The Right Honourable
|Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth|
|Organisation||United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth|
|Predecessor||The Lord Jakobovits|
|Birth name||Jonathan Henry Sacks (Yaakov Zvi)|
8 March 1948 |
|Spouse||Elaine Taylor Sacks|
|Children||Joshua, Dina and Gila|
|Alma mater||Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge
New College, Oxford
King's College London
|Semicha||Jews' College and Etz Chaim Yeshiva (London)|
Sir Jonathan Henry Sacks, Baron Sacks, Kt (born 8 March 1948) was the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth. His Hebrew name is Yaakov Zvi. As the spiritual head of the United Synagogue, the largest synagogue body in the UK, he was the Chief Rabbi of those Orthodox synagogues, but he was not a religious authority for the Federation of Synagogues or the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations or the other movements, Masorti, Reform and Liberal Judaism.
- 1 Family
- 2 Education
- 3 Career
- 4 Praise and recognition
- 5 Views
- 6 Current positions
- 7 Previous positions held
- 8 Works by Jonathan Sacks
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Sacks was educated at St Mary's Primary School and Christ's College Finchley, Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge (MA), New College, Oxford, King's College London (PhD), Jews' College London and Etz Chaim Yeshiva (London).
In addition to the PhD he earned at King's College, he has also been awarded honorary doctorates from the universities of: Cambridge; Glasgow; Haifa; Middlesex; Yeshiva University; Liverpool and St. Andrews, University of Roehampton and is an honorary fellow of Gonville and Caius and King's College London.
In September 1991 Sacks succeeded Lord Jakobovits as Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth. Prior to taking up his current post, Rabbi Sacks was Principal of Jews' College, as well as rabbi of the Golders Green and Marble Arch synagogues.
Sacks heads the Chief Rabbi's Cabinet consisting of fourteen other rabbis who advise him on a number of areas, such as Jewish education, Israel, Jewish-Christian relations, matters relating to the Beit Din (Jewish court), and several other areas of concern to religious members of the Jewish community. The Chief Rabbi's Cabinet meets on a quarterly basis and its members are entitled to represent the Chief Rabbi at public events.
Sacks had been Principal of Jews' College, London, the British rabbinical seminary, as well as rabbi of the Golders Green (1978–1982) and Marble Arch (1983–1990) Synagogues in London. He gained rabbinic ordination from Jews' College as well as from London's Etz Chaim Yeshiva.
Praise and recognition
On 13 July 2009 it was announced that Sacks was recommended for a life peerage with a seat in the House of Lords by the House of Lords Appointments Commission. He took the style Baron Sacks of Aldgate in the City of London.
He was invited to the wedding of Prince William of Wales and Kate Middleton as a representative for the Jewish community.
Some Orthodox opposition
After the publication of his book The Dignity of Difference, a group of Haredi rabbis, most notably Rabbis Yosef Shalom Elyashiv and Bezalel Rakow, accused Sacks of heresy against what they consider the traditional Orthodox viewpoint. According to them, some words seemed to imply an endorsement of pure relativism between religions, and that Judaism is not the sole true religion, e.g. "No one creed has a monopoly on spiritual truth." This led him to rephrase more clearly some sentences in the book for its second edition, though he refused to recall books already in the stores.
In his "Preface to the Second Edition" of the book, Sacks wrote that certain passages in the book had been misconstrued: he had already explicitly criticised cultural and religious relativism in his book, and he did not deny Judaism's uniqueness. He also stressed however that mainstream rabbinic teachings teach that wisdom, righteousness and the possibility of a true relationship with God are all available in non-Jewish cultures and religions as an on-going heritage from the covenant that God made with Noah and all his descendants, so the tradition teaches that one does not need to be Jewish to know God or truth or to attain salvation. As this diversity of covenantal bonds implies, however, traditional Jewish sources do clearly deny that any one creed has a monopoly on spiritual truth. Monopolistic and simplistic claims of universal truth he has characterized as imperialistic, pagan and Platonic, and not Jewish at all.
Efforts to accommodate Haredi Jews
A book by the British historian and journalist Meir Persoff, Another Way, Another Time, has argued that "Sacks’s top priority has been staying in the good graces of the Haredi, or strictly Orthodox, faction, whose high birthrate has made it the fastest-growing component of British Jewry." But, Persoff has argued, "the Orthodox circles Sacks strives to placate will never consider him Orthodox enough no matter what he does."
