Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks’ personal archive arrives at the National Library of Israel

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Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks’ personal archive arrives at the National Library of Israel

Some 50 boxes containing the wisdom of the renowned religious leader, philosopher, and respected moral voice were received today in Jerusalem

Images of Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks.
02.08.2013 © BLAKE-EZRA PHOTOGRAPHY LTD Images of Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks.

The personal archive of the late Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks has arrived at the National Library of Israel in Jerusalem.

In a significant milestone for both the library and The Rabbi Sacks Legacy, the charitable trust which honours the life and teachings of the former Chief Rabbi, some 50 cartons containing archival material, including files, notes, sermons, lectures, correspondence and books, have been received by Library curatorial and conservation staff.

While the archive awaits review and cataloging, an initial survey reveals materials on topics close to Rabbi Sacks’ heart, such as engaging Judaism with the world, community building and Jewish education, with more discoveries anticipated.

The Rothschild Foundation Hanadiv Europe supported the acquisition of the archive. Once catalogued, the National Library of Israel intends to provide extensive access to researchers, according to the terms agreed upon by the Sacks family.

Among the correspondence in the archive is a letter written in April 1998 ahead of Pesach. In it, Rabbi Sacks reflected on a period of disunity within the Jewish world: “The Haggadah is not predicated on a simple concept of Jewish unity. It presents to us a portrait of four children around the table. They are not the same. One is wise, one a rebel, one is simple, and one unable tס ask.

“Their perspectives are different. Their voices are not in harmony. But they sit at the same table. They are members of the same family. They tell the same story. We are the people who carried with us the indelible recollection of centuries of suffering, not because we revel in it, not because we see ourselves as victims, but in order to remember that whatever else divides us, history unites us.”

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks (1948–2020) was a global religious leader, philosopher, award-winning author, and respected moral voice. He was the laureate of the 2016 Templeton Prize in recognition of his “exceptional contributions to affirming life’s spiritual dimension.”

Described by HM King Charles III as “a light unto this nation”, Rabbi Sacks was a frequent and sought-after contributor to radio, television, and the press, both in Britain and around the world. He served as Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth for 22 years, between 1991 and 2013.

1 of 50 Sacks archive boxes at NLI – photo courtesy.

Lady Elaine Sacks said; “My dear husband expressed great enthusiasm for the new National Library of Israel, which he had described as ‘the Home of the Book for the People of the Book’. It is fitting that his personal archive will be housed there, continuing his legacy of sharing knowledge and wisdom with the world.”


Sallai Meridor, Chairman of the National Library of Israel, said: “We are honored to be given responsibility for incorporating the writings and teachings of Rabbi Sacks zt”l into the Library of the State of Israel and the Jewish People. His legacy will not only serve as a magnet and a source of inspiration but also, through digitization, this important archive will be made available around the world for generations to come.”

Official records from Rabbi Sacks’ tenure as Chief Rabbi are housed at the London Metropolitan Archives.

The 4th Sacks Conversation, an annual event honoring Rabbi Sacks’ enduring impact as a global moral voice, will be held at the National Library of Israel on November 21, 2024.

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