Chief: ‘It’s going to be a busy three years. There’s lots to do’

by Justin Cohen

British Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks is most recently the author of Future Tense

The Chief Rabbi this week pledged to make his final three years in office “more hectic” than ever after it was announced he is to retire in September 2013.

Lord Sacks, 62, who became the sixth chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth in 1991, has launched groundbreaking initiatives to enhance anglo-Jewry while also taking Judaism to a far wider audience through his media broadcasts and numerous books.

The hunt for his successor will begin next summer following a widespread consultation on the nature of the chief rabbinate.

But, in his only interview since the date for his retirement was announced at Monday’s United Synagogue Council meeting, Lord Sacks told the Jewish News there would be “no slackening in any way” during his remaining years at the helm. He said: “We’ve got a lot to do. It’s going to be a very active three years and I’m determined to leave the strongest possible foundations for whoever my successor might be.”

He promised that his already packed schedule would become “more hectic and focused” and insisted this was not the time to reflect on past achievements and highlights. “I’m driving at 70 miles an hour. When you’re driving that fast you must keep your eyes on the road ahead. I will hopefully be beginning, if not completing, a new set of machzorim for anglo-Jewry. One new thing we have done so far during this Jewish year is to take my teaching online on the iPad. I want to exploit the full possibilities of the web. ”

As discussions continue over many other possible projects, the chief rabbi also shared his hopes for the community he would like to leave to his successor: “I want a strong Jewish community that is driven by confidence, not fear. A community that walks tall as Jews and is not intimidated by any extremes outside the community or within.”

Speculation this week stepped up a gear over who could succeed him, with the names of Jewish News columnist Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet, Borehamwood and Elstree’s Rabbi Naftali Brawer and Rabbi Jeremy Lawrence of Sydney’s
Great Synagogue among the names being mentioned.

Lord Sacks, who has vowed he would also not be slowing down in retirement, said: “The one thing I would say to my successor is: don’t try to be your predecessor. You do it your way.”

Simon Hochhauser, chairman of the Chief Rabbinate Trust, said it had always been Lord Sacks’ plan to step down in his 65th year, but the announcement came at the start of a consultation process aimed at hearing views on the nature of a 21st-century chief rabbinate and the process of selecting a new chief rabbi. It is hoped that that process will be completed by next July before attempts to actively identify candidates commence.

Hochhauser said: “The chief rabbi is a remarkable leader. He is a communicator of no equal. It will always be difficult for someone to step into his shoes but each chief rabbi brings his own style.”

Praise also came from outside the community. David Gifford of the Council of Christians and Jews said: “The chief rabbi is a statesman of the highest order.”

From Totally

The original article may be found here.

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