Non-Religious Factors in the Emergence of the Chief

The emergence of the Chief Rabbinate has usually been taken to mean the development of the Rabbinate of the Great Synagogue, London, into the central authority for Orthodox Jewry throughout the British Commonwealth. It is not the purpose of this paper to enter into any discussion of the current significance or future development of the office, but I assume, as a fact that would be accepted by supporters and detractors alike, that the Chief Rabbinate has been the most important institution in the history of Anglo-Jewry and that it has wielded authority of a type and extent that is rarely, if ever, to be found elsewhere, at least since the close of the Geonic period. The history of the Rabbinate of the Great Synagogue has been closely studied and its evolution into the Chief Rabbinate cannot be gainsaid, but this narrow approach has tended to ignore other and more decisive

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