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Rabbi Jonathan Sacks Awarded Templeton Prize

Wednesday March2

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks has been awarded the 2016 Templeton Prize, it was announced this morning.

The former Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, philosopher, scholar and author will receive the £1.1 million prize in May.

A statement from the Templeton Foundation said that Rabbi Sacks had ‘spent decades bringing spiritual insight to the public conversation through mass media, popular lectures and more than two dozen books’.

“Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, 67, first gained attention by leading what many consider the revitalisation of Britain’s Jewish community during his service as Chief Rabbi from 1991 to 2013, a feat he accomplished in the face of dwindling congregations and growing secularisation across Europe.  During his tenure he built a network of organisations that introduced a Jewish focus in areas including business, women’s issues and education, and urged British Jewry to turn outward to share the ethics of their faith with the broader community.

“Central to his message is appreciation and respect of all faiths, with an emphasis that recognising the values of each is the only path to effectively combat the global rise of violence and terrorism.”

The prize, established in 1972 by Sir John Templeton, honours ‘a living person who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works’.

In remarks prepared for today's press conference, Rabbi Sacks said:  "Religion, or more precisely, religions, should have a voice in the public conversation within the societies of the West, as to how to live, how to construct a social order, how to enhance human dignity, honour human life, and indeed protect life as a whole… Each religion, and each strand within each religion, will have to undertake this work, because if religion is not part of the solution it will assuredly be a large part of the problem as voices become ever more strident, and religious extremists ever more violent.”

Jennifer Simpson, granddaughter of John Templeton and chair of the Foundation, said: "After 9/11, Rabbi Sacks saw the need for a response to the challenge posed by radicalisation and extremism and he did so with dignity and grace. He saw the need for the strengthening of ethics in the marketplace long before the financial crisis. He has always been ahead of his time and, thanks to his leadership, the world can look to the future with hope, something we are very much in need of right now."


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