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Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks zt”l is Born, 1948

Updated: Mar 25, 2021

On This Day in Jewish History: March 8, 1948


On this day, 1948, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks was born in Lambeth, London to Louis David Sacks and Louisa Frumkin – a family of Jewish wine merchants and textile sellers. One of four boys, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks would grow up to become one of the most influential Jewish figures of the modern era. He served as the Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom, head of the London Beit Din, was knighted, became a Member of the House of Lords. Following the end of his career as Chief Rabbi, he had immense success writing, travelling for speaking engagements, and as a professor in various universities. In the fall of 2020, Rabbi Sacks went public with the news that he had been diagnosed with cancer and sadly, on November 7, 2020 he passed away at the age of 72. Both the Jewish and non-Jewish world, his family, and all who knew him personally continue to mourn the loss of one of the greatest figures of our generation. Rabbi Sacks inspired us at On This Day in Jewish History in ways we were never able to express to him, so we take a moment to emphatically say: May his memory be a blessing, Baruch Dayan Ha’Emet. At a young age, Rabbi Sacks attended St. Mary’s Primary School, Christs College, and would go on to attend Cambridge where he studied Philosophy with a first-class honors degree. Rabbi Sacks did not have the deepest connection to his Jewish identity – that was until he visited New York as a student at Cambridge and met with 2 of the major Jewish leaders of the 20th century: Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik and Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson (The Rebbe). Famo usly, Rabbi Sacks says that Rabbi Soloveitchik “challenged me to think” and the Rebbe “challenged me to lead”. Following this visit, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks pursued his rabbinic ordination and offici ally became a rabbi. From 1978 to 1982, Rabbi Sacks held his first rabbinic appointment at Golders Green synagogue in London. By 1991, he would hold 2 different rabbinic positions – one at Western Marble Arch Synagogue and as Principal of Jews’ College. At this point, in ’91, Rabbi Sacks was given the honor of serving as the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth – holding this position until 2013. In 2005, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth and in July of 2009, Rabbi Sacks added another important title to his name when the House of Lords Appointments Commissions recommended him for a life peerage with a seat in the House of Lords. He took on the title, Baron Sacks, of Aldgate in the City of London and officially became Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. Throughout his life, Rabbi Sacks would be a visiting professor in multiple universities in Britain, the US and Israel and held 16 honorary degrees. He went on to write 25 books, publish commentaries in prayer books for Pesach, Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Shavuot, publish his own Pesach Haggadah, and complete multiple series of commentaries on the weekly Torah portion that continues to be read by thousands of Jews every week. Some of his most widely read books are Not in God's Name: Confronting Religious Violence, The Great Partnership: God, Science and the Search for Meaning, The Dignity of Difference, “Morality: Restoring the Common Good in Divided Times.”, and Covenant & Conversation. In 2017, Rabbi Sacks gave a TED Talk titled, “Facing the Future Without Fear” - a talk that has over 2M views as of this posting. Throughout his life, Rabbi Sacks was a prolific voice of reason, morality, strength, and Jewish pride. A good portion of his impact lay in how he inspired countless of Jews to look within and consider why things happen a certain way? How should we behave in certain situations? How can we become better, more moral leaders of tomorrow? In addition to his illustrious philosophical work, Rabbi Sacks was a proud Zionist who fought for the rights of Jews to have self-determination in their ancestral homeland. In many occasions, Rabbi Sacks loudly called out the ever-present and rising dangers of antisemitism around the world – especially in his home country of England. We continually honor Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks’ legacy. May his memory be a blessing, BDE. One can find most of his published work online on his website rabbisacks.org. His social media accounts are also active as “The Rabbi Sacks Legacy Trust”: Promoting the work of Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks zt”l who passed away on 07/11/20. Religious leader, philosopher, author, moral voice & Templeton Prize Laureate.

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