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Brodie, Sir Israel


BRODIE, SIR ISRAEL (1895–1979), chief rabbi of the British Commonwealth, 1948 to 1965. Brodie was born in Newcastle-on-Tyne and educated at Jews' College, London, and at Oxford.

He served in World War i as a Jewish chaplain on the Western Front, and then worked in London's East End. From 1923 to 1937 he was senior minister in *Melbourne, Australia. Brodie returned to England in 1937 to study for an advanced degree at Oxford, and was also on the staff of Jews' College. He again served as a military chaplain during World War ii, becoming senior Jewish army chaplain in 1944. He was briefly principal of Jews' College in 1946 and in 1948 he succeeded J.H. *Hertz as chief rabbi, holding office until 1965. He was involved in two important controversies: one over his ruling (later modified) that the Israeli pronunciation of Hebrew should not be used in synagogues and in classrooms; the other when he decided that the liberal theological views of Louis *Jacobs disqualified him from being appointed as principal of Jews' College or a minister of the United Synagogue. Brodie edited the Eẓ Ḥayyim of *Jacob b. Judah Ḥazzan of London (3 vols., 1962–67). He was the divisional editor for rabbinical literature in the Encyclopaedia Judaica. Brodie was chief rabbi at a time of far-reaching change, marked by the creation of the State of Israel, the end of the British Empire, and the emergence of many divisions within Anglo-Jewry. He was a dedicated Zionist and recognized the centrality of Israel to contemporary Jewish life. He insisted on maintaining the traditional Orthodox interpretations of Jewish identity and practice. He generally conducted his office – with the exceptions noted above – in a quiet, reserved manner which avoided controversy. It can be argued that the *United Synagogue was at the peak of its influence during this time, which was generally one of expansion in the Anglo-Jewish mainstream. A Festschrift for Brodie, Essays Presented to … Israel Brodie, edited by Hirsch Jacob Zimmels, Joseph Rabbinowitz, and Israel Finestein, was published in two volumes in 1967.


Shaftesley, in: H.J. Zimmels et al. (eds.), Essays … I. Brodie… (1967), xi–xxxix. add. bibliography: odnb online; G. Alderman, Modern British Jewry (1992), index; W.D. Rubinstein, Jews in Great Britain, index.

[Vivian David Lipman /

William D. Rubinstein (2nd ed.)]

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