Tribute: Rooted in history, anchored by ethics, irrepressibly about the future

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Tribute: Rooted in history, anchored by ethics, irrepressibly about the future

Lord Jon and Lady Nicola Mendelsohn reflect on their personal friendship with former Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks

Lady Nicola Mendelsohn with former chief rabbi Lord Sacks
Lady Nicola Mendelsohn with former chief rabbi Lord Sacks

It is with profound sadness that we receive the news of Jonathan’s passing. He was a great friend and mentor to us both.

We like so many were blessed to have our lives touched and changed by this unique and treasured gift from G-d. For just over thirty years we had occasion to encounter him and to work with him across so many fields. Time with him was a joy but time spent listening to him was truly joyous.

Everyone has a Jonathan Sacks story. About a book they read. An inspirational speech listened to. Perhaps a call received. A life cycle moment transformed by his impact. Or words of comfort received at the most difficult of times. We will miss his voice, his smile and even his sighs.

For in Jonathan we truly had a leader to believe in. A decoder to help us understand. A sage to tell us what it meant and an architect who helped us build our lives, our family and our community.

He was a persuasive and passionate advocate of Jewish concerns whose participation in the House of Lords always was received with reverence and respect. His voice was always sure and strong. He provoked the simplest conclusions from a breath-taking ability to master the most complex of notions.

He was admired by leaders in society. He was looked up to by all for not just guidance in the ways of society but as the most cherished of counsellors.

Prime Ministers, who revelled in debating whatever he wrote – including those whose ideological approach was defined by so many by reference to their own names but who would in private refer to themselves as Sacks-ites!

He was rooted in history, anchored by ethics, a wide appreciation for the vast knowledge accumulated around thew worlds and the foundation stone of Torah. To many he was the greatest example of how to apply traditional values to a modern setting.

Lord Jon Mendelsohn With Lord Sacks

But he was more. Everything he did was irrepressibly about hope and the future. He didn’t just think of how to accommodate to the modern era but was so admired because he was about how to shape the modern era applying notions, such as morality, to areas where advances always need to be tempered by an appreciation of not just their consequences but of the boundless good that can be achieved by people.

His interventions in public debate always imbued the country and the world with thought, knowledge and wisdom. But he was so much more than a social philosopher and had a real ability to provoke ideas and notions of how to address the challenges of markets, science, technology and building community.

In most recent years he was a significant influence on many of the leading innovators, engineers and business leaders involved in the leading technology companies in the world. They marvelled at someone so comfortable bringing in ideas first written in the Aramaic language whilst being open to listen and learn what the promise of computer languages like Javascript and Python could do to change the world. He was truly liked and esteemed for visionary and deep-rooted thoughts and, as ever, hard at work being an important part of shaping a better future.

Our hearts go out to Elaine, Joshua, Dina, Gila and the entire family. May they be comforted by the love and good wishes of his many admirers and the certain knowledge that his remarkable legacy lives on not just in the hearts and minds of so many but in how the world today and the lives of so many is so vastly better for the influence and changes he caused to be made in his life time.

His immeasurable contribution and extraordinary humanity with live with us forever.

May his memory always be a blessing to us all.

Lord Mendelsohn and Lady Mendelsohn CBE

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