Nearly two thousand people turned out at the Barbican on Tuesday 21st May 2013 to pay tribute to outgoing Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, Lord Jonathan Sacks, at a farewell event, organised by the United Synagogue in partnership with El Al.
Tickets for the event had sold out just days after going on sale as people from across the community seized the opportunity to attend this unique event.
The evening began with an outstanding performance from the Shabbaton Choir followed by a welcome address from United Synagogue President, Stephen Pack. General Eliezer Shkedy, EL AL President and CEO addressed the audience and referred to EL AL’s special Sefer Torah that has been written by various Jewish scholars around the world, including Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks, where he filled in his letters at an event in Hendon US in December 2012. This Sefer Torah, now completed, is kept by EL AL in Israel and then transported to any location in the world where an Israeli humanitarian relief / search and rescue team is in attendance.
The highlight of the evening was a fascinating live conversation between Sir David Frost and the Chief Rabbi during which the audience heard Lord Sacks’ reflections on community, education, Jewish vales and faith in the public sphere with humorous comments and interjections from both individuals. This was followed by a spectacular choral finale where the Shabbaton Choir were joined by 300 United Synagogue school children who performed a specially composed version of the prayer ‘Anim Zemirot’.
Following the event, Lord Sacks commented, “Tuesday night was a magical evening and one I will never forget. I want to thank all those in the United Synagogue, the Shabbaton Choir and chazzanim, Sir David Frost, and especially the remarkable children who are the light and future of this wonderful community. To see 300 of them on the Barbican stage, singing from their hearts and souls, was a unique moment and an image that will stay with Elaine and I for the rest of our lives. As I look back over the past twenty two years, I am filled with pride at what has been a remarkable communal story of success. It has been a privilege to have had the honour of playing a small role in everything that has been achieved. As we look to the future, I am filled with excitement knowing that British Jewry and the United Synagogue are in good hands.”
Stephen Pack, President of the United Synagogue added, “We have been privileged to have been a part of an extraordinary journey with the Chief Rabbi, during which we have navigated some challenging times as well as some incredible successes. His enduring dignity and wisdom have inspired and motivated us in equal measure and for that we, and indeed the whole of the Jewish community, are extremely grateful.”