Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth to Speak
Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks, chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, United Kingdom, will present a lecture at Sacred Heart University on May 21. The presentation, titled “The Dignity of Difference: How to Avoid the Clash of Civilizations,” is co-sponsored by the Center for Christian-Jewish Understanding (CCJU) and the Anti Defamation League.
The lecture, in celebration of the 15th anniversary of the SHU-based CCJU, will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Edgerton Center for the Performing Arts. It is free and open to the public; complimentary tickets may be reserved by calling 203-371-7908.
Sacks has been chief rabbi since September 1991, and is the sixth incumbent since 1845.
Widely recognized as one of the world’s leading contemporary exponents of Judaism, Britain’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown, said of him in 2003: “The chief rabbi is not just a distinguished scholar but a distinguished spiritual leader and a globally respected ambassador for the Jewish community here in Britain. He is respected in every continent because he has done more than anyone in Britain today to focus our attention on the needs and challenges of community in the global world.”
Prior to becoming chief rabbi, Sacks served as principal of Jews’ College, London, the world’s oldest rabbinical seminary, as well as rabbi of the Golders Green and Marble Arch synagogues in London. He gained rabbinic ordination from Jews’ College as well as from London’s Yeshiva Etz Chaim.
Sacks obtained first-class honors in philosophy while studying at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, and he pursued postgraduate studies at New College, Oxford, and King’s College London. He has served as visiting professor of philosophy at the University of Essex, Sherman lecturer at Manchester University, Riddell lecturer at Newcastle University, Cook lecturer at the Universities of Oxford, Edinburgh and St. Andrews, and visiting professor at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. He is currently visiting professor of theology at Kings’ College London.
He holds honorary doctorates from Bar-Ilan University; University of Cambridge; University of Glasgow; Middlesex University; Haifa University, Israel; University of Liverpool; Yeshiva University, New York; St. Andrews University; and Leeds Metropolitan University, and is an honorary fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, and King’s College, London. In September 2001, the Archbishop of Canterbury conferred upon him a Doctor of Divinity degree in recognition of his first ten years in the Chief Rabbinate.
An author as well, Sacks has penned almost two dozen books, including “The Dignity of Difference” (2002), “To Heal a Fractured World” (2005), “The Authorised Daily Prayer Book” (2006) and “The Home We Build Together” (2007). Six of his books have been serialized in the national British press.
Born in 1948 in London, Sacks has been married to his wife Elaine since 1970. They have three children and three grandchildren.
The Center for Christian-Jewish Understanding, established in 1992, is a worldwide leader in interreligious dialogue and understanding. It has sponsored seminars and public forums for religious leaders and scholars on several continents, and its work has been warmly encouraged by the Vatican.
According to its mission statement, “the CCJU is a direct outgrowth of the Second Vatican Council’s teachings which encourage interreligious dialogue and understanding. The Center draws together clergy, laity, scholars, theologians and educators to focus on current religious thinking within Judaism and Christianity and provides forums for dialogue in order to advance greater knowledge, understanding and harmony between religions.”