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Bar-Ilan hosts int’l confab to honor Jonathan Sacks’s ideas

The university is set to establish an institute perpetuating the legacy of the former chief rabbi of the United Kingdom.

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. Credit: Office of Rabbi Sacks/rabbisacks.org.
Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. Credit: Office of Rabbi Sacks/rabbisacks.org.

The Rabbi Sacks Legacy and Bar-Ilan University hosted a three-day international conference focusing on the views of the late Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks on countering religious extremism and on the responsibility of Israel and the Jewish nation in the modern age.

The event took place on Bar-Ilan University’s campus in Ramat Gan from January 17 to 19. More than 150 people attended the opening sessions.

Other sessions focused on Sacks’s messages on the ethics of responsibility, Orthodoxy in modernity, religious leadership and his vision for Israel and the Jewish people.

“We are extremely thankful to Bar-Ilan University for hosting an extraordinary event dedicated to not only discussing and learning the Torah and philosophy Rabbi Sacks shared during his lifetime but also its continued relevance in today’s society,” said Rabbi Sacks Legacy Chief Executive Joanna Benarroch.

Featured speakers included Lady Elaine Sacks, Rabbi Sacks’ younger brother Eliot and niece Jessica, who were joined by leading academics from Israel, the United States, the United Kingdom and elsewhere.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog addressed attendees via recorded video.

Bar-Ilan University is set to establish an institute honoring and perpetuating the legacy of the former chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth.

The Jonathan Sacks Institute of Bar-Ilan University will have two core objectives. First, to ensure that Sacks’s ideas receive the attention and recognition that they deserve within academia, through programs and research, especially as they relate to contemporary moral, social and political challenges. In addition, the institute will develop a diverse network of alumni with leadership potential who can make a practical impact on the future of Israeli, Jewish and world society, inspired and guided by Sacks’s vision.

“Bar-Ilan University has a unique connection with Rabbi Sacks. He was a member of our Board and a recipient of an honorary doctorate from the university, and at Bar-Ilan we strive to fully reflect his messages and values on our campus,” said the university’s President Prof. Arie Zaban.

“We are committed to protecting and nurturing the universal values of political liberty, social responsibility and reasoned debate, while simultaneously preserving and appreciating the particularism of Jewish identity. Thus, we are proud to establish the Jonathan Sacks Institute, which will be housed in our political studies department, in order to ensure the multifaceted nature of Rabbi Sacks’s legacy, not only as a Jewish leader but also as a philosopher who speaks to the most vital social, political and moral issues of our time,” he added.

Sacks died on Nov. 7, 2020.

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