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December 11, 2016 / 11 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Jonathan Sacks’

Koren Shavuot Mahzor Reveals Surprise

Monday, June 6th, 2016

“Shavuot is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma” writes Rabbi Jonathan Sacks in “The Greatest Gift” which introduces the new Koren Shavuot Mahzor. He explains, “According to the written sources, biblical and post-biblical, there was intense debate as to when Shavuot is celebrated and why. That is what makes the study of this particular festival so fascinating… it has to do with one of the most fundamental questions of all: what it is to be a Jew and why.”

The latest recipient of the prestigious Templeton Prize just released his latest work, his translation and commentary on the entire Shavuot tefilla service, published by Koren Publishers. This new Mahzor completes the Koren Mahzor series, but adds a new, surprising feature: the endorsement of the RCA, the Rabbinical Council of America. In fact, just this month, Koren and the RCA announced a new partnership that will include the RCA stamp of approval on all new editions of Koren’s English-Hebrew Maḥzor series.

“We are thrilled and honored to work together with the RCA,” says Matthew Miller, Koren’s publisher and CEO. “There’s no better time to launch this partnership than right before Shavuot, a time when we receive the Torah anew and rejoice in the spiritual and intellectual gift that the Jewish people has been given.”

This partnership brings together Koren’s world-renowned reputation for elegant and inspiring Jewish texts with the RCA’s strong constituency of more than 1,000 Orthodox rabbinical leaders in North America. Like the other prayer books in Koren’s growing collection, the new RCA-endorsed Shavuot Mahzor includes profound essays and commentary on the themes and concepts of the holiday by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, beautiful translations of the entire prayer service, Megillat Ruth and relevant Torah readings as well as prayers for the State of Israel, its soldiers and the American government. As this new venture progresses, Koren will issue new RCA-endorsed editions of all Koren Sacks Mahzorim and new siddurim.

Koren Publishers Jerusalem is largely known for introducing the thought of Rabbi Sacks to American Jewry through the Koren Sacks Siddur. Adopted widely by Modern Orthodox communities throughout North America, the Sacks Siddur brought in a new era into Orthodox synagogues by featuring a true-to-text translation that retains the rhythm of the tefillot, and a recognition of the modern State of Israel and its military forces. However, the company itself was founded by master typographer Eliyahu Koren in 1962. That year, Koren released its first edition of the Koren Tanakh, which won international acclaim for its textual precision and elegant design. It was the first Tanakh to be entirely produced in the nascent State of Israel.

Since that time, Koren Publishers has developed partnerships with a wide range of Orthodox organizations, scholars and institutions including Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz, Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, Rabbi Binyamin Lau, Yeshiva University, the OU, and more. Its divisions include Maggid Books and The Toby Press.

“As one of the key bodies representing North American Orthodox Jewry and outstanding rabbinic personalities, we believe this collaboration is the perfect fit for synagogues that wish to enrich their community’s tefilla experience,” said Rabbi Mark Dratch, Executive Vice President of the RCA. “We looking forward to working with Koren’s team on developing Siddurim and Maḥzorim together.”

Jewish Press Staff

The Eloquent Chief Rabbi Who Would Not Fight Israel’s Enemies

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

Jonathan Sacks delivered what may be his final address as Chief Rabbi at a dinner last month honoring his career of 22 years in office two months in advance of retirement. Lord Sacks warned world Jewry about the two threats to its continued existence. To the left, he cited the growing assimilation of the youth who no longer see any reason to raise Jewish families. To the right, the growing extremism and isolationism of the orthodox. “The two fastest growing elements in the Jewish world are those who embrace the world and reject Judaism, and those who embrace Judaism and reject the world.” He posed the following question to his audience: “If there is antisemitism or anti-Zionism in the future, who is going to fight it? The Jews who abandon Judaism? Or the Jews who abandon the world? Neither…”

The question was perplexing because amid the tremendous public triumphs of Sacks’ tenure which he achieved as a global spokesman for Judaism, the one goal that was not achieved was the combating of anti-Zionism and antisemitism in Britain and Europe. Not even when Stephen Hawking recently spoke out from Sacks’ alma mater, Cambridge University, endorsing the BDS movement against Israel – pulling out of a high profile academic conference in Jerusalem – did Sacks make any statement of disapproval. As an ambassador of Judaism Sacks’ has had few equals. But under his watch antisemitism in England has reached frightening heights.

When I served as rabbi at Oxford University from 1988 to 1999, there were serious challenges to Israel then, too, but there were rarely members of Parliament comparing the Israeli government to Nazi Germany like George Galloway. Jewish students were not afraid for their safety to wear a yarmulke on campus which has become the norm at some UK universities. Under Rabbi Sacks we have seen an arrest warrant issued against former Israeli Foreign Minister and current Justice Minister Tzipi Livni. Under Rabbi Sacks we have seen British governmental proposal for goods from Israel’s West Bank being labeled as having been grown by Jewish settlers. And of course there was the infamous vote at Oxford University in February to ban Israeli academics that thankfully failed. That it occurred at all is astonishing.

Lord Sacks was only nominally involved with many of these cases, refraining, for reasons best known to him, to defend Israel against vicious attack. Elsewhere I have written that part of this may stem from problems with the office itself. A Chief Rabbi is a member of the establishment and establishment figures tend not to make waves.

When I lived in the UK Rabbi Sacks was my hero. I was awed by his writings and remain so. But after I departed the UK and witnessed the growing tide of Israel-hatred in Britain I could no longer understand his unwillingness to combat the assault on the Jewish state.

Here lies the paradox of Sacks’ career as Chief Rabbi and how he will be remembered. On the one hand, he’s risen as one of the most respected apologists for Judaism in our time. A gifted communicator in both the written and spoken word, Sacks combines scholarship with a thoroughly modern understanding of current events and social currents. On the other hand, he will be remembered ultimately as having failed to defend his community against growing assault, especially in the two areas where he was most respected and successful: media and academia. That Sacks did not take to the BBC to say – definitively – that the portrayal of Israel in the British media is for the most part foul, inaccurate, and deeply biased will forever remain one of the great omissions of his Chief Rabbinate. That he did not speak out at his alma mater, Cambridge, and other leading British Universities, of Israel’s deep humanity, commitment to human rights, and condemn its neighbors who have constantly sought its destruction, will taint his legacy.

The central quality of leadership is not eloquence but moral courage, a preparedness to be hated in the pursuit what’s right. Moses was a stutterer who leaned on his brother Aaron as his spokesman. But what made him a leader was witnessing an Egyptian taskmaster savagely beating a Jew. Though Moses is a member of the Egyptian establishment, he speaks truth to power and allies himself with his people even though it means being rejected by the Egyptian hierarchy forever. Abraham Lincoln is said to have had a squeaky and high-pitched voice. His speeches were captivating in writing and remain among the most eloquent ever written. But the same was not true of the spoken word. But what made him a leader was the moral conviction that slavery was an absolute evil that had to be defeated and the Union was an unalloyed good that had to be defended. Winston Churchill was dismissed as a drunk and a crank by the British for sounding the alarm against Hitler. But his steadfastness in combating evil, amid being despised for it, is what saved Western civilization.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/america-rabbi-shmuley-boteach/the-eloquent-chief-rabbi-who-would-not-fight-israels-enemies/2013/07/16/

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