Late Apple founder Steve Jobs has been praised during his life and after his death – but less than two months after succumbing to cancer, he is being attacked by the British chief rabbi.
"It's all i, i, i nowadays," Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks said at an interfaith reception attended by the Queen, accusing Jobs of helping create a selfish consumer culture that has only brought unhappiness.
"'The consumer society was laid down by the late Steve Jobs coming down the mountain with two tablets, iPad 1 and iPad 2, and the result is that we now have a culture of iPod, iPhone, iTune, i, i, i.
"When you're an individualist, egocentric culture and you only care about 'i’, you don’t do terribly well," he added.
Memorial for Steve Jobs at Apple offices in California (Photo: AFP)
According to British newspaper The Daily Mail, the spiritual leader of Britain's 300,000 Jews said advertising only made shoppers aware of what they did not have – rather than feeling grateful for what they did – and warned a culture where people only worried about themselves could not last long.
"What does a consumer ethic do? It makes you aware all the time of the things you don't have instead of thanking God for all the things you do have.
'If in a consumer society, through all the advertising and subtly seductive approaches to it, you've got an iPhone but you haven’t got a fourth generation one, the consumer society is in fact the most efficient mechanism ever devised for the creation and distribution of unhappiness."
"People are looking for values other than the values of a consumer society. The values of a consumer society really aren’t ones you can live by for terribly long," Rabbi Sacks stressed.
And what is the answer in his opinion? Faith and spending time with family, the rabbi said, are the only way to true happiness.
'Therefore the answer to the consumer society is the world of faith, which the Jews call the world of Shabbat, where you can't shop and you can't spend and you spend your time with things that matter, with family.
'Unless we get back to these values we will succeed in making our children and grandchildren ever unhappier."
Rabbi Sacks' office issued the following statement in response to the report: "The chief rabbi meant no criticism of either Steve Jobs personally or the contribution Apple has made to the development of technology in the 21st century. He admires both and indeed uses an iPhone and an iPad on a daily basis. The chief rabbi was simply pointing out the potential dangers of consumerism when taken too far."