Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks’ Personal Archive Arrives at the National Library of Israel

April 16, 2024
National Library of Israel archive news Rabbi Sacks book in NLI reading room

Some 50 boxes containing the personal archives of the renowned religious leader, philosopher, and respected moral voice were received today in Jerusalem.

The Rabbi Sacks Legacy and the National Library of Israel are delighted to announce a significant milestone for both institutions as the personal archive of the late Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks arrives at the Library in Jerusalem. Some 50 cartons containing archival material, including files, notes, sermons, lectures, correspondence and books, have been received by Library curatorial and conservation staff.

Official records from Rabbi Sacks’ tenure as Chief Rabbi are housed at the London Metropolitan Archives. While the archive awaits review and cataloging, an initial survey reveals materials on topics close to Rabbi Sacks’ heart, such as engaging Judaism with the world, community building and Jewish education, with more discoveries anticipated.

The Rothschild Foundation Hanadiv Europe supported the acquisition of the archive. Once catalogued, the National Library of Israel intends to provide extensive access to researchers, according to the terms agreed upon by the Sacks family.

Among the correspondence in the archive is a letter written in April 1998 ahead of Pesach. In it, Rabbi Sacks reflected on a period of disunity within the Jewish world:

“The Haggadah is not predicated on a simple concept of Jewish unity. It presents to us a portrait of four children around the table. They are not the same. One is wise, one a rebel, one is simple, and one unable to ask. Their perspectives are different. Their voices are not in harmony. But they sit at the same table. They are members of the same family. They tell the same story. We are the people who carried with us the indelible recollection of centuries of suffering, not because we revel in it, not because we see ourselves as victims, but in order to remember that whatever else divides us, history unites us.”

Lady Elaine Sacks said, “My dear husband expressed great enthusiasm for the new National Library of Israel, which he had described as ‘the Home of the Book for the People of the Book’. It is fitting that his personal archive will be housed there, continuing his legacy of sharing knowledge and wisdom with the world.”

Sallai Meridor, Chairman of the National Library of Israel, said, "We are honoured to be given responsibility for incorporating the writings and teachings of Rabbi Sacks zt"l into the Library of the State of Israel and the Jewish People. His legacy will not only serve as a magnet and a source of inspiration but also, through digitisation, this important archive will be made available around the world for generations to come."

The Rabbi Sacks Legacy expresses its appreciation to the Marcus Margulis Charitable Trust for their generous support and encouragement of this project.

National library of israel reading room NLI photo %C2%A9 Aviad Bar Ness 2024
Credit: Aviad Bar-Ness
rabbi sacks in his study 2016 reading room writing signing learning working limmud
1 of 50 sacks archive boxes at nli photo courtesy