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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0074 ACC/2805/06
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1917-1967
Level of description: Collection
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Extent: 12.25 linear metres
Name of creator(s): Brodie | Sir | Israel | 1895-1979 | knight | chief rabbi


Administrative/Biographical history:

Israel Brodie was born in Newcastle upon Tyne and was educated at Rutherford College, University College London, Jews College and Balliol College, Oxford. Between 1917 and 1919 Brodie served as a chaplain in France and Belgium. After the war he returned to Oxford and also worked as a chaplain and counsellor in the east end of London. He was ordained in 1923 and then moved to Australia to head the Jewish ecclesiastical court in Victoria. During his time there he visited all Jewish congregations on that continent.

Israel Brodie returned to England at the end of the 1930s to become a senior lecturer at Jews' College. He entered into military chaplaincy on the outbreak of war and served in France and the Middle East. For a short period after the war he served as Principal of Jews' College; in 1948 he succeeded Joseph Hertz as Chief Rabbi.

He was by temperament a more peaceable character than his predecessor. Israel Brodie was energetic in working to advance the cause of the new state of Israel and in efforts for the reconstruction of the remnants of European Jewry. Improvements in air travel meant that he was able to tour provincial and overseas communities and congregations frequently. He visited Israel many times and supported the foundation of the Bar-Ilan University where a chair was endowed in his honour. In 1957 Brodie convened a standing conference of European rabbis of which he long remained President.

Israel Brodie faced what was probably his greatest crisis in the 1960s. In 1962 he vetoed the return of Rabbi Dr. Louis Jacobs to be Minister of the New West End Synagogue. Dr. Jacobs, a notable scholar, had a few years earlier left that position in order to assume at the Chief Rabbi's invitation the post of tutor at Jews' College. Following differences connected with Jacobs' theological and doctrinal opinions (which he had made before his appointment to the College), he had retired from the College. The New West End Synagogue now defied Brodie and a majority confirmed Jacobs' re-appointment. A public debate about the powers of the Chief Rabbinate broke out. Finally, the Board of Management of the New West End Synagogue were dismissed by the Council of the United Synagogue; Jacobs and many of his followers broke away from the New West End Synagogue to form the independent New London Synagogue which became the nucleus of the Masorti movement in Britain.

Israel Brodie retired in 1965, the first Chief Rabbi to leave office by retirement. During retirement he was knighted and he died on the 13th of February 1979.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records from the Chief Rabbinate of Israel Brodie, 1917-1967, including public messages, circular letters, prayers and appeals issued by the Chief Rabbi; orders of service; correspondence with a variety of individuals and organisations including the Anglo-Jewish Association, Aria College, the London Beth Din, the Board of Deputies, the Central Council of Jewish Religious Education, Jewish Day Schools Council, the Jewish Board of Guardians, Jews' College, the London Jewish Hospital; the Kashrus Commission; the Kosher School Meals Service, the London Board of Jewish Religious Education, London County Council, the Rabbinical Commission, the London Board for Shechita, and the United Synagogue.

Correspondence with congregations in Great Britain and Ireland, including arrangements for pastoral tours, and correspondence with congregations abroad including in America, Australia, Canada, France, India, Israel, New Zealand, South Africa and the Soviet Union.

Correspondence on subjects including anti-semitism, kosher food, marriage, relief organisations, congregations, education, yeshivot, refugees, Hebrew pronunciation, Israel, liberal Judaism and reform synagogue, Russian Jews, shechita, sopherim training, and teacher training.

Papers relating to the Committee on Calendar Reform including minutes and resolutions of protest. Papers relating to refugees and post-war reconstruction, including report on Belsen Concentration Camp, reports and correspondence of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany, Commission on the Status of Jewish War Orphans in Europe, Refugee Rabbis Relief Programme and speeches made at the League of Nations.

PLEASE NOTE: Records can only be accessed with the written permission of the depositor. Contact the Chief Executive, Office of Chief Rabbi, 735 High Road, North Finchley, London NW12 OUS.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

The archives have been arranged into the following series:
ACC/2805/06/01 General;
ACC/2805/06/02 Congregations in Great Britain;
ACC/2805/06/03 Congregations and communal organisations overseas;
ACC/2805/06/04 Calendar reform;
ACC/2805/06/05 Post war reconstruction.

Conditions governing access:

Access by written permission only.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright to these records rests with the depositor.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Deposited as part of several accessions of material from the Office of the Chief Rabbi.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
Description prepared in March 2010.

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