A Message from President Herzog to mark the first yahrzeit

October 25, 2021

To mark the first yahrzeit of Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks zt”l, Isaac Herzog, President of Israel, recorded this video message.

Few figures in our history have shaped our global Jewish conversation, dear friends, as much as Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks zt”l. His call for a Judaism engaged with the world, his appeal to respect the dignity of difference, his cry to heal the fractured world, all these have inspired me personally and so many Jews all around the world.

Rabbi Sacks was a giant of a man, a Rabbi whose prose reads like poetry, whose words in the magically soft and wise voice touched our hearts and souls and our minds, whose humility, whose kindness, whose brilliance of mind enriched the Jewish world, and indeed, the entire world. His untimely passing one year ago has left an enormous void in our collective Jewish life.

This Shabbat, dear friends, Jews from all around the world will read the Torah portion of Chayei Sarah, and it is striking that Rabbi Sacks’ yahrzeit coincides with this parsha. We read that Abraham mourned the death of his wife, Sarah, and found two ways to honour her legacy. First, he acquired a burial plot, a piece of land that would forever hold her memory. But more importantly, Abraham found a wife for Isaac. He made sure not just to honour Sarah’s past, but to give her a future. He made sure that there would be hearts and minds in which to hold her memory, that the great project that he had begun with Sarah would live on. This was Abraham’s greatness. Even in grief, he was invested in the future. When he found a void, he filled it with love.

Rabbi Sacks inspired and continues to inspire us to invest in Jewish future, to understand that we are all part of one great Jewish story, and we are each called upon to add our own chapter to this story.

I’m so moved, therefore, to see Jews from all around the world participating in this wonderful Communities in Conversation initiative honouring Rabbi Sacks’ impact on our world by talking and learning. Just like Abraham, everyone engaged in this great project is honouring the past by investing in our future together. We are filling the void with love, and through love we heal our fractured world and build a home together.

I sorely miss Rabbi Sacks very much, and I’m comforted by the outpouring of love for him one year after his tragically passing away, as well as his enormous writing, his enormous legacy and his wonderful ideas.

May his memory be an eternal blessing for all of us and for humanity at large.