Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks to teach at NYU, Yeshiva University

November 6, 2013

Courtesy of LSRJ

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, the former chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, announced his dual professorship at NYU and Yeshiva University on Oct. 29 in a press release.

At NYU, Sacks will be the Ingeborg and Ira Rennert Global Distinguished Professor of Judaic Thought, while at Yeshiva he will be the Kressel and Ephrat Family University Professor of Jewish Thought.

The dual professorship will last for a total of three years. Sacks will spend six weeks at Yeshiva, six weeks at NYU, either in the city or at a global site, and six weeks of shared time between the universities in New York City. Each year, Sacks will spend a total of 18 weeks teaching.

Sacks is known for his huge impact on the Jewish community and on the world during his time as chief rabbi. Now that he will be teaching at NYU and Yeshiva, he plans to continue being a presence in the media in order to motivate the Jewish people to be a part of the world.

“As Chief Rabbi, I tried to show that Judaism has a message not just for Jews but for all of us, and that the stronger we are in our Judaism, the greater the blessings we bring to the common good,” Sacks said.

NYU chaplain Rabbi Yehuda Sarna said Sacks is influential because his voice articulates Jewish morality in a way that is not absolutist.

“Rabbi Sacks is developing a voice in the public sphere that few religious leaders in a public sphere could accomplish,” Sarna said. “He brings Jewish ethics into conversation with current events.”

Sacks has been criticized in the United Kingdom for not supporting same-sex marriage. Stern sophomore Eric Miller said he did not think this would be an issue for the rabbi in New York.

“[Jews] are supposed to follow the rules of where [they] live, Miller said. “I don’t know that I can say how Rabbi Sacks feels about it being the law but he … would have to abide by it.”

Zachary Schwarzbaum, a Gallatin sophomore and president of Hillel NYU, said Sacks is important because of his profound impact on the Jewish community and the world as a whole.

“Rabbi Sacks has the ability to transcend cross-cultural boundaries,” Schwarzbaum said. “He has a remarkable capacity to relate to diverse audiences.”

Sarna said Sacks’ transition to New York City is a natural transition from chief rabbi.

“His dual professorships represent his duality of voice, which is rooted in the Jewish community, but carries beyond,” Sarna said.

Sacks is looking forward to being involved in academics in New York City.

“The vibrancy of New York is something very exciting,” Sacks said. “The American Jewish community is tremendously creative and innovative in its work, and we are looking forward to seeing this firsthand over the coming months and years ahead.”

A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday, Nov. 6 print edition. Ann Schmidt is a staff writer. Email her at news@nyunews.com. 

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