Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks Spoke to People of All Faiths
The world continues to remember Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, the former chief rabbi of England, who passed away last week at the age of 72.
Rabbi Sacks was an admired figure in the Jewish community in Hendon, where I lived in my early twenties. Sacks impacted the London suburbs and the United Kingdom as a teacher of Judaism who influenced people of all faiths.
Rabbi Sacks wrote over 24 books. Most of the messages in these books contain universal moral principles that extend beyond Orthodox Judaism. His last book, Morality: Restoring the Common Good in Divided Times, published earlier this year, provides a roadmap to living ethically in the 21st century.
In Morality, Sacks wrote: “Fight injustice, whoever it is done by and whoever it is done against. And do these things because, being human, we are bound by a covenant of human solidarity, whatever our color or culture, class or creed. These are moral principles, not economic or political ones.”
In 2005, Sacks was knighted, and in 2016, he was awarded the Templeton Prize, for “bringing spiritual insight to the public conversation through mass media.”
Rabbi Sacks always advocated positivity, morality, and fairness in his lectures to Jews and non-Jews. “The only way to respond to anti-Semitism is to monitor it, fight it, but never let it affect our idea of who we are,” Sacks wrote. “Pride is always a healthier response than shame.”
When I created a television show to engage young children with the Hebrew language called My Hebrew Land, I was inspired by Rabbi Sacks’ vision. I wanted to share Hebrew and Israeli culture with people of all faiths. So I cast child actors of all ethnicities to demonstrate that Hebrew could be a universal language for everyone to enjoy and share.
May Hashem comfort his dear wife Elaine and his family, and bless them with a long life. His legacy will outlive all of us.
Ayelet Raymond is a film and musical director who lives in New York City. She collaborated with young Broadway performers to create the American children’s television show My Hebrew Land. She is the creative force behind the Kosher Barbie character and social media personality.