Prince Charles pays tribute to the 'irreplaceable' Rabbi Sacks at digital memorial

'I shall miss him more than words can say,' the Prince of Wales says


The Prince of Wales eulogised his friend Lord Sacks as “a light unto the nations” at a digital memorial on Sunday evening to mark the end of the 30-day period of mourning.

Leading figures from the worlds of religion, politics, academia and the media recalled the inspirational impact of the Emeritus Chief Rabbi, who died last month aged 72.

Prince Charles, who said they had been both born in the same year as the founding of the state of Israel in 1948, said he had come to “value his counsel immensely. He was a trusted guide, an inspired teacher and a true and steadfast friend. I shall miss him more than words can say.”

The prince said “his sudden and unexpected death is an irreplaceable loss to the Jewish community, to this nation and to the world – but most of all to his family, to whom he was utterly devoted.”

Through his writings, sermons and broadcasts, “Rabbi Sacks touched the lives of countless people with his unfailing wisdom, with his profound sanity and with a moral conviction which, in a confused and confusing world, was all too rare.”

At the dinner to honour Lord Sacks on his retirement as Chief Rabbi, the prince recalled “I said – deliberately misquoting Isaiah – that he was ‘a light unto this nation’ and said I hoped he would keep that light burning for many years to come.

 “That was only seven years ago. But, in the years that he was given to us, how brightly that light burned, how many lives were brightened, how many dark places were illuminated. He was, truly, or lagoyim, a light unto the nations”.

Rabbi Sacks had left “the world transformed by his presence. In his sermons, his broadcasts and his books, he spoke with urgency - rich with learning, rooted in humility, charged with passion. His was unmistakably a voice in the tradition of the greatest teachers among the Jewish people.”

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair said they had often discussed the Bible and Rabbi Sacks had given meaning to familiar stories.

“He taught me how the wretched weakness of humanity is so clear when absent from God. And when united with God, that extraordinary potential for human achievement.

“So he ended up, in part, giving me a sense of my own religious tradition and an understanding of other religious traditions.

“But most of all, he gave me a feeling of why it was important to have faith and how faith was central to human progress.

“So we know he's been taken from us far, far, too young. But when I think of all the things that he taught me, and when I think of the difference he made to my life and to the lives of so, so many others, it's an extraordinary legacy and a wonderful example to those of us who remain.”

Another former Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, recalled, “When earlier this year, he published his most recent book, Morality, I wrote to Jonathan saying I was nominating it as the book of the year.

“But every year, for nearly 30 years, Jonathan was writing books of the year.

“His 1997 book, Politics of Hope, changed the face of Britain by reminding us what too many had forgotten, that there was a space between state and markets occupied by communities, and that we had responsibilities to discharge as well as rights to claim. He set the tone for a revitalisation of our civic life.”

Lord Winston, who hosted the tribute, said, “he was a moral voice to the world, to peoples of different faith or of none”.

Other tributes came from Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, former Israeli Chief Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Lau, former Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, Israeli president Reuven Rivlin and broadcaster Emily Maitlis among others.

Rabbi Sacks’s widow Elaine said she had just received a letter from the Royal Palace of Amman which said Rabbi Sacks had “radiated a deep and all-encompassing love for humanity, for all its foibles, while demanding, sometimes quite stern, the very best from each and every one of us”.

She said,” I want to walk up the stairs to his study and see him sitting there writing away. 'Listen,' I will say. 'Look what is happening. Look how many people have learned from you, revere you, love you. They are writing such moving things about you. Look what you have achieved.'

“He will look up at me deeply and nod and say, 'There is still so much to do, and he will get straight back to work.’”

The memorial, which also included extracts from some of his talks, can be viewed here.








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