The Shmooze

Sacha Baron Cohen To Be Britain's New Chief Rabbi?

By Nathan Jeffay

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As discussed in last week’s Forward, Britain’s chief rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, has announced that he will retire in 2013, and speculation has begun about potential successors.

Sure, it’s fascinating to those of us who keep abreast of developments in the world’s Jewish communities, but did you know it’s also of interest to…. bookmakers. Believe it or not, you can now place a wager on who will fill Sacks’ shoes. Paddy Power, Ireland’s biggest betting company, is offering odds on 15 possible — or in some cases pretty impossible — successors. It’s open for bets online, here.

Most potential successors are British rabbis. A favorite (with 13/8 odds) is British export to the U.S. Shaul Robinson, who is currently senior rabbi at New York’s Lincoln Square Synagogue. The final column, however, consists of bizarre outsiders. There’s the Israeli modern-Orthodox leader Benny Lau (with 33/1 odds) and the British businessman and boss on the British version of “The Apprentice,” Alan Sugar (250/1).

Some more unlikely candidates come in with 500/1 odds: Sacha Baron Cohen of “Ali G” and “Borat” fame and comedienne Vanessa Feltz. And in case David Miliband — who was recently defeated by his brother Ed Miliband in the race for Britain’s Labour Party — is looking for a post that would make the family kvell, he’s also included as a 500/1 outsider.


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