Rabbi Gryn and Rabbi Jacobs
Sacks provoked considerable controversy in the Anglo-Jewish community in 1996 when he refused to attend the funeral service of the late Reform Rabbi Hugo Gryn and a private letter he had written in Hebrew, which (in translation) asserted that Gryn was "among those who destroy the faith," was leaked and published. He wrote further that he was an "enemy" of the Reform, Liberal and Masorti movements, leading some to reject the notion that he is "Chief Rabbi" for all Jews in Britain. He attended a memorial meeting for Gryn, a move that brought the wrath of some in the ultra-Orthodox community. Rabbi Dow Marmur argued that after attending the memorial service, Sacks then attempted to placate the ultra-Orthodox community, an attempt which Marmur has described as “neurotic and cowardly."
A similar stance was taken by Sacks and his Beth Din when they prevented the retired Rabbi Louis Jacobs, who had helped establish the British branch of the Masorti movement, from being called up for the Reading of the Torah on the Saturday before his grand-daughter's wedding.
Secularism and Europe's changing demographics
Sacks has expressed concern at what he regards as the negative effects of materialism and secularism in European society, arguing that they undermine the basic values of family life and lead to selfishness. In 2009 Sacks gave an address claiming that Europeans have chosen consumerism over the self-sacrifice of parenting children, and that "the major assault on religion today comes from the neo-Darwinians." He argued that Europe is in population decline "because non-believers lack shared values of family and community that religion has."
Consumerism and Steve Jobs
Rabbi Sacks made remarks at an inter-faith reception attended by the Queen, in November 2011, in which he criticised what he believed to be the 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 one and iPad two, 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."  In a later statement, the Chief Rabbi's office said "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."
Opposition to gay marriage
- Professor of Judaic Thought, New York University, New York (announced 29 October 2013).
- Professor of Jewish Thought, Yeshiva University, New York (announced 29 October 2013).
- Rabbi and Spiritual Leader, Western Marble Arch Synagogue, London (since 1 May 2004).
- Jakobovits Professor in modern Jewish thought, Jews' College London, 1982.
- Visiting professor of theology at King's College London.
- Honorary fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, 1993.
- Presentation (Honorary) fellow, King's College London, 1993.
- Member of the Board of World Religious Leaders, The Elijah Interfaith Institute.
Previous positions held
- Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth (1 September 1991 – 1 September 2013).
- Lecturer in moral philosophy, Middlesex Polytechnic, 1971–1973.
- Lecturer, Jews' College London, 1973–82; director of its rabbinic facility, 1983–1990; Principal, 1984–1990.
- Visiting professor of philosophy at the University of Essex, 1989–1990.
- Sherman lecturer at the University of Manchester, 1989.
- Riddell lecturer at the University of Newcastle.
- Cook lecturer at the University of Oxford, University of Edinburgh and the University of St Andrews.
- Visiting professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Works by Jonathan Sacks
- Torah Studies: Discourses by Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson (1986)
- Traditional alternatives: Orthodoxy and the future of the Jewish people (1989)
- Tradition in an Untraditional Age (1990)
- BBC Reith Lectures: The Persistence of Faith (1990)
- Persistence of Faith (1991)
- Arguments for the Sake of Heaven (1991)
- Crisis and Covenant (1992)
- One People? (1993)
- Will We Have Jewish Grandchildren? (1994)
- Community of Faith (1995)
- The Politics of Hope (1997 revised 2nd edition 2000)
- Morals and Markets (1999)
- Celebrating Life (2000)
- Radical Then, Radical Now (published in America as A Letter in the Scroll) (2001)
- Dignity of Difference (2002) (Grawemeyer Award winner)
- The Chief Rabbi's Haggadah (2003)
- To Heal a Fractured World – The Ethics of Responsibility (2005)
- The Authorised Daily Prayer Book of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, Fourth Edition (2006)
- The Home We Build Together – Recreating Society (2007)
- The Koren Sacks Siddur (2009)
- Covenant & Conversation: A Weekly Reading of the Jewish Bible (2009)
- Future Tense: Jews, Judaism, and Israel in the Twenty-first Century (2009)
- The Great Partnership: God, Science and the Search For Meaning (2011)
- The Koren Sacks Rosh HaShana Mahzor (2011)
- The Koren Sacks Pesah Mahzor (2013)
- Abrams, Hester (7 December 1991). "Philosopher is new leader of Britain's Jews : Educational standards, disintegrating family concern rabbi". The Record (Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario). p. C11. "He is officially head of the mainstream United Synagogue, but is not recognized as religious leader by many in the progressive Reform and Liberal movements"
- Butt, Riazat (13 July 2009). "Chief Rabbi joins House of Lords". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 15 August 2009. "The decision to confer a title on Sacks may anger Jews from both the progressive and strictly orthodox branches who do not recognise him as their religious leader"
- Sylvester, Rachel; Thomson, Alice. "Jonathan Sacks's solution to family breakdown", The Daily Telegraph, 3 November 2007. Accessed 11 April 2011.
- Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks. chiefrabbi.org
- you’re reading... My Philosophy: Jonathan Sacks. Interview by Julian Baggini
- Biography Of The Chief Rabbi. Chiefrabbi.org. Retrieved on 3 December 2011
- "2004- Jonathan Sacks".
- The London Gazette: . 10 June 2005.
- Honorary Freemen of the London Borough of Barnet. Barnet.gov.uk (29 September 2009). Retrieved on 3 December 2011
- Paul, Jonny (July 13, 2009). "UK chief rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks gets peerage". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2009-07-20.
- House of Lords Appointments Commission. Lordsappointments.gov.uk (13 July 2009). Retrieved on 3 December 2011.
- The London Gazette: . 8 September 2009.
- "Royal wedding guest list". BBC News. 23 April 2011.
- Petre, Jonathan (15 February 2003). "Chief Rabbi revises book after attack by critics". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 7 May 2010.
- Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, The Dignity of Difference, 2nd edition, 2003, pp. vii, 52–65
- Faith Lectures: Jewish Identity: The Concept of a Chosen People. Chief Rabbi (1 December 1990). Retrieved on 3 December 2011.
- See ibid., Chapter 3: "Exorcising Plato's Ghost," and reaffirmed in his book, Future Tense, 2009, Chapter 4: "The Other: Judaism, Christianity and Islam."
- MP9996 (16 May 2010). "Is Sacks Britain’s Last Chief Rabbi?". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 12 October 2013.
- "Jonathan Sacks: Defender of the faith", The Independent, 8 September 2001
- Ian Burrell, "Leaked letter widens schism in Jewry", The Independent, 15 March 1997
- Simon Rocker (22 October 2010). "Lord Sacks criticised by progressive rabbi". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 12 October 2013.
- "Rabbi Dr Louis Jacobs". The Times (London). 4 July 2006. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
- "Europeans too selfish to have children, says Chief Rabbi". The Daily Telegraph (London). 5 November 2009. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
- Butt, Riazat (5 November 2009). "Falling birth rate is killing Europe, says chief rabbi Jonathan Sacks". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 7 May 2010.
- Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks: Europe is dying from secularism – Ruth Gledhill – TimesOnline. RichardDawkins.net (5 November 2009). Retrieved on 3 December 2011.
- "Selfish culture is killing secular Europe, says Chief Rabbi". Daily Mail (London). 6 November 2009.
- Lee Moran 'It's all i, i, i nowadays': Chief Rabbi blasts late Apple boss Steve Jobs for helping to create a selfish consumer society. Mail Online. 21 November 2011
- Does this not make the UK's Chief Rabbi a hypocrite? – Downtime. Computerweekly.com (23 November 2011). Retrieved on 3 December 2011.
- Chief Rabbi blames Apple for helping create selfish society. Telegraph. Retrieved on 2011-12-03.
- Rabbi vs. Steve Jobs: iThis & iThat cause sadness – OTOH: On the other hand. Blogs.computerworlduk.com. Retrieved on 3 December 2011.
- Rocker, Simon (5 July 2012). "Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks attacked over gay marriage opposition". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 12 October 2013.
- Sacks, Jonathan (6 June 2001). "Faith Lectures: The Messianic Idea Today". "But I can’t say very much about chickens because I’m a vegetarian and I stay milchik all the time."
- The Elijah Interfaith Institute – Jewish Members of the Board of World Religious Leaders. Elijah-interfaith.org (1 September 1991). Retrieved on 3 December 2011.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Jonathan Sacks|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Jonathan Sacks.|
- Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks' new website
- Office of the Chief Rabbi
- Koren Publishers Jerusalem website
- Amazon Author Page
- The 1990 BBC Reith Lectures 1990: The Persistence of Faith
- Jonathan Sacks and Richard Dawkins at BBC RE:Think festival, YouTube, 12 September 2012.
|Chief Rabbi of Great Britain and the Commonwealth