President Isaac Herzog participated on Monday evening in a special Genesis Prize Foundation event paying tribute to the late Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks and celebrating his legacy, one year after his death.
At the event in London, the President awarded the Genesis Lifetime Achievement Award posthumously to the late Rabbi Sacks, presenting it to his widow, Lady Elaine Sacks. The award recognizes Rabbi Sacks for his extraordinary role in inspiring the next generation of Jews, and his illustrious life-long work as a teacher of Jewish values and an advocate of inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue.
President Isaac Herzog began by saying that he reads Rabbi Sacks’ commentary on the weekly Torah portion every Shabbat and paid tribute to him.
“Rabbi Sacks became a masterful articulator of the Jewish foundation of universal values, while unapologetically verbalizing a proud, dignified Jewish identity. His innate, God-given power of expression gave voice to the contribution of Judaism and the State of Israel to humanity at large,” he said.
President Herzog added that on a personal note, Rabbi Sacks reminded him of his own grandfather, Rabbi Isaac HaLevi Herzog.
“Like my grandfather, Rabbi Sacks was a traditional inclusivist—fearlessly loyal to Orthodox Judaism, while finding the halachic strategy to include everyone,” he said, adding, “Their very being stemmed from the unique characteristics of British Judaism—moderate, receptive, inclusive, adaptive yiddishkeit.”
President Herzog concluded, “Rabbi Sacks represented the history, the moral code, and the spirit of Judaism with dignity and adoration. He valiantly advocated for the State of Israel. 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. Each of us can step up, light our own flame, and lead, in ancient days and in our times.”
Rabbi Sacks is the tenth Genesis honoree, and only the second recipient of the Genesis Lifetime Achievement Award.
Rabbi Sacks served as the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth between 1991 and 2013. He gained global renown as a scholar, ambassador of Judaism and Jewish values, theologian, philosopher, prolific author, and proponent of interfaith dialogue. The Genesis Prize is a global award that honors extraordinary individuals for their outstanding professional achievement, contribution to humanity, and commitment to Jewish values.
Also attending the event were more than 150 distinguished leaders of the UK and international Jewry and friends of the Jewish community, including former British Prime Minister Theresa May, the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth Ephraim Mirvis, Israel’s Ambassador to the UK Tzipi Hotovely, UK Ambassador to Israel Neil Wigan, and Ronit Ben-Dor, Chargée d’affaires of Israel’s Embassy in France. Two Genesis Prize Laureates, Sir Anish Kapoor (2017) and Natan Sharansky (2020) were in attendance, along with two finalists for the 2022 Genesis Prize, Pfizer Chairman and CEO Albert Burla and legendary Nazi hunter Serge Klarsfeld.