An appreciation of Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks ז״צל
Founding Life President of University Jewish Chaplaincy
The exact circumstances of University Jewish Chaplaincy’s creation are not entirely certain, but there is no doubt that Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, ז״צל, was responsible for our inception. In the late 1960s, while still a student himself, Rabbi Sacks – with the perspicacity and foresight that later characterised his stellar career – met with Chief Rabbi Dr Immanuel Jakobovits. They discussed the pressing need to care for Jewish students at universities across the UK and shared their concerns about Jewish continuity and the impact of missionary activities. Keen to capitalise on the post-’67 enthusiasm for Jewish life and Israel-positivity, Rabbi Sacks knew that the battle to keep a new generation of Jews connected to their heritage would be fought most keenly at universities. He knew that highly-skilled professionals teaching and role-modelling genuine Torah Judaism with a non-judgemental and inclusive approach would be required; this was the inception of University Jewish Chaplaincy.
Rabbi Sacks’ profound interest and care for the Jewish student world continued for the rest of his life: through his early years in the rabbinate, his many years as chief rabbi and subsequently as the universally-recognised global ambassador of Judaism. University Jewish Chaplaincy remained close to his heart. We consulted closely with him about our direction and challenges and we were blessed that, although he relinquished hundreds of patronages when he retired as chief rabbi in 2013, Rabbi Sacks agreed to become our Life President, a role we created for him. Rabbi Sacks never failed to make room for us in his busy schedule and despite his huge workload, was there when we needed his support and encouragement and inspired our growth and development.
The Jewish people have lost one of its extraordinary leaders. Judaism has lost its ultimate champion, University Jewish Chaplaincy our founder. Our thoughts and prayers are with Lady Sacks and her family, yet we take comfort in the enormous impact that his vision has had on hundreds of thousands of Jewish students over three generations.
יהי זכרו ברוך
Rabbi Dr Harvey Belovski, Chief Strategist and Rabbinic Head
Uri Goldberg, Chairman