Ben-Gurion University honors UK Chief Rabbi Sacks

Award “acknowledges and rewards people whose deeds reflect tolerance, hope and vision – those aspects so essential to the survival of the human race.”

March 10, 2011 07:10
2 minute read.
CHIEF RABBI Lord Sacks receives award

Jonathan Sacks getting award 311. (photo credit: Dani Machlis)

UK Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks was honored by Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba on Wednesday for his exceptional work as “a widely published theologian and philosopher, whose aspirations for truth and mutual respect of all peoples guide his actions.”

The Ladislaus Laszt Ecumenical and Social Concern Award, presented for the first time in 1985, “acknowledges and rewards people whose deeds reflect tolerance, hope and vision – those aspects so essential to the survival of the human race.”

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Harold Paisner, president of the Ben-Gurion University Foundation in London, saluted Sacks, calling him a “true beacon of hope, who brilliantly advances Jewish values to the wider community.”

Paisner added that Sacks is a “gift to the Anglo- Jewish community, and British society as a whole.”

In a speech titled “The Challenge of Religious Difference in a Desecularizing Age,” Sacks declared “there is no such thing as a ‘postsecular age’” – explaining that since Alexis de Tocqueville’s seminal 1831 work, Democracy in America, “intellectuals” have been sure that enlightenment and democracy would spell the end of religion.

Sacks traced the success of Western civilization to the revolutionary strength of religion – particularly monotheism – and its inherent separation of powers.

“Abraham is not the Kohen Hagadol,” he pointed out, explaining that “in Judaism, the only real power is the king of kings, and not the pharaoh or other leader who ruled as a god.”

Sacks discussed the current unrest in the Middle East in the context of religion and its relationship to power.

“For every Jew in the world there are 100 Muslims and 183 Christians,” he said. “Few things will matter more than our relationship with Christianity and Islam – and that in turn will depend on our relation with Judaism.

“The good news is that whether it is the first challenge [of] making space for difference, [or] the second challenge [of] separating religion from power – we come with long...

and successful experience,” Sacks added. “And I am proud to be a member of a religion whose sages coined a blessing for the sages of the nations of the world. People who disagreed with us totally – but still recognized the wisdom of a great scholar that is a great religion.”

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