May 28, 2024
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May 28, 2024
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First Worldwide Cohort of 26 Sacks Scholars Gathers in Jerusalem to Launch Program

Sacks Scholars with Lady Elaine Sacks at StandWithUs. (Credit: Rabbi Sacks Scholars)

(Courtesy of Rabbi Sacks Legacy) A group of 26 Jewish educators and communal professionals who shared personal connections with Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, zt”l convened in Jerusalem this week for a high-level immersive learning experience led by The Rabbi Sacks Legacy. The inaugural cohort of “Sacks Scholars” engaged in deep exploration of Rabbi Sacks’ teachings in the city that was so beloved to him, Jerusalem, preparing to promulgate his timeless wisdom through innovative programming upon their return to their communities.

The four-day retreat served as the launching point for a year-long initiative to cultivate a network of Rabbi Sacks-inspired scholars. Following the retreat, participants will partake in ten monthly online seminars led by global leaders in Jewish education, academia, and politics. These seminars will be guided by Rabbi Sacks’ philosophy that “leadership at its highest transforms those who exercise and those who are influenced by it.”

“Rabbi Sacks called for a Judaism engaged with the world, a Judaism that addresses contemporary issues of global importance,” said The Rabbi Sacks Legacy North American Executive Director Rabbi Jeremy Bruce. “During the Jerusalem retreat and throughout the yearlong program, the Sacks Scholars will create new ways to respond to this vital challenge.”

During the introductory conference in Jerusalem, the scholars immersed themselves in discussions on the Torah and philosophical teachings of Rabbi Sacks, while exploring his unique approach to leadership that can be imparted to communities. The sessions included moderated panel discussions, lectures, and roundtable conversations held at landmark locations across the city, such as the Lord Sacks Forest, the Italian Synagogue, the Museum of Tolerance, and HaMiffal arts center.

The opening session, titled “The Man Behind the Yellow Tie,” took place at Confederation House and featured a panel discussion led by individuals closest to Rabbi Sacks, including his brother Alan Sacks, his close friend Rabbi Lionel Rosenfeld, and Syma Weinberg, who served as the director of the Office of the Chief Rabbi for 13 years.

Sacks Scholars at the Lord Sacks Forest. (Credit: Ingrid Muller)

Over the course of the retreat, the scholars engaged in more than 20 intellectually stimulating sessions, ranging from practical applications such as “Becoming a Sacks Scholar,” to more abstract topics such as “Judaism, Humanity and the Cosmos: Moral Philosophical and Technical Challenges,” led by former Israeli Knesset members Michal Cotler-Wunsh and Tehila Friedman, among others.

Participants also engaged in discussion on creating a common Jewish language to unite Jews from different backgrounds and perspectives during a roundtable with the renowned Judaic philosopher Dr. Micah Goodman. Other experiential highlights included a private conversation and concert, “The Spirituality of Song,” led by Ishay Ribo and Sivan Rahav Meir in the ancient City of David, and an in-depth exploration of the Judicial Reform controversy by political analyst Haviv Rettig Gur at the National Library of Israel. Another conversation explored ways of increasing their impact through the adaptive leadership framework of Harvard Professor Ronald Heifetz, widely regarded as one of the world’s foremost authorities on leadership application.

Participants hailed from the US, Israel, Australia, Canada, the UK and South Africa. The U.S. participants included:

Rabbi Joseph Beyda of Yeshivah of Flatbush Joel Braverman High School in Brooklyn, New York

Dr. Mijal Bitton of the Downtown Minyan in New York City

Rabbi Dr. Dov Lerner of the Young Israel of Jamaica Estates of Queens and Yeshiva University’s Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought in New York

Sarah Hass Robinson of Lincoln Square Synagogue and Yeshiva University Wurzweiler School of Social Work in New York City

Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Sinensky of the Main Line Classical Academy in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and of the Lamm Heritage Archives in New York and of The Lehrhaus

“Rabbi Sacks’ thoughts and leadership far transcend his immediate community and had a global impact. This week, we brought together his students who are leaders in their communities for an intensive conference to discuss how to continue to share his wisdom with people around the world,” said The Rabbi Sacks Legacy Chief Executive Joanna Benarroch.

“By relaying tools to spread Rabbi Sacks’ teachings, the scholars are both continuing to perpetuate his legacy as well as emulating what Rabbi Sacks saw as each person’s strongest obligation – not just leading but empowering others to lead,” she added.

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