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Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks Biography

The Office for Values and Leadership

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, of blessed memory, (1948-2020) was a religious leader, Life Peer in the United Kingdom’s House of Lords, philosopher, theologian, author, and a global voice for faith and morality. He was the winner of the Jerusalem Prize and a Templeton Prize Laureate, awarded for work that “affirms life’s spiritual dimension.” Rabbi Sacks was the Principal of Jews’ College from 1984-1990 (currently the London School for Jewish Studies) and then served as the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth for twenty-two years. In that capacity, he was a frequent guest on television and radio programs, gave the prestigious BBC Reith Lectures and had a long-standing column, “Credo,” for The Times that forms the basis of the book The Power of Ideas, published posthumously. Rabbi Sacks authored close to 40 books, including edited editions of Siddurim, Machzorim and a Haggadah. Many of his publications won national and international awards.

Rabbi Sacks served as a visiting professor of Jewish thought at Yeshiva University in 2013. He was also a visiting professor at both Hebrew University and New York University. In the United Kingdom, he lectured in moral philosophy at King’s College, London, University of Essex, University of Manchester, University of Oxford, University of Edinburgh, University of St. Andrews, and Middlesex Polytechnic. 

His teachings continue to influence countless people worldwide. The Rabbi Sacks Legacy Trust was established to expose people to the breadth of his work and provide resources for study and inspiration.

Rabbi Sacks is survived by his wife, Lady Elaine, his children - Joshua, Dina and Gila- three brothers - Alan, Brian and Eliot - and nine grandchildren.

His influence as a defender of our faith and of all faith traditions persists through his writings and teachings. Dr. Erica Brown, Vice President for Values and Leadership at Yeshiva University and Director of the Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks-Hernenstein Center, eulogized him as “a spiritual aristocrat with a regal bearing who inspired with his repeated calls for hope.” His wife, Lady Elaine Sacks, said, “My husband's relationship with Yeshiva University was one he treasured over many decades. We always enjoyed our visits to the campus, in large part because of the warm reception he always received and, most importantly, because of what Yeshiva University stood for: a combination of Torah u'Madda, of Torah knowledge and worldly wisdom. It was this combination that framed my husband's life and work. That is why it means a great deal to me and my family to see his legacy and teachings continue in this way at Yeshiva University.” His memory will always be a blessing.

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