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About Jonathan Sacks
An international religious leader, philosopher, award-winning author and respected moral voice, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks was awarded the 2016 Templeton Prize in recognition of his "exceptional contributions to affirming life's spiritual dimension." Described by H.R.H. The Prince of Wales as "a light unto this nation" and by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair as "an intellectual giant", Rabbi Sacks was a frequent and sought-after contributor to radio, television and the press both in Britain and around the world.
Since stepping down as the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth - a position he served for 22 years between 1991 and 2013 - Rabbi Sacks held a number of professorships at several academic institutions including Yeshiva University, New York University and King's College London. Rabbi Sacks was awarded 18 honorary doctorates including a Doctor of Divinity conferred to mark his first ten years in office as Chief Rabbi, by the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey.
Rabbi Sacks authored over 35 books. His most recent work, Morality: Restoring the Common Good in Divided Times (2020), was a top ten Sunday Times bestseller and was published in North America on 1st September 2020 and was named as the 2020 'Book of the Year' by the National Jewish Book Council. Other works include: Not in God's Name: Confronting Religious Violence; The Great Partnership: God, Science and the Search for Meaning; The Dignity of Difference: How to Avoid the Clash of Civilizations (winner of the Grawemeyer Prize for Religion in 2004 for its success in defining a framework for interfaith dialogue between people of all faith and of none); To Heal a Fractured World: The Ethics of Responsibility; and A Letter in the Scroll: On Being Jewish, winner of a National Jewish Book Awards in 2000.
In recognition of his work, Rabbi Sacks received, among others, the Jerusalem Prize in 1995 for his contribution to diaspora Jewish life, The Ladislaus Laszt Ecumenical and Social Concern Award from Ben Gurion University in Israel in 2011, The Guardian of Zion Award from the Ingeborg Rennert Center for Jerusalem Studies at Bar-Ilan University in 2014, and The Katz Award in recognition of his contribution to the practical analysis and application of Halacha in modern life in Israel in 2014. He was named as The Becket Fund's 2014 Canterbury Medalist for his role in the defence of religious liberty in the public square; won a Bradley Prize in 2016 in recognition of being "a leading moral voice in today's world"; and in 2017, he was awarded the Irving Kristol Award from the American Enterprise Institute for his "remarkable contributions to philosophy, religion, and interfaith discourse... as one of the world's greatest living public intellectuals." In 2018, he was given the Lifetime Achievement Award by The London Jewish News in recognition of his services to the Jewish world and wider society.
Rabbi Sacks was knighted by Her Majesty The Queen in 2005 and made a Life Peer, taking his seat in the House of Lords in October 2009. Born in 1948 in London, he married Elaine in 1970. Together they raised three children.
Rabbi Sacks passed away on 7th November 2020, aged 72. He leaves behind a legacy as one of the greatest Jewish thinkers of the 20th century, one who bridged the religious and secular world through his remarkable and ground-breaking canon of work.
Tradition in an Untraditional Age (1990)
Persistence of Faith (1991)
Arguments for the Sake of Heaven (1991)
Crisis and Covenant (1992)
One People? (1993)
Will We Have Jewish Grandchildren? (1994)
Community of Faith (1995)
Faith in the Future (1998)
The Politics of Hope (1997)
Morals and Markets (1999)
Celebrating Life (2000)
Radical Then, Radical Now (2001)
The Dignity of Difference (2002)
The Chief Rabbi's Haggadah (2003)
From Optimism to Hope (2004)
To Heal a Fractured World (2005)
The Authorised Daily Prayer Book: new translation and commentary (2006)
The Home We Build Together (2007)
Future Tense (2009)
Covenant and Conversation; Exodus (2010)
The Koren Sacks Rosh Hashana Mahzor (2011)
The Great Partnership: God Science and the Search for Meaning (2011; 2012)
The Koren Sacks Yom Kippur Mahzor (2012)
The Koren Sacks Pesach Mahzor (2013)
Not in God's Name: Confronting Religious Violence (2015)
Covenant and Conversation; Leviticus (2015)
Lessons in Leadership: A Weekly Reading of the Jewish Bible (2015)
The Koren Sacks Shavuot Mahzor (2016)
The Koren Sacks Sukkot Mahzor (2016)
Essays in Ethics: A Weekly Reading of the Jewish Bible (2016)
Covenant and Conversation; Numbers (2017)
Ceremony & Celebration (2017)
Covenant and Conversation; Deuteronomy (2019)
Morality: Restoring the Common Good in Divided Time (2020)
Judaism's Life Changing Ideas (2020)
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With liberal democracy embattled, public discourse grown toxic, family life breaking down, and drug abuse and depression on the rise, many fear what the future holds.
In Morality, respected faith leader and public intellectual Jonathan Sacks traces today's crisis to our loss of a strong, shared moral code and our elevation of self-interest over the common good. We have outsourced morality to the market and the state, but neither is capable of showing us how to live. Sacks leads readers from ancient Greece to the Enlightenment to the present day to show that there is no liberty without morality and no freedom without responsibility, arguing that we all must play our part in rebuilding a common moral foundation.
A major work of moral philosophy, Morality is an inspiring vision of a world in which we can all find our place and face the future without fear.
***National Jewish Book Awards 2012, Finalist***
Dorot Foundation Award for Modern Jewish Thought and Experience
An impassioned, erudite, thoroughly researched, and beautifully reasoned book from one of the most admired religious thinkers of our time that argues not only that science and religion are compatible, but that they complement each other—and that the world needs both.
