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Rebel rabbi wins top vote in Britain

Dec. 30, 2005 at 1:00 PM

LONDON, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- Jews in Britain have voted a controversial 85-year-old rabbi from Manchester as the greatest member of their community.

The winner in the poll by The Jewish Chronicle was Louis Jacobs, a ground-breaking Jewish thinker noted for his attempt to reconcile modern scholarship and Orthodox teachings, reports the Independent newspaper.

He won over other illustrious British Jews including Harold Pinter, Isaiah Berlin and Benjamin Disraeli. His victory was heralded as a "stinging rebuke to fundamentalism," which could upset some in the Orthodox establishment.

The polling was done to celebrate next year's 350th anniversary of the readmission of Jews to England by Oliver Cromwell, the report said.

Jacobs said: "I feel both embarrassed and daft. I am overwhelmed and feel totally unworthy."

In the 1960s and 1970s, Jacobs' attempt to combine traditional theology with biblical criticism led to his leaving the United Synagogue and in the rise of the more liberal Masorti Judaism in Britain.

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