When the Chief Rabbi steps down next weekend, it will represent the end of an era for his family too. Elaine Sacks, who Lord Sacks this week praised as being a “source of strength” during the thornier moments over the past 22 years, has also hosted countless good causes and also been a constant in hosting charities and celebrated milestones in communal life at Hamilton Terrace, much of it behind the scenes.
As Elaine prepares to leave Hamilton Terrace, with removal boxes scattered all around the couple’s home, she feels a sense of a job well done and the time being right to move on. “There is now a sense that it’s time to start the next part of our lives. It’s always a bit disruptive to move house. But once that is done and dusted and we’ve moved, we’re looking forward to the next stage and doing other things.”
Elaine says the palpable growth of “yiddishkait” in the UK over the past two decades is perhaps her greatest source of pride. “Look how many more children are going to Jewish schools, how much more learning there is, how much more people are aware or taking part in Jewish activities. I hope some of that is down to my husband. It’s very good to see.”
So, what has been the best part of being the chief rabbi’s wife? “I tell you something,” Elaine replies with a smile. “Our children-in-law have said, when they joined the family, after a few months, ‘Oh Elaine, I want to be like you.’ Because you get invited to all these great occasions and you get to travel, but you don’t have to do all the speeches, Nothing really rest with you, you just have to do the turning up and be thoroughly spoiled, and I have turned up and been thoroughly spoiled quite a lot. I’ve really enjoyed that.”
And the toughest? “It was quite difficult at the beginning because our children were young and so it was quite a different lifestyle to have to bring up a family in as normal way as we can whilst myself and my husband were doing all sorts of public stuff, and trying to have the two things going at the same time.”
Looking to the future, Elaine says she’s looking forward to seeing more of the children and grandchildren. She adds: “I hope that once the dust has settled, to take a deep breath and find some new projects, and maybe travel more with my husband.”