Former U.K. Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks Receives Prestigious Award

Previous recipients of Templeton Prize, awarded for contributions to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, include Mother Theresa, Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama.

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.
Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. Reuters

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, the former Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom from 1991 to 2013, has been awarded the prestigious Templeton Prize for 2016.

Valued at £1.1 million (about $1.5 million) the annual Templeton Prize honors a living person who has made exceptional contributions to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery or practical works.

The announcement of the award was made Wednesday. Sacks, 67, will be formally awarded the prize at a ceremony in London on May 26.

The prize is named after Sir John Templeton, an investor and philanthropist who sought to foster and recognize spiritual progress.

“After 9/11, Rabbi Sacks saw the need for a response to the challenge posed by radicalization and extremism and he did so with dignity and grace,” said Jennifer Simpson, chairperson of the fund's board of trustees.

“He saw the need for the strengthening of ethics in the marketplace long before the financial crisis. He has always been ahead of his time and, thanks to his leadership, the world can look to the future with hope, something we are very much in need of right now.”

Sacks joins a distinguished group of 45 former recipients of the prize, including Mother Teresa, who received the inaugural Prize award in 1973, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1983,) former archbishop Desmond Tutu (2013) the Dalai Lama (2012).

Rabbi Sacks was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2005 and awarded a Life Peerage in the British House of Lords in 2009. He has been married to the former Elaine Taylor since 1970. They have three children and eight grandchildren.