Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks to deliver Fairfield University’s Carl and Dorothy Bennett Lecture in Judaic Studies


Media Contact: Teddy DeRosa, tderosa@fairfield.edu, 203-254-4000 ext. 2118

Described by H.R.H. The Prince of Wales as “a light unto this nation,” and by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair as “an intellectual giant,” Rabbi Sacks served as Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth between September 1991 and September 2013, only the sixth incumbent since the role was formalized in 1845.

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (April 14, 2016) — On Monday, April 18, 2016 at 7:30 p.m., the globally prominent religious thinker and leader Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks will explore the roots of violence and its relationship to religion when he delivers Fairfield University’s Carl and Dorothy Bennett Lecture in Judaic Studies. Free and open to the public, the event will take place at the Quick Center for the Arts.

Described by H.R.H. The Prince of Wales as “a light unto this nation,” and by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair as “an intellectual giant,” Rabbi Sacks served as Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth between September 1991 and September 2013, only the sixth incumbent since the role was formalized in 1845. He is the winner of the 2016 Templeton Prize, a prestigious international honor awarded to a living person who, in the estimation of the judges, "has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life's spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works."

Rabbi Sacks’ lecture is entitled, “Not in God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence,” based on his recent book of the same name for which he received a 2015 National Jewish Book Award. In his talk, he will focus on the historic tensions between the three Abrahamic faiths — Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Drawing on arguments from evolutionary psychology, game theory, history, philosophy, ethics and theology, Rabbi Sacks will show how a tendency to violence can subvert even the most compassionate of religions. Through a close reading of key biblical texts at the heart of the Abrahamic faiths, Sacks will challenge those who claim that religion is intrinsically a cause of violence, and argues that theology must become part of the solution if it is not to remain at the heart of the problem.

“This lecture, just as in my recent book, will be a rebuke to all those who kill in the name of the God of life, wage war in the name of the God of peace, hate in the name of the God of love, and practice cruelty in the name of the God of compassion,” said Rabbi Sacks. “For the sake of humanity and the free world, the time has come for people of all faiths and none to stand together and declare: Not in God’s Name.”

Rabbi Sacks is the Ingeborg and Ira Rennert Global Distinguished Professor of Judaic Thought at New York University, and the Kressel and Ephrat Family University Professor of Jewish Thought at Yeshiva University. He is also Professor of Law, Ethics and the Bible at King’s College London.

In recognition of his work, Rabbi Sacks won the Jerusalem Prize in 1995 for his contribution to diaspora Jewish life and The Ladislaus Laszt Ecumenical and Social Concern Award from Ben Gurion University in Israel in 2011. He was named as The Becket Fund’s 2014 Canterbury Medalist for his role in the defense of religious liberty in the public square. He was knighted by Her Majesty The Queen in 2005 and made a Life Peer, taking his seat in the House of Lords in October 2009.

He is a frequent contributor to radio, television and the press around the world. He holds 16 honorary degrees, including a Doctor of Divinity conferred to mark his first ten years in office as Chief Rabbi, by the then Archbishop of Canterbury.

The author of more than 25 books, Rabbi Sacks has published commentaries to the daily Jewish prayer book and to date has completed commentaries to the Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Passover festival prayer books.

The lecture is made possible through the generosity of Carl Bennett. The lecture has brought renowned speakers to the University, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel. Reservations are requested. Please call the Bennett Center for Judaic Studies at 203-254-4000, ext. 2066 or bennettcenter@fairfield.edu.

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Vol. 48, No. 121

Fairfield University is a Jesuit University, rooted in one of the world’s oldest intellectual and spiritual traditions. More than 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students from 36 states, 47 foreign countries, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico are enrolled in the University’s five schools. In the spirit of rigorous and sympathetic inquiry into all dimensions of human experience, Fairfield welcomes students from diverse backgrounds to share ideas and engage in open conversations. The University is located in the heart of a region where the future takes shape, on a stunning campus on the Connecticut coast just an hour from New York City.

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Posted on April 15, 2016

Vol. 48, No. 121

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