Jewry Is More "Exciting" in the U.S. Than in Europe

Question: How is being Jewish different in the U.K. than it is\r\n in the U.S.?

\r\nLord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks:  The Jewish community in the United \r\nStates is 20 times as big as the Jewish community in Britain so you have\r\n critical mass.  We were walking through Fifth Avenue as part of the \r\nIsrael parade in New York.  Now, the hundreds of thousands of people \r\nthat take part in that—we couldn’t possibly assemble that many people, \r\nalthough you know, we’ve done not badly.  But the maximum we’ve ever got\r\n together is 55,000 Jews in Trafalgar Square.  The sheer scale of Jewry \r\nin America is a quantum leap from what it is in any European country and\r\n that is… that results in enormous diversity, creativity.  American \r\nJewry is exciting in ways that just don’t have the numbers for. 
Should the U.S. have a Chief Rabbi?

\r\nLord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks:  The United States does not have an \r\nArchbishop of Canterbury.  It doesn’t have central institutionalized \r\nreligious leadership.  So there’s no model on which the Jewish community\r\n could possibly build.  The United States is the United States and I \r\nlove it and Britain is Britain and it’s different.  I mean we have \r\nmonarch.  We have, you know, a House of Lords, all this kind of stuff \r\nwhich just looks crazy to an American, or either that or very ancient.  \r\nAnd it is very ancient but it’s very beautiful so I think each country \r\nfinds its own way of being itself and every Jewish community finds its \r\nown way of being Jewish.
What do you say to those who believe the role of Chief \r\nRabbi has run its course?

\r\nLord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks:  That statement really has never been \r\nmore untrue.  It is absolutely clear today that given the smallness of \r\nour community, not only are there more Muslims than Jews in Britain, not\r\n only are there more Hindus than Jews in Britain, there are more Sikhs \r\nthan Jews in Britain.  And if we continue to want to have some kind of \r\ninfluence, we’re going to need the two kinds of representative voice \r\nthat we have.  One if called the Board of Deputies, which defends Jewish\r\n interestsa bit like your Conference of Presidents.  And the other is \r\nthe Chief Rabbi who articulates Judaic principle.  So given that the \r\nworld if more unstable—Europe especially than ever before—I think every \r\nother religious community envies us for this particular office.  The \r\nMuslims, the Sikhs and the Hindus would love to have such a thing but \r\nthey are not constituted to do it and so they don’t.
\r\nRecorded May 24, 2010
\r\nInterviewed by Jessica Liebman

The size of the Jewish community in America is a quantum leap from what it is in any European country—and its sheer scale makes it more "exciting."

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