Jonathan Sacks has been Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth since September 1991, the sixth incumbent since the role was formalized in 1845.
Prior to taking up his current post, Rabbi Sacks was Principal of Jews’ College, as well as rabbi of the Golders Green and Marble Arch synagogues.
Educated at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, where he obtained first class honours in Philosophy, Jonathan Sacks pursued postgraduate studies at New College, Oxford, and King’s College London, gaining his PH. D in 1981 and rabbinic ordination from Jews’ College and Yeshiva Etz Chaim.
The Chief Rabbi has been a visiting professor at several universities in Britain, the United States and Israel, and is currently Visiting Professor of Theology at Kings’ College London.
He holds 14 honorary degrees, including a Doctor of Divinity conferred to mark his first ten years in office, by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
At the time of his installation, the Chief Rabbi launched a ‘Decade of Jewish Renewal’. This led to a series of innovative communal projects including Jewish Continuity, a national foundation for Jewish educational programmes and outreach; the Association of Jewish Business Ethics; the Chief Rabbinate Awards for Excellence; the Chief Rabbinate Bursaries; and Community Development, a national scheme to enhance Jewish community life in partnership with the United Synagogue.
The Chief Rabbi began his second decade of office with a call to ‘Jewish Responsibility’ and a renewed commitment to the ethical dimension of Judaism.
The Chief Rabbi has received a number of prizes, including the Jerusalem Prize 1995 for his contribution to diaspora Jewish life and The Ladislaus Laszt Ecumenical and Social Concern Award from Ben Gurion University in Israel in 2011.
He was knighted by Her Majesty The Queen in 2005 and made a Life Peer, taking his seat in the House of Lords on 27th October 2009, where he sits on the cross benches as Baron Sacks of Aldgate in the City of London.
The Chief Rabbi is a frequent contributor to radio, television and the national press. He regularly delivers BBC Radio 4’s Thought for the Day, writes a monthly Credo column for The Times and broadcasts an annual Rosh Hashanah message on the BBC.
He has written 24 books, his most recent being The Great Partnership: God, Science and the Search for Meaning which was published in July 2011. A number of his books have won literary awards, including the Grawemeyer Prize for Religion in 2004 for The Dignity of Difference, and a National Jewish Book Award in 2000 for A Letter in the Scroll. Covenant & Conversation Volume 1 also won a National Jewish Book Award in 2009.
Born in 1948 in London, he has been married to Elaine since 1970. They have three children, Joshua, Dina and Gila and six grandchildren.