The Prince of Wales has paid tribute to former chief rabbi Lord Sacks, describing him as a leader whose “wisdom, scholarship and humanity were without equal”.
Lord Sacks died on Saturday aged 72.
He served as the chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, the figurehead of British Jews, for 22 years, stepping down in September 2013.
He was succeeded by the current chief rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis.
Prince Charles said in a statement: “It was with the most profound personal sorrow that I heard of the death of Rabbi Lord Sacks.
“With his passing, the Jewish community, our nation, and the entire world have lost a leader whose wisdom, scholarship and humanity were without equal.
“His immense learning spanned the sacred and the secular, and his prophetic voice spoke to our greatest challenges with unfailing insight and boundless compassion.
“His wise counsel was sought and appreciated by those of all faiths and none, and he will be missed more than words can say.
“Although Rabbi Lord Sacks’s death is a cause of the greatest possible sadness, we give thanks for the immeasurable contribution which — in the tradition of the most revered teachers of the Jewish people — he made to all our lives. I send my deepest condolences to his family.”
“The Shabbat light goes out and another great light has gone out in the Jewish world. Rabbi Lord Sacks was a great teacher and orator and held influence across the Jewish world and beyond. We are thinking of his family and loved ones at this time. May his memory always be a blessing.” – Rabbi Charley Baginsky, Interim Director of Liberal Judaism
A statement on Lord Sacks’ Twitter page said he died on Saturday morning.
It read: “Baruch Dayan Ha’Emet. It is with the deepest sadness that we regret to inform you that Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks (HaRav Ya’akov Zvi ben David Arieh z”l) passed away early this morning, Saturday, November 7, 2020 (Shabbat Kodesh 20th MarCheshvan 5781).”
Lord Sacks was an outspoken critic of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn amid the row over anti-Semitism in the party.
Current chief rabbi Mr Mirvis said the world had lost an “intellectual giant who had a transformative global impact”.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols said – I mourn the death of Jonathan Sacks. I express my sorrow to the worldwide Jewish community on the loss of this great figure. I assure them of my prayers & condolences. I have lost a friend; the Jewish community a great leader; humanity an eloquent spokesman. May he rest in peace.
Tributes were also paid to Lord Sacks by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who said: “His leadership had a profound impact on our whole country and across the world.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “He was a towering intellect whose eloquence, insights and kindness reached well beyond the Jewish community.”