LONDON – Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, the Chief Rabbi of Britain for the past 22 years, has announced that he will retire in September of 2013.
Sacks has been Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth since September 1991, when he succeeded Immanuel Jakobovits.
Prior to becoming chief rabbi, Sacks was Principal of Jews’ College, and rabbi of the Golders Green and Marble Arch synagogues.
Born in 1948 in London, he was educated at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, where he obtained a degree in Philosophy, and pursued postgraduate studies at New College, Oxford, and King’s College London, gaining his PH. D in 1981 and rabbinic ordination from Jews’ College and Yeshiva Etz Chaim.
At the time of his installation, the Chief Rabbi launched a “Decade of Jewish Renewal,” which led to several innovative communal projects including Jewish Continuity, a national foundation for Jewish educational programmes and outreach; the Association of Jewish Business Ethics; the Chief Rabbinate Awards for Excellence; the Chief Rabbinate Bursaries, and Community Development, a national program designed to enhance Jewish community life.
Sacks received the Jerusalem Prize 1995 for his contribution to diaspora Jewish life, and was knighted by Her Majesty The Queen in 2005. He was made a Life Peer and took his seat in the House of Lords in 2009.
According to a report in the Jewish Chronicle, Simon Hochauser, United Synagogue president, said that focus groups will help in the selection process for a successor to Sacks.