Interfaith Dialogue on “To Heal a Fractured World” at the 2023 Sacks Conversation

November 1, 2023

Faith leaders join together to condemn Hamas terrorism at Carnegie Hall event honouring the late Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

The 2023 Sacks Conversation took place at Carnegie Hall, New York, on Tuesday 31 October, serving as a significant contribution to the ongoing dissemination and celebration of Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks’ teachings. The event, titled “To Heal a Fractured World,” gained even greater relevance in the wake of the devastating terrorist attacks on October 7 and the subsequent conflict.

Shari Redstone, Chair of Paramount Global, delivered an emotional keynote, in which she revealed that due to the Hamas terror attacks she felt compelled to rewrite her speech. She said: “We’ve been here before, we know where it leads, and we cannot be silent.”

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Ms. Redstone added: “Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, of blessed memory, loved to share an old Hasidic teaching that saw the Jewish people as a living Torah scroll with each person as one of its letters. For Rabbi Sacks this offered a radical insight about human dignity. If a single letter in a scroll is damaged or missing, a Torah is considered invalid. If we ignore or dismiss a single person’s humanity, our collective humanity suffers.” 

This sentiment was reiterated in an interfaith panel discussion featuring Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Imam Abdullah Antepli, and Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik. These leaders from different faiths joined forces in condemning the October 7 Hamas terror attacks and underscored the significance of mutual understanding.

Imam Abdullah Antepli said: “The world was fractured enough before October 7. But after the barbaric savagery and monstrous terrorism that has been committed in the name of Palestinian suffering or in the name of Islam, as a Muslim it cuts much deeper. For those of us who are Muslim, the least we can do is condemn in the clearest terms possible this barbaric savagery without ‘ands’ and ‘buts’ to make sure this is unacceptable. No values or scripture of Islam can justify this. I cannot even find the words to express how broken and shaken I am for what I have seen.”

Andrew Klaber, Chair of the US Board of The Rabbi Sacks Legacy, said: “In honouring Rabbi Sacks’ memory, we are called to conversation, to grow in understanding, and to listen.” 

The event closed with guidance from Gila Sacks, daughter of Rabbi Sacks, urging the gathering to keep hope and stand by their faith through action to make the world “a place of justice and compassion”.

This was the third annual Sacks Conversation. The first was held in London with former Prime Minister Tony Blair, and the second took place last year in Israel, at the President's Residence, where Dr Erica Brown held a conversation with President Herzog.

The full event can be viewed here.