Religion and the Common Good
Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks
Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks is a global religious leader, philosopher, author and moral voice for our time. A frequent contributor to radio, television and the press both in Britain and around the world, he has been described by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair as “truly a towering figure in the intellectual life… [who] relates the insights of religion to the modern world and retells the story of faith in a compelling way.”
Born in London in 1948, Rabbi Sacks obtained first class honours in philosophy at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, before pursuing postgraduate studies at New College, Oxford and gaining his Ph.D from King’s College London in 1981. He received rabbinic ordination from Jews’ College in London and Yeshiva Etz Chaim in Israel.
Rabbi Sacks was appointed to serve as Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth in September 1991, stepping down from office after 22 years in September 2013. He was only the sixth incumbent since the role was formalized in 1845.
A visiting professor at several universities in Britain, the United States and Israel, Rabbi Sacks is currently Visiting Professor of Theology at Kings’ College London. He holds 16 honorary degrees, including a Doctor of Divinity conferred to mark his first ten years in office as Chief Rabbi, by the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey.
In recognition of his work, Rabbi Sacks has been awarded several international awards, including the Jerusalem Prize in 1995 for his contribution to diaspora Jewish life and The Ladislaus Laszt Ecumenical and Social Concern Award from Ben Gurion University in Israel in 2011. He was knighted by Her Majesty The Queen in 2005 and made a Life Peer, taking his seat in the House of Lords in October 2009.
The author of 24 books, Rabbi Sacks has published commentaries to the daily Jewish prayer Book (siddur) and has completed commentaries to the Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Pesach festival prayer books (machzorim) to date. His most recent secular book – The Great Partnership: God, Science and the Search for Meaning – was published in July 2011 and was shortlisted for the National Jewish Book Awards in 2012. A number of his books have won literary awards, including the Grawemeyer Prize for Religion in 2004 for The Dignity of Difference, and a National Jewish Book Award in 2000 for A Letter in the Scroll. Covenant & Conversation: Genesis was also awarded a National Jewish Book Award in 2009. His Covenant & Conversation commentaries to the weekly Torah portion are read by thousands of people in Jewish communities around the world.
Rabbi Sacks has been married to Elaine since 1970. Together, they have three children – Joshua, Dina and Gila – and several grandchildren.