UK chief rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks gets peerage

Legislative advisory body appoints rabbi to sit as cross-bencher in the House of Lords.

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks 248 88 (photo credit: Jonny Paul [file])
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks 248 88
(photo credit: Jonny Paul [file])
Britain's chief rabbi, Rabbi Dr. Jonathan Sacks, has been made a life peer, it was announced Monday, allowing the community leader to take a place in the House of Lords. "I am honored by this appointment. I am proud to be following in the footsteps of my predecessor, Lord Jakobovits, who served in the House of Lords," Rabbi Sacks said. "I will be combining both my rabbinical responsibilities and the opportunities that membership of the Lords offer me to speak on issues that matter." The chief will sit as a cross-bencher in Britain's upper house, as a member who is not affiliated to either the government or opposition. "The cross-benches of the House of Lords have a significance in providing objective, independent, considered thought to debate," the chief rabbi said. "The moral and faith voice needs to be heard in our national conversation." The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, welcomed the announcement. "There are few intellectuals in this country with a firmer grasp of the moral and social challenges facing our nation or a greater capacity to articulate how we should be meeting them," he said. "The House of Lords will be greatly strengthened by his appointment." "This is an honor for the community as a whole as well as a reflection of the chief rabbi's extraordinary talents," said Vivien Wineman, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews. "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." The Chief Rabbi's Office emphasized that the appointment was made by Lords Appointment Commission, an advisory body set up by the prime minister to make recommendations for non-party-political peerages, rather than by Prime Minister Gordon Brown himself, to whom the chief rabbi is particularly close.