This week, as the world commemorates the first yahrzeit Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks zt”l, Emeritus Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of Great Britain and the Commonwealth, Dr. Ari Berman, President of Yeshiva University, announced the creation of the Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks Center for Values and Leadership founded by Terri and Andrew Herenstein.
The Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks Center for Values and Leadership (the Sacks-Herenstein Center) will be dedicated to the dissemination of Rabbi Sacks’ leadership lessons and values in classrooms across communities and through public discussion.
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.
Through a series of academic, communal, educational and literary initiatives, the Sacks-Herenstein Center will cultivate values-based Jewish thought and training opportunities. The Center will seek to identify emerging talent and help those currently in, or aspiring towards, positions of communal authority and impact with a strong moral voice informed by Jewish values and texts. Graduates of its programs will lead in classrooms, boardrooms, bookshelves and on social media platforms.
“Yeshiva University is guided by our Core Torah Values and our mission is to inspire the leaders of tomorrow,” Dr. Berman said. “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.”
“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,” Dr. Berman continued. “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.”
“We are excited to partner in this deeply impactful project,” Terri Herenstein said. “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.”
“When Dr. Berman mentioned the possibility of creating a lasting legacy to Rabbi Sacks at YU, a lightning bolt struck,” added Andrew Herenstein. “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.”
Rabbi Sacks consistently championed the importance of Yeshiva University and its students for the future of the Jewish people. At a YU convocation in 1997, Rabbi Sacks stated, “I believe today the Jewish people are suffering from a lesion which has broken the connection between the left and right hemispheres of the Jewish people. And there is only one group of people who can help to heal that fracture, and that is you – the graduates of Yeshiva University – because you, almost alone in today’s Jewish world, have learned to combine Torah and chochma, to integrate Yeshiva and University.”
Rabbi Sacks’ deep identification with Yeshiva University expressed itself in many ways across multiple decades. 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.
“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,” said Lady Elaine Sacks. “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. 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.”