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Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

The Genesis Prize Foundation announced plans to honor the late prominent scholar, theologian, philosopher and former Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom Lord Jonathan Sacks.

In 2020, the foundation for the first time invited the public to nominate laureates for this year’s award. Sacks, one of the seven finalists, passed away on Nov. 7 in the midst of the voting campaign, during which tens of thousands of Jews throughout the world cast their votes for him.

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On Feb. 10, director, producer and philanthropist Steven Spielberg was announced as this year’s recipient of the Genesis Prize.

Sacks served as a member of the Genesis Prize Selection Committee from its founding until 2015.

“Like so many people around the world, we were immensely saddened by the untimely passing of Rabbi Sacks,” said Stan Polovets, co-founder and chairman of the Genesis Prize Foundation. “No one in the world was as adept at explaining Judaism to both Jews and non-Jews as Lord Sacks, always emphasizing the religion’s focus on justice, morality and tolerance. We plan to honor this great Jewish voice by paying tribute to his life’s work, and supporting the preservation of his intellectual and spiritual legacy, to ensure it continues to live on for future generations.”

Sacks was the chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth for 22 years between 1991 and 2013. He gained international renown as a teacher of Jewish values and proponent of inter-religious dialogue. An internationally prominent and admired figure, he was also a trusted and influential adviser to the heads of government and members of the British Royal Family.

The Genesis Prize Foundation plans to honor his life and global impact at an event in London on Nov. 14, shortly after the first anniversary of the rabbi’s passing. As part it, the foundation will produce a documentary on Sacks and is in discussions with the Rabbi Sacks Legacy Trust about supporting other significant initiatives aimed at celebrating and sustaining his legacy.

Israeli statesman, human-rights activist and 2020 Genesis Prize Laureate Natan Sharansky said: “Rabbi Sacks represents the ancient wisdom of our people, embodied in modern times; a contemporary voice unmatched in its moral clarity, profound knowledge, and love of his people and of the State of Israel. His universalisms were deeply rooted in Jewish tradition; his Jewish teaching opened arms to all cultures and religions. I know Rabbi Sacks took pride helping the Genesis Prize in its early stages and am deeply inspired by the foundation’s decision to celebrate his legacy, ever so relevant today.”

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