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Late UK Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks Honored With Genesis Award, Remembered as ‘Global Ambassador for the Jewish People’

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Lady Elaine Sacks, former UK PM Theresa May, Genesis Prize Foundation Co-Founder and Chairman Stan Polovets, and President of Israel Isaac Herzog at the presentation of the Genesis Lifetime Achievement Award to the late Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. Photo: Thomas Alexander/Genesis Prize Foundation

The Genesis Prize Foundation on Monday posthumously awarded its Lifetime Achievement Award to the late chief rabbi of the United Kingdom, Lord Jonathan Sacks.

Sacks served as head rabbi amid a long struggle against antisemitism in the Labour Party and a rise in anti-Jewish incidents in Britain and Europe. Following his passing in November 2020, he was widely mourned for his eloquence, moderation, and strong belief in social justice and interfaith solidarity.

The award is intended to recognize Sacks’ role as a teacher, activist for ecumenical dialogue, and inspiration for the young generation of Jews, the Foundation said.

It was presented to the late chief rabbi’s widow, Lady Elaine Sacks, at a ceremony attended by Israeli President Isaac Herzog, former British Prime Minister Theresa May, current UK Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, and famed Soviet refusenik Natan Sharansky, among others.

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“Rabbi Sacks became a masterful articulator of the Jewish foundation of universal values, while unapologetically verbalizing a proud, dignified Jewish identity,” Herzog commented at the event.

“His innate, God-given power of expression gave voice to the contribution of Judaism and the State of Israel to humanity at large,” Herzog said. “He reached across the aisle and across different religions. He brought the Torah down from the heavens to the smartphone generation. This is Rabbi Sacks’ legacy.”

Britain’s Prince Charles also spoke via video message, and called Sacks “an eloquent and moral presence in our lives.”

“He was a global ambassador par excellence for the Jewish people and moral values,” Charles added. “He personified and lived, as he described, ‘a Judaism engaged with the world.’”

Stan Polovets, co-founder and chairman of the Genesis Prize Foundation, lauded Rabbi Sacks and his teachings for serving “as a guiding light to millions,” and described the Lifetime Achievement Award as “a declaration of profound gratitude from the global Jewish community, and an expression of our common desire to keep this light shining for future generations.”

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