With the commemoration of the first yahrzeit of Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, who served as chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of Great Britain and the Commonwealth, Yeshiva University announced the creation of the Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks Center for Values and Leadership, founded by Terri and Andrew Herenstein.

The new center will be dedicated to the dissemination of the rabbi’s leadership lessons and values in classrooms, communities and through public discussion.

It will also be geared to educate students, communal leaders, teachers, executives and authors using the timeless teachings of Judaism, embodying core Torah values and applying Jewish wisdom in addressing the challenges of modern times, both within the community and beyond.

“Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks uniquely exemplified and articulated Yeshiva University’s worldview and mission to the broader Jewish people and the world at large,” said Ari Berman, president of the university. “While his loss left us bereft, his words and teachings continue to inspire and inform. This new center, powered by his teachings, will be dedicated to both transmitting values and educating next generations’ leaders.”

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. Credit: Office of Rabbi Sacks (rabbisacks.org/about-us/).

Sacks died on Nov. 7, 2020, at age 72 after being diagnosed with cancer.

“We are excited to partner in this deeply impactful project,” said Terri Herenstein. “Through his words and life lessons, Rabbi Sacks has been a guiding light for our entire family. A number of years ago, we were fortunate to host Rabbi Sacks and Lady Elaine for Shabbat, and his Torah continues to illuminate our Shabbat table and spiritual lives to this day.”

Andrew Herenstein added that “when Dr. Berman mentioned the possibility of creating a lasting legacy to Rabbi Sacks at YU, a lightning bolt struck. The opportunity to combine the flagship Jewish university with one of the preeminent theological minds of our generation was exhilarating. Both YU and Rabbi Sacks’ writings are powered by the same principles: that Jewish values matter and that creating a meaningful Jewish future is dependent on stewarding the next generation of Jewish leaders intellectually, morally and spiritually.”

Sacks championed the importance of Yeshiva University and its students for the future of the Jewish people.

At a YU convocation in 1997, he stated: “I believe today the Jewish people are suffering from a lesion which has broken the connection between the left and right hemispheres of the Jewish people. And there is only one group of people who can help to heal that fracture, and that is you—the graduates of Yeshiva University—because you, almost alone in today’s Jewish world, have learned to combine Torah and chochma [‘wisdom’] to integrate Yeshiva and University.”

The rabbi was awarded an honorary doctorate in 1997, the inaugural Lamm Prize in 2010 and was appointed the Kressel and Ephrat Family University Professor of Jewish Thought at Yeshiva University in 2013. Sacks also regularly addressed the student body, most recently at YU’s Commencement in 2020.

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