "our common humanity, our common heritage".

"We have to work out a way in which we can speak and live in reasonable mutual respect and peaceful co-existence. We're just too small as a community, we've suffered too much at the hands of others, to inflict this suffering on ourselves."