It is with huge sadness and a deep sense of loss that we at the Commonwealth Jewish Council heard the news of the passing of Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks on Shabbat 7th November 2020 after a brief and savage illness.
Jonathan Sacks had been Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth from 1991 to 2013. Throughout this period and after, he conducted a continuous programme of visiting communities large and small throughout the UK as well as making significant and long remembered visits to Australia, Canada, South Africa, Hong Kong and other countries of the Commonwealth and, of course, regularly speaking and teaching in the USA and Israel. There can hardly be a thoughtful Jew in the world, of any denomination or none who has not heard one of his talks, followed one of his podcasts, read one of his posts or studied one of his books. Further, his masterful commentaries on the siddur (prayerbook), weekly Torah readings (in Covenant and Conversation) and festival prayers breathed new life into well-worn prayers and texts, casting a scintillating fresh insight into the central texts and teachings of the Jews.
But Sacks was a Professor as well as a rabbi. He communicated far beyond the Jewish world. His books were considered valuable and uplifting by the wider public and leading world figures. Indeed, Prince Charles, in a lovely turn on Isaiah’s expression of the mission of the Jews, called Sacks a ’light unto this nation’ in his comments at Lord Sacks’s retirement from his role as Chief Rabbi.
It is no exaggeration to say that few rabbis have ever done more to help the ordinary Jew make sense of the challenging realities of the current world through the rich resource of Jewish teaching. In that, his closest parallel is Maimonides. It is no coincidence that these two both shared a fascination for how philosophy can clarify and sharpen one’s view. Both knew that Jewish teaching had much to say of value in the world’s conversations and both were unflinchingly confident in their mission – and their ability - to share all they could both with their fellow rabbis, but perhaps more importantly, with the ordinary Jew.
We mourn his loss and urge all readers of this to not let his going pass without note. If you wish to memorialise Rabbi Sacks and mark his passing in a fitting way, read something he’s written. If you do, I’m fairly sure you will want to read more – and that will be his legacy, and the one he would have wanted.
CEO – CJC
8th November 2020
On Wednesday 7 October CJC together with the United Synagogue, JAFI and the Beverly Hills Syngaogue partnered up to produce the world's biggest 'Sukkah Hop'. We took a virtual trip around the world to a host of communities across five continents and explored the unique cultures, Succot customs and traditions of our global Jewish community. Inlcuding special messages from the President of Israel, Issac Herzog - Chair of Jewish Agency for Israel and Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis.
On Tuesday 6th October, CJC held the inaugural meeting of the Inter-Religious Commonwealth Youth Alliance (IRCYA) hosting young people from more than half of all Commonwealth countries and from a variety of religions to work together on a range of issues identified by the young people themselves as pressing and commanding the attention of today's young was utterly inspiring.
We are delighted to share with you the recent Jerusalem Report, featuring an article focusing on our work and our campaign efforts on ‘Small Islands Big Challenges’.
Neville Teller reports on ‘Jews worldwide cooperate to tackle climate change’.
Please find the article on pages 16 and 17 of the Report.
The Commonewealth Jewish Council welcomes FCO Minister Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon to a meeting with our diplomacy advisory group.
Inspiring video message from future head of the Commonwealth, the Prince of Wales about the contribution of religious communities, for Faith in the Commonwealth online panel.
On Monday 29th June, the Commonwealth Jewish Council held a “Faith in the Commonwealth” multi-faith webinar featuring a video message from HRH The Prince of Wales and contributions from religious leaders.