08 November 2020 02:30
Former UK chief rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks died Saturday morning, his official Twitter account announced. Sacks, 72, revealed last month that he had been diagnosed with cancer. Sacks served as chief rabbi of the British Commonwealth from 1991 until 2013 and was among the most prominent expositors of Orthodox Judaism in the world, having authored dozens of books addressing contemporary spiritual and moral issues. Get The Times of Israel's Daily Edition by email and never miss our top stories Free Sign Up His most recent book, "Morality: Restoring the Common Good in Divided Times," was published in September. Baruch Dayan Ha'Emet.
It with the deepest sadness that we regret to inform you that Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks (HaRav Ya'akov Zvi ben David Arieh z''l) passed away early this morning, Saturday 7th November 2020 (Shabbat Kodesh 20th MarCheshvan 5781). — Rabbi Sacks (@rabbisacks) November 7, 2020 Sacks' office had not specified what type of cancer he had, saying in October that "he remains positive and upbeat and will now spend a period of time focused on the treatment he is receiving from his excellent medical team," the statement said. Related interview — Lord Sacks wonders: Why have the Jews 'forgotten what we're all about'? Sacks had been treated for cancer twice before, in his 30s and again in his 50s, a fact that wasn't widely known until it was disclosed in a 2012 book. Sacks taught at Yeshiva University and New York University as well as at King's College London and several other top schools. He was a Senior Fellow at Canada's Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights. Sacks, who was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2005 and awarded a Life Peerage in the British House of Lords in 2009, was an outspoken advocate of religious and social tolerance throughout his career. He was also an advocate for the compatibility of science and religion, which some people see as mutually exclusive. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin mourned Sacks's passing, who he called "a man of words… and of creativity, a man of truth, whose generosity and compassion built bridges between people." He said 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." Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said Sacks was "a giant of both the Jewish community and wider society. His astounding intellect and courageous moral voice were a blessing to all who encountered him in person, in writing or in broadcast." Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis, also called Sacks "a giant of world Jewry" who "will be truly missed." British Labor party leader Keir Starmer said Sacks was "a towering intellect whose eloquence, insights and kindness reached well beyond the Jewish community. I have no doubt that his legacy will live on for many generations." Israel's chief rabbis also eulogized Sacks. Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef said: "The people of Israel have lost a unique voice that will be sorely missed." Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau said Sacks was "a man of spirit who championed the word of Torah-keeping Judaism and was a staunch guardian of tradition from generation to generation." World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder said the WJC "and the entire Jewish world are profoundly saddened by the passing of former British Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks," who he called "a theologian of extraordinary intellectual depth and moral conviction. "He was also a pillar of integrity who inspired Jews and non-Jews alike… We extend our deepest condolences to Lord Sacks's wife Elaine and their family."