Rabbi Jonathan Sacks z’’l, a recognized philosopher, politician, author, and moral leader tragically passed away from cancer on November 7, 2020. The Shloshim – the traditional 30 day mourning Jewish period – in his honor ended on December 6, 2020. Rabbi Sacks made an immeasurable impact on the modern world.


Born in the United Kingdom, Rabbi Sacks attended Anglican public schools as a child, just as many other Jewish children did in those days. As he grew older, his belief in Judaism only solidified. He learned philosophy at the University of Cambridge and then committed to Judaic studies and teaching others. Rabbi Sacks became an ordained rabbi at the age of 28 and eventually received a PhD in philosophy.


Rabbi Sacks contributed to Jewish communities across the globe by fighting against anti-semitism and promoting unity between religions. He sustained harmonious relationships with other high officials such as Queen Elizabeth, Tony Blair (the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom), and Canterbury’s previous archbishop, George Carey. 

Rabbi Sacks held the position of Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth for 22 years, which is one of the highest Jewish roles in Europe. After he stepped down in 2013, Rabbi Sacks decided to continue teaching at universities such as New York University, Yeshiva University, and King’s College London.


Rabbi Sacks wrote more than 25 books and appeared on television on his own TED Talk about “Facing the Future Without Fear.” He held many lectures and was able to spread his teachings worldwide. Rabbi Sacks stressed the importance of being proud of one’s Jewish identity. He also believed that “God has spoken to mankind in many languages: through Judaism to the Jews, Christianity to Christians, Islam to Muslims… God is the god of all humanity, but no single faith is or should be the faith of all humanity.”

A major advocate for Jewish day schools, Rabbi Sacks said that “If you want to save the Jewish future, you have to build Jewish day schools – there is no other way.” He said that it is very important to be prideful as a Jew, and Jewish schools should also emphasize chesed (kindness) and embrace Judaism.


Over the course of his lifetime, Rabbi Sacks received numerous awards for his achievements. The Jerusalem Prize was given to Rabbi Sacks as well as the The Ladislaus Laszt Ecumenical and Social Concern Award from Ben Gurion University, the Guardian of Zion Award from the Ingeborg Rennert Center for Jerusalem Studies at Bar-Ilan University, and the Katz Award for his evaluation of applying Halacha, Jewish law, in modern lives. Rabbi Sacks also received the Bradley Prize in 2016 for being “a leading moral voice in today’s world,” the Lifetime Achievement Award from The London Jewish news, and many more.

Lielle Daniel, a freshman, remarked, “It’s inspiring how much one person can accomplish in their lifetime and it’s incredible to think of what Rabbi Sacks did on a worldwide scale.”


Rabbi Jonathan Sacks once said that “Leaders see the destination, begin the journey, and leave behind them those who will continue it. That is enough to endow a life with immortality.” 

Hannah Stern, a junior, added, “Although Rabbi Sacks passed away, he left behind so much of his teachings and publications for generations to come.” Rabbi Sacks led a full life and positively influenced so many people around the world, and will continue to do so with his rich legacy.

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