Communities in Conversation
A Day of Worldwide Learning in Memory of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks זצ׳׳ל
The second yarhzeit (the anniversary of a person’s passing) of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks זצ׳׳ל will be held on 13th-14th November 2022 (Hebrew Date: 20th MarCheshvan 5783).
To mark this date, The Rabbi Sacks Legacy Trust invites all interested individuals, families, schools, organisations, learning groups, universities, and communities from around the world to unite by planning an annual day where they can learn and teach some of Rabbi Sacks zt”l’s Torah in his zechut and in his memory.
The 2022 chosen theme is “From Optimism to Hope”, a profound idea often expressed by Rabbi Sacks. Communities and individual groups are welcome to tailor events however they wish – by inviting guest speakers, delving into Rabbi Sacks’ teachings, or utilising the resources we provide. We will support events by listing and promoting them, and providing new resources developed specifically for this day.
Each community and group is unique, and we are excited to hear how each one will choose to embrace this annual day to continue the legacy of Rabbi Sacks, and find fresh inspiration from his beautiful and timeless teachings.
The inaugural Communities in Conversation programme took place in October 2021, with over 150 communities taking part. The high quality and the sheer level of community engagement was a truly moving testament to Rabbi Sacks’ memory, and his global impact.
The Rabbi Sacks Legacy Trust is in the process of gathering additional feedback from all organisers and participants on their events last October, to ensure that