“Atheism deserves better than the new atheists,” states Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, “whose methodology consists of criticizing religion without understanding it, quoting texts without contexts, taking exceptions as the rule, confusing folk belief with reflective theology, abusing, mocking, ridiculing, caricaturing, and demonizing religious faith and holding it responsible for the great crimes against humanity. Religion has done harm; I acknowledge that. But the cure for bad religion is good religion, not no religion, just as the cure for bad science is good science, not the abandonment of science.”
Rabbi Sacks’s counterargument is that religion and science are the two essential perspectives that allow us to see the universe in its three-dimensional depth. Science teaches us where we come from. Religion explains to us why we are here. Science is the search for explanation. Religion is the search for meaning. We need scientific explanation to understand nature. We need meaning to understand human behavior. There have been times when religion tried to dominate science. And there have been times, including our own, when it is believed that we can learn all we need to know about meaning and relationships through biochemistry, neuroscience, and evolutionary psychology. In this fascinating look at the interdependence of religion and science, Rabbi Sacks explains why both views are tragically wrong.
Written originally as a wedding gift to his son and daughter-in-law, A Letter in the Scroll is Rabbi Sacks's personal answer to that question, a testimony to the enduring strength of his religion. Tracing the revolutionary series of philosophical and theological ideas that Judaism created -- from covenant to sabbath to formal education -- and showing us how they remain compellingly relevant in our time, Sacks portrays Jewish identity as an honor as well as a duty.
The Ba'al Shem Tov, an eighteenth-century rabbi and founder of the Hasidic movement, famously noted that the Jewish people are like a living Torah scroll, and every individual Jew is a letter within it. If a single letter is damaged or missing or incorrectly drawn, a Torah scroll is considered invalid. So too, in Judaism, each individual is considered a crucial part of the people, without whom the entire religion would suffer. Rabbi Sacks uses this metaphor to make a passionate argument in favor of affiliation and practice in our secular times, and invites us to engage in our dynamic and inclusive tradition. Never has a book more eloquently expressed the joys of being a Jew.
This is the story of one man's hope for the future -- a future in which the next generation, his children and ours, will happily embrace the beauty of the world's oldest religion.
Essays on Ethics is the second companion volume to Rabbi Jonathan Sacks's celebrated series Covenant & Conversation. Believing the Hebrew Bible to be the ultimate blueprint for Western morality, Rabbi Sacks embarks upon an ethical exploration of the weekly Torah portion, uncovering its message of truth and justice, dignity and compassion, forgiveness and love. "
What are our duties to others, to society, and to humanity? How do we live a meaningful life in an age of global uncertainty and instability? In To Heal a Fractured World, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks offers answers to these questions by looking at the ethics of responsibility. In his signature plainspoken, accessible style, Rabbi Sacks shares with us traditional interpretations of the Bible, Jewish law, and theology, as well as the works of philosophers and ethicists from other cultures, to examine what constitutes morality and moral behavior. “We are here to make a difference,” he writes, “a day at a time, an act at a time, for as long as it takes to make the world a place of justice and compassion.” He argues that in today’s religious and political climate, it is more important than ever to return to the essential understanding that “it is by our deeds that we express our faith and make it real in the lives of others and the world.”
To Heal a Fractured World—inspirational and instructive, timely and timeless—will resonate with people of all faiths.
and eternity, which frames Jewish consciousness. In this second volume of a five-volume collection of parashat hashavua commentaries, Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks explores these intersections as they relate to universal concerns of freedom, love, responsibility, identity, and destiny. Chief Rabbi Sacks fuses Jewish tradition, Western philosophy, and literature to present a highly developed understanding of the human condition under God’s sovereignty. Erudite and eloquent, Covenant & Conversation allows us to experience Chief Rabbi Sacks’ sophisticated approach to life lived in an ongoing dialogue with the Torah.
In this powerful and timely book, one of the most admired and authoritative religious leaders of our time tackles the phenomenon of religious extremism and violence committed in the name of God. If religion is perceived as being part of the problem, Rabbi Sacks argues, then it must also form part of the solution. When religion becomes a zero-sum conceit—that is, my religion is the only right path to God, therefore your religion is by definition wrong—and individuals are motivated by what Rabbi Sacks calls “altruistic evil,” violence between peoples of different beliefs appears to be the only natural outcome.
But through an exploration of the roots of violence and its relationship to religion, and employing groundbreaking biblical analysis and interpretation, Rabbi Sacks shows that religiously inspired violence has as its source misreadings of biblical texts at the heart of all three Abrahamic faiths. By looking anew at the book of Genesis, with its foundational stories of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, Rabbi Sacks offers a radical rereading of many of the Bible’s seminal stories of sibling rivalry: Cain and Abel, Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau, Joseph and his brothers, Rachel and Leah.
“Abraham himself,” writes Rabbi Sacks, “sought to be a blessing to others regardless of their faith. That idea, ignored for many of the intervening centuries, remains the simplest definition of Abrahamic faith. It is not our task to conquer or convert the world or enforce uniformity of belief. It is our task to be a blessing to the world. The use of religion for political ends is not righteousness but idolatry . . . To invoke God to justify violence against the innocent is not an act of sanctity but of sacrilege.” Here is an eloquent call for people of goodwill from all faiths and none to stand together, confront the religious extremism that threatens to destroy us, and declare: Not in God’s Name.
Bringing together Rabbi Sacks’s acclaimed introductions to the Koren Sacks Mahzorim, Ceremony & Celebration reveals the stunning interplay of biblical laws, rabbinic edicts, liturgical themes, communal rituals and profound religious meaning of each of the five central Jewish holidays.