LONDON – Britain’s chief rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks, will retire in a little less than three years from the position he has held for over two decades, it was announced this week.

At a meeting of the United Synagogue Council on Monday, Dr Simon Hochhauser, president of the United Synagogue and president of the Chief Rabbinate Trust, confirmed that the chief rabbi would retire in September 2013.

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Hochhauser paid tribute to the leadership of the chief rabbi.

He said that the Chief Rabbinate Trust would hold a number of consultation meetings, primarily within the United Hebrew Congregations – the largest synagogue organization in Europe, and would determine the process of succession by this summer.

“I am determined in the next three years to accelerate my efforts to help shape the direction and the future of our community,” Sacks, 62, said on Tuesday. “I will continue to focus my efforts on a new generation of leaders, rabbinic and lay, so that they are inspired by the breadth and depth of our Jewish heritage and a creative vision of what Anglo Jewry can achieve.

“I am also looking forward to an active post-retirement set of engagements to carry forward in new ways what I have sought to achieve during my period of office,” he said.


Lord Sacks has been chief rabbi since 1991, the sixth incumbent since the role was formalized in 1845.

Educated at Cambridge University, where he obtained first class honors in Philosophy, Lord Sacks got his PhD from Oxford University and King’s College London and rabbinic ordination from Jews’ College and Yeshiva Etz Chaim.

An accomplished writer, with books translated into French, Italian, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Korean and Hebrew, the chief rabbi has been a visiting professor at several universities in the UK, US and Israel and is currently Visiting Professor of Theology at Kings’ College London.

A respected and major voice of British Jewry, he is a frequent contributor to radio, television and the British national press.

He regularly delivers BBC Radio Four’s Thought for the Day, writes a monthly column for The Times and broadcasts an annual Rosh Hashana message on the BBC.

He received the Jerusalem Prize in 1995 for his contribution to Diaspora Jewish life and was knighted by the queen in 2005. Last year, he was made a life peer in the House of Lords.

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