Lord Sacks believes the defining achievement of his time as Chief Rabbi has been an unprecedented transformation in the status and confidence of British Jewry.
“We have strengthened the standing of the Jewish community in the wider society,” he said. It is now “more active, exuberant and self-confident” than ever before.
Lord Sacks, who steps down at the end of this month, said: “You see the signs of that everywhere, from JW3 [London’s new Jewish community centre], to lighting candles in Trafalgar Square, to doing Sefer Torah dedications while dancing through the streets in the suburbs.”
The trebling in the number of Jewish day school places means that “we will have more Jewish grandchildren than might otherwise have been the case”.
Lord Sacks believes that these two achievements, of greater Jewish self-confidence and increased Jewish schooling, used to be thought of as contradictory.
“Anyone would have said to you 30 years ago, either do one or the other, you can’t do both simultaneously. But we have done both simultaneously.
“And having done it in Britain, it is my task to go and inspire people to do it elsewhere.”
He believes that the way British Jewry has reinvented itself will serve as an example to the rest of the world: “You don’t see a community change its character that much in the space of a single generation that often.”