My Rabbinic Patron – Eulogy for Rabbi Jonathan Sacks z”tl
My wife Tamara and I met Rabbi Sacks and his wife Elaine in Montevideo, March 2013. They were there as part of their tour of a few South American communities. We were there being interviewed for Rabbinic roles in the community.
I had attended lectures by Rabbi Sacks before, had read and enjoyed tremendously several of his books, and was a consistent reader and fan of his weekly Covenant & Conversation articles. It was, therefore, an incredible thrill for me, when addressing the Jewish community of Montevideo on Shabbat afternoon, to quote Rabbi Sacks in front of Rabbi Sacks.
On Sunday, I got to have a little private time with him, where he gave his nod as well as encouragement for me to accept the Uruguayan Chief Rabbi post. I believe that his approval likely sealed the deal for both myself and the community.
On Monday, meeting him yet again and after he had a chance to peruse some of my Biblical Fiction books that I had gifted to him, he encouraged me further to keep writing and publishing my material (which I did).
Thereafter, Rabbi Sacks became my rabbinic patron, being a model of a type of rabbinic leadership to provide a community (adjusted for Uruguay), and making himself available to provide me guidance at pivotal junctures of my role.
Shortly after meeting Rabbi Sacks and seeing his electrifying effect on the Jewish community, together with some other volunteers, we embarked on translating his weekly Covenant & Conversation articles into Spanish. That effort continues until this day, more than seven years later, by a team of devoted volunteers from several South American countries.
Besides emailing the articles to a growing list of subscribers as well as sharing it on Rabbi Sacks’ website, we also archived them for several years on my blog https://bentzis.wordpress.com/category/rabino-sacks/
Then, a couple of years ago, we created a blog exclusively for Rabbi Sacks’ Spanish articles: https://rabinosacks.org/
Now, in his memory and to bring more of his Torah and wisdom to the Spanish-speaking world, we’d like to do two things:
- Upgrade the website – right now it’s a simple archive, not easy or intuitive to search or navigate, nor is it visually appealing – we’d like to fix that, as well as transfer the hundreds of articles that are posted on my private blog, to this one central repository.
- Translate and edit more of Rabbi Sacks’ material. While we have a significant number of articles translated (close to 400 articles) there are hundreds more waiting to be translated.
If you are able and interested in helping with any of the above, please be in touch.
We have lost a giant. His wisdom, his articulation, his insightfulness, his ability to transcend borders, differences, cultures, and even languages were incredible. His ability to connect with people from all backgrounds, faiths, and denominations while remaining a pillar of Jewish thought, firmly grounded in tradition, yet refreshing in his outlook, shattered barriers. I saw with my own eyes his success in his bringing closer Jews who had been estranged from Judaism for decades. I expect it will take many long years for us to realize the impact that Rabbi Sacks has had on the global Jewish community and even upon the world at large. He will be sorely, sorely missed.
May his family be consoled among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.
Former Chief Rabbi of Uruguay