Former Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks has been awarded another prestigious honour to add to his bulging trophy cabinet.
Sacks, 67, who handed over the chief rabbinate to Kinloss rabbi Ephraim Mirvis in 2013, is to be given the 2016 Templeton Prize, valued at more than £1million.
Sacks, the author of more than two dozen books, will get one of the world’s largest annual monetary awards in May at the British Academy in Carlton House Terrace, joining a list of 45 former recipients, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, the Dalai Lama and Czech priest and philosopher Tomáš Halík.
The prize, established by the late investor and philanthropist Sir John Templeton, honours a living person who has made “an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works”.
Templeton’s Foundation aims to serve as a “philanthropic catalyst for discoveries relating to the big questions of human purpose and ultimate reality”.
Lord Sacks said: “The receipt of this prize is one of the great moments in my life, and I am surprised, grateful and humbled all at once; not only because of what the Prize represents but also because of the man whose name it bears.
“Sir John Templeton was a remarkable human being who brought the same acumen that made him so successful an investor in financial capital to his philanthropic work that made him one of the world’s greatest investors in human and spiritual capital.”
In nominating Rabbi Sacks for the prize, former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord George Carey wrote: “There are public intellectuals and religious leaders, but few who are both at the same time. There are academic scholars and popular communicators, but he is both, reaching out far beyond his own constituency through the spoken, written and broadcast word.”
Current Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis gave his “warmest congratulations”, calling him “one of our foremost contemporary spiritual thinkers”. He added: “we have benefited from his theological insight, his clarity of thought”.