By Mili Chizhik, News Editor
On October 27, 2021, YU announced on their news blog the founding of the Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks Center for Values and Leadership, or the Sacks-Herenstein Center, in memory of Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, zt”l (may his name be of blessed memory).
With his first yahrzeit [anniversary of passing] happening this past week, Rabbi Sacks will always be remembered as a major inspirational figure within the Jewish community. As described in YU’s blog post, Sacks-Herenstein Center was created by Terri and Andrew Herenstein with the intention to spread the teachings and contributions of “Emeritus Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of Great Britain and the Commonwealth” to the Jewish community. The goal of the center is to have classroom discussions of Rabbi Sacks’s lessons and values, while also encouraging others to endeavor authoritative roles and voices in the community. Moreover, the graduates of this program will continue on to teach, write, and publicize the strong Jewish values and ethics that were so important to Rabbi Sacks.
The blog post continued further when describing the role of the Sacks-Herenstein Center, explaining, “It will—in the spirit of Rabbi Sacks—educate students, communal leaders, teachers, executives and authors using the timeless teachings of Judaism’s spirit, embodying our core Torah values and applying Jewish wisdom in addressing the challenges of our era, both within the Jewish community and beyond.”
Throughout his life, Rabbi Sacks was awarded many titles and degrees. He also gave speeches at YU institutions and events. As described in the blog post, “He was awarded an honorary doctorate in 1997, received the inaugural Lamm Prize in 2010, and was appointed the Kressel and Ephrat Family University Professor of Jewish Thought at Yeshiva University in 2013. Rabbi Sacks also regularly addressed the student body, most recently at YU’s commencement in 2020.”
Lady Elaine Sacks, wife of Rabbi Sacks, shared with YU that “the establishment of The Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks Center for Values and Leadership founded by Terri and Andrew Herenstein is something I find extremely moving. My husband’s relationship with Yeshiva University was one he treasured over many decades. We always enjoyed our visits to the campus, in large part because of the warm reception he always received and, most importantly, because of what Yeshiva University stood for: a combination of Torah u’Madda, of Torah knowledge and worldly wisdom. It was this combination that framed my husband’s life and work.” Lady Sacks elaborated, “That is why it means a great deal to me and my family to see his legacy and teachings continue in this way at Yeshiva University. I want to personally thank Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman together with the Herensteins for their vision and support in bringing this project to fruition. I hope generations of students are inspired to live, as my husband described it, ‘a Judaism engaged with the world,’ one that teaches them Jewish values and challenges them to take on leadership positions in their future careers.”
One of the founders, Terri Herenstein, shared in the YU blog post that they “are excited to partner in this deeply impactful project. Through his words and life lessons, Rabbi Sacks has been a guiding light for our entire family. A number of years ago, we were fortunate to host Rabbi Sacks and Lady Elaine for Shabbat, and his Torah continues to illuminate our Shabbat table and spiritual lives to this day.”
Andrew Herenstein, another founder of the Sacks-Herenstein center, shared in the post, “When Dr. Berman mentioned the possibility of creating a lasting legacy to Rabbi Sacks at YU, a lightning bolt struck. The opportunity to combine the flagship Jewish university with one of the preeminent theological minds of our generation was exhilarating. Both YU and Rabbi Sacks’ writings are powered by the same principles: that Jewish values matter and that creating a meaningful Jewish future is dependent on stewarding the next generation of Jewish leaders intellectually, morally and spiritually.”
President Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman said in the post, “Yeshiva University is guided by our Core Torah Values and our mission is to inspire the leaders of tomorrow. Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks uniquely exemplified and articulated Yeshiva University’s world view and mission to the broader Jewish people and the world at large. While his loss left us bereft, his words and teachings continue to inspire and inform. This new center, powered by his teachings, will be dedicated to both transmitting values and educating the next generations’ leaders.”
President Berman continued, “Terri and Andrew Herenstein are outstanding leaders and examples to our community and students. They are role models of living a life infused by Torah values, with a deep dedication to impacting the Jewish world and beyond through their exceptional communal leadership and philanthropy. Their devotion is reflected in Andrew’s leadership as a distinguished Trustee of YU. I am deeply grateful for their partnership in transmitting to the next generations the teachings of Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.”