#OnThisDay, 2020, we lost one of the most prolific voices of our generation: Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks z”l.
Rabbi Sacks was born in London on March 8, 1948. He 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 prominent Jewish leaders of the 20th century: Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik and Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe. They discussed issues of faith, philosophy and the future of the Jewish people. Famously, Rabbi Sacks says that Rabbi Soloveitchik “challenged me to think” and the Rebbe “challenged me to lead”. Following this visit, Rabbi Sacks pursued his rabbinic ordination and officially became a Rabbi.
He later went on to author 25 books, serve as Chief Rabbi of the UK and Commonwealth, was Knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2005 and awarded a life peerage four years later in the House of Lords. In 2021, Rabbi Sacks was awarded the Genesis Lifetime Achievement Award and was recognized for his extraordinary role inspiring the next generation of Jews, and for his illustrious life-long work as a teacher of Jewish values and an advocate of inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue.
May his memory be a blessing.
Written in collaboration with On This Day in Jewish History