WEST CONSHOHOCKEN, Pa. – Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, the former Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth who has spent decades bringing spiritual insight to the public conversation through mass media, popular lectures and more than two dozen books, has been awarded the 2016 Templeton Prize.
Rabbi Sacks, 67, first gained attention by leading what many consider the revitalization of Britain's Jewish community during his service as Chief Rabbi from 1991 to 2013, a feat he accomplished in the face of dwindling congregations and growing secularization across Europe. During his tenure he catalyzed a network of organizations that introduced a Jewish focus in areas including business, women's issues and education, and urged British Jewry to turn outward to share the ethics of their faith with the broader community.
Central to his message is appreciation and respect of all faiths, with an emphasis that recognizing the values of each is the only path to effectively combat the global rise of violence and terrorism.
In his most recent book, Not in God's Name: Confronting Religious Violence, Rabbi Sacks writes: "Too often in the history of religion, people have killed in the name of the God of life, waged war in the name of the God of peace, hated in the name of the God of love and practiced cruelty in the name of the God of compassion. When this happens, God speaks, sometimes in a still, small voice almost inaudible beneath the clamor of those claiming to speak on his behalf. What he says at such times is: ‘Not in My Name.'"