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The Big Read

In addition to being a prolific and thoughtful writer and teacher Rabbi Sacks served as the Chief Rabbi of England for many years. If I were to choose the most well-known public intellectual who speaks and write about all things Jewish, Rabbi Sacks is the one. Sadly, he died last year at the early age of 72. The Jewish people lost a great light — I can only dream of the many books he would have written that we will never get to read.

This book, published in the year 2000, is Sacks’ letter to his eldest son and daughter-in-law on the occasion of their wedding, describing his personal Jewish journey. In it he seeks to respond to a younger generation that wants to know, “Why be Jewish?” Specifically, he addresses three questions: “Who am I?”, “Who are we?”, and “How did we lose our way?”

Rabbi Sacks was a brilliant thinker and a gifted writer. He tackles timeless questions in accessible prose without ever “dumbing his subject matter down.” Rabbi Sacks holds degrees from Cambridge and Oxford in philosophy. He served as Chief Rabbi of England from 1991-2013, and he was the author of 33 books.

It is always a challenge for me to choose the Big Read book and a number of books compete on my shelf for weeks on end for the honor.  In the end, I chose this one this year, both to honor Rabbi Sacks’ memory and because I think it speaks to all of us. Many of us, I think, feel proud of being Jewish and consider it absolutely essential to who we are; at the same, I think, many of us struggle to articulate why it matters. I believe that that is a question we need to be able to answer if we are to succeed in bequeathing our tradition to the next generation.

There will be book groups before the holidays so that you can join your fellow congregants in more intimate discussions. Stay tuned!

As always, looking forward to being on the same proverbial page with all of you, and celebrating another high holidays together.

Rabbi Shapiro


Mon, September 27 2021 21 Tishrei 5782