Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks will formally receive the Templeton Prize at a ceremony in the presence of clergy and faith-leaders, dignitaries and his supporters from the worlds of politics, academia, business, the media and the Jewish community this evening, Thursday 26th May at 8pm to be held at Central Hall Westminster.
The prize will be presented to Rabbi Sacks by Heather Templeton Dill, President of the John Templeton Foundation.
Jonathan Sacks, 68, the former Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth who has spent decades bringing spiritual insight to the public conversation through mass media, popular lectures and more than 25 books, is the 46th winner of the Templeton Prize.
Performers at the ceremony include the Shabbaton Choir, the Sacks Morasha Primary School Choir, and organist Gerard Brooks, Director of Music Central Hall Westminster.
In prepared remarks, Rabbi Sacks warns about the dangers of outsourcing morality. “You can’t delegate moral responsibility away. When you do, you raise expectations that cannot be met. And when, inevitably, they are not met, society becomes freighted with disappointment, anger, fear, resentment and blame.”
HRH The Prince of Wales hosted a private reception in honour of Rabbi Sacks at Clarence House earlier this spring where he presented Rabbi Sacks with the Templeton Prize pyramid.
Rabbi Sacks first gained attention by leading the revitalisation of Britain’s Jewish community while 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 catalysed 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.
In videos on the Prize website, (www.templetonprize.org), Rabbi Sacks tackles many issues, including the recent spread of religious violence which he argues has been sparked by the export of Western secularisation.
Valued at £1.1 million, the Templeton Prize is one of the world’s largest annual monetary awards given to an individual and honours a living person who has made exceptional contributions to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works.
Rabbi Sacks joins a distinguished group of 45 former recipients, including Mother Teresa, who received the inaugural Prize award in 1973, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1983), and philosopher Charles Taylor (2007). Last year’s Prize winner was Canadian theologian Jean Vanier, the founder of L’Arche, an international network of communities where people with and without intellectual disabilities live and work together as peers. The 2014 Laureate was Czech priest and philosopher Tomáš Halík, following Desmond Tutu, the former Anglican archbishop of Cape Town, in 2013 and the Dalai Lama in 2012.
Established in 1972 by the late investor and philanthropist Sir John Templeton, the Templeton Prize is a cornerstone of the John Templeton Foundation’s international efforts to serve as a philanthropic catalyst for discoveries relating to the Big Questions of human purpose and ultimate reality.
Picture credit: Blake Ezra