Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, the former Chief Rabbi, has died at the age of 72. He had been diagnosed with cancer last month, having been treated twice previously.
Tributes have poured in from across Britain and around the world.
CFI Honorary President Lord Polak CBE and CFI Parliamentary Chairmen Rt. Hon. Stephen Crabb MP and Rt. Hon. The Lord Pickles said: “The Jewish community throughout the world joined by many, many friends are mourning the loss of and extraordinary man and leader, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. He was an inspiration to us all. Our thoughts are with Elaine and the family. May his memory be a blessing”.
Opening Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that Rabbi Sacks’ “leadership had a profound impact on our whole country and across the world. May his memory be a blessing”.
His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, who was guest of honour at the tribute dinner when Lord Sacks retired as Chief Rabbi, expressed his “profound sorrow”. He underlined: “With his passing, the Jewish community, our nation, and the entire world have lost a leader whose wisdom, scholarship and humanity were without equal… He will be missed more than words can say”.
Writing in the Jewish News, HRH Prince Charles said: “I, for one, have lost a true and steadfast friend”. He wrote: “In his seventy two years, Rabbi Sacks, it seems to me, studied, wrote and shared wisdom enough for many lifetimes. Listen to his sermons, read his books, and you cannot fail to be struck by the urgency with which he spoke: rich with learning, rooted in humility, charged with passion. It is unmistakably a voice in the tradition of the greatest teachers among the Jewish people”.
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said the world had “lost a Torah luminary and intellectual giant who had a transformative global impact”.
Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin said: “Rabbi Sacks bravely faced difficult questions and always found the right words to illuminate the Torah and explain its paths. We will always remember his warnings against violence in the name of God, and his belief that we have the power to heal a fractured world”.
Conservative Candidate for Mayor of London Shaun Bailey AM said: “No one who met Rabbi Sacks could doubt his kindness, wisdom and generosity. A loss not just to the Jewish community but to every community”.
In 2016, Lord Rabbi Sacks was awarded the Templeton Prize in recognition of his “exceptional contributions to affirming life’s spiritual dimension.” He had been described by the Prince of Wales as “a light unto this nation” and by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair as “an intellectual giant”.
Rabbi Lord Sacks was Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth for 22 years, between 1991 and 2013 and was the author of over 30 books. His most recent, Morality: Restoring the Common Good in Divided Times, was published this year.
Rabbi Sacks was knighted in 2005 and made a Life Peer in 2009.