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    “Though he seldom mentions it, Sacks battled cancer twice, once in his 30s, and later in his 50s. Yet unlike many other rabbis and scholars of religion, from Rabbi David Wolpe to James Kugel, who incorporated their bouts with cancer into their theological reflections, Sacks makes no reference to it in his voluminous output. I asked why. “It’s very simple,” he said. “I saw my late father in his 80s go through four, five major operations. This was not cancer, it was hip replacements and those things. And when you have operations in your 80s, they sap your strength. He got weaker and weaker as the decade passed. He was walking on crutches at my induction—he was alive for my induction, and that was very important to me.” “Now, my late father, alav ha-shalom, didn’t have much Jewish education, but he had enormous emunah [faith],” Sacks continued. “I used to watch him saying Tehillim in the hospital, and I could see him getting stronger. It seemed to me that his mental attitude was ‘I’m leaving this to Hashem. If he sees that it’s time for me to go, then it’s time for me to go. And if he still needs me to do things here, he’ll look after me.’” “And I adopted exactly that attitude. So on both occasions I felt, if this is the time Hashem needs me up there, thank you very much indeed for my time down here; I’ve enjoyed every day and feel very blessed. And if he wants me to stay and there’s still work for me to do, then he is going to be part of the refu’ah [healing] and I put my trust in him. So there was no test of faith at any point—just these simple moments at which to say, ‘b’yado afkid ruchi’ [‘In his hand, I place my soul’]. That was my thought. And since we say that every day in Adon Olam, I didn’t feel the need to write a book about it. It was for me not a theological dilemma at all.” “I had faith,” said Sacks, “full stop.”


    Former British Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks succumbed to cancer on Shabbos at the age of 72. Sacks had two previous bouts with cancer in his 30s and 50s and recently requested that people daven for him as he underwent treatment for the disease again. Rabbi Sacks was a world-renowned scholar, teacher and leader who enlightened and inspired, influenced and empowered, world Jewry, global leaders and communities throughout the world. Born March 8, 1948, in Lambeth, London, Rabbi Sacks served as the chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth in Britain from 1991 to 2013. After stepping down as chief rabbi, in addition to his international travelling and speaking engagements and prolific writing, Rabbi Sacks served as the Ingeborg and Ira Rennert Global Distinguished Professor of Judaic Thought at New York University and as the Kressel and Ephrat Family University Professor of Jewish Thought at Yeshiva University. He was also appointed as Professor of Law, Ethics and the Bible at King’s College London. He won the Templeton Prize – awarded for work affirming life’s spiritual dimension – in 2016. He was also a Senior Fellow to the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights. Rabbi Sacks’s first rabbinic appointment from 1978 to 1982 was as the rabbi for the Golders Green synagogue in London. In 1983, he became rabbi of the Western Marble Arch Synagogue in Central London, a position he held until 1990. Between 1984 and 1990, he also served as Principal of Jews’ College. Rabbi Sacks became a Knight Bachelor in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2005 “for services to the Community and to Inter-faith Relations”. He was made an Honorary Freeman of the London Borough of Barnet in September 2006. On July 13, 2009, the House of Lords Appointments Commission announced that Sacks was recommended for a life peerage with a seat in the House of Lords. He took the title “Baron Sacks, of Aldgate in the City of London” and sat as a crossbencher. A visiting professor at several universities in Britain, the United States and Israel, Rabbi Sacks held 16 honorary degrees, including a doctorate of divinity conferred on him in September 2001 by the then Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, to mark his first ten years in office as Chief Rabbi. In recognition of his work, Rabbi Sacks won 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. Rabbi Sacks published commentaries on the Siddur and completed commentaries to the Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Pesach Machzorim as of 2017. His other books include, Not in G-d’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence, and The Great Partnership: G-d, Science and the Search for Meaning. His books 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, and his commentary to the Pesach Machzor won the Modern Jewish Thought and Experience Dorot Foundation Award in the 2013 National Jewish Book Awards in the United States. His Covenant & Conversation commentaries on the weekly Parsha are read by thousands of people in Jewish communities around the world. Rabbi Sacks articles have been appearing in The Jewish Vues the last two years and is one of the most popular articles. In his most recent book, Morality: Restoring the Common Good In Divided Times, published in 2020 , Rabbi Sacks traced today’s social crisis to our loss of a strong, shared moral code and our elevation of self-interest over the common good. He argued that there is no liberty without morality and no freedom without responsibility and stressed that we all must play our part in rebuilding a common moral foundation. The former Chief Rabbi’s official Twitter account published a statement on Motzei Shabbos stating: “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).” Tributes for Rabbi Sacks poured in upon the news of his passing, underlying his widespread leadership and the impact he left. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair, a personal friend of Rabbi Sacks, paid heartfelt tribute, saying: “I am deeply distressed and sad at the news. Jonathan was a wonderful friend, a beloved mentor, a philosopher of extraordinary insight and of course a religious leader respected well beyond the Jewish community and well beyond the shores of Britain. His influence was vast and his reach immense. Former Israeli defense minister and Yamina party leader Naftali Bennett also lamented the passing of the influential rabbi in a statement released to the press. “Today the Jewish world – and the whole world – lost a great light. Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks will be remembered and always celebrated as one of the greatest Jewish thinkers and teachers. My thoughts are with his wife Lady Elaine, and all his family. Baruch Dayan HaEmet.” 

    Rabbi Sacks is survived by his wife, Elaine Taylor Sacks, and children, Joshua, Dina and Gila. Yehi zichro boruch.