Chief Rabbi given life peerage

By James Martin and Jessica Elgot, July 13, 2009
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Tributes have flowed in from all sections of the community at the elevation of the Chief Rabbi, Sir Jonathan Sacks, to the peerage.

The House of Lords Appointments Commission announced that he is to be a life peer and will sit as a cross-bencher.

Vivian Wineman, president of the Board of Deputies, said: “I send warm congratulations to the Chief Rabbi on this richly deserved honour.

"This is an honour for the community as a whole as well as a reflection of the Chief’s extraordinary talents. A towering figure both inside and outside the community, the Chief Rabbi is a role model in pure decency, offering unique intellectual insights and moral clarity as a great communicator.”

Sir Jonathan said: “I am honoured by this appointment. I am proud to be following in the footsteps of my predecessor, Lord Jakobovits, who served in the House of Lords. I will be combining both my rabbinical responsibilities and the opportunities that membership of the House of Lords offer me to speak on issues that matter.

"The cross-benches of the House of Lords have a significance in providing objective, independent, considered thought to debate. The moral and faith voice needs to be heard in our national conversation and I look forward to taking part in ensuring that voice is heard."

The Chief Rabbi’s Office was keen to make clear that the appointment was made by the Lords Appointment Commission, an advisory body set up by the Prime Minister to make recommendations for non-party-political peerages, rather than by Gordon Brown, to whom the Chief Rabbi is particularly close.

Priase and congratulations for the Chief Rabbi have come from across the community.

Leading Jewish peer Lord Janner said: "I am absolutely delighted that the Chief Rabbi has received a peerage, which he totally deserves. I am sure that, like his predecessor Lord Jakobovits, he will make a great and unique contribution to the House of Lords."

Israeli ambassador to the UK, Ron Prosor said:

"Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks is a source of inspiration for Jews and non-Jews alike. He is a man of wisdom, great values and chesed(kindness). This is an honour for the entire Jewish people. It reflects the warmly shared values of our communities, the essence of a great friendship between Britain and Israel.

He added: “I hope that Sir Jonathan will be just as comfortable giving his blessing to legislation in the House of Lords as he is when bringing people together in the Lord’s House”

Andrew Balcombe, chairman of the Zionist Federation, said: "The ZF is absolutely delighted that one of our patrons, who is a real Zionist leader, has received this honour"

Sir Sigmund Sternberg, of the International Council of Christians and Jews said: "We congratulate Sir Jonathan Sacks on this recognition of his national and international reputation as a spokesman for morality and justice and celebrate the fact that he will take his rightful place among the lords spiritual and temporal of Great Britain."

Simon Morris, Jewish Care's chief executive, said: “I’m delighted to hear the Chief Rabbi has been recommended to be a life peer. It validates the excellent work the Chief Rabbi has done to foster good relations with inter-faith communities.”

Loraine Warren, chairman of Wizo UK, said: “The ennoblement of the Chief Rabbi recognises the contribution of the Jewish community in British society and will enable him to effectively represent us in an increasingly multicultural and multi faith society”

Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, senior rabbi of the Assembly of Masorti Synagogues said: “The Assembly of Masorti Synagogues offer warm congratulations. This is a richly deserved honour in recognition of his scholarship and widely admired ambassadorial role on behalf of British Jewry to the wider community.”

Daniel Burger, executive director of Jewish Child's Day said: "We are delighted that our long-standing honorary president has been rewarded with a peerage. It is a richly deserved honour for a man who has done so much for the Jewish community on a number of different levels."

Last updated: 11:23am, July 15 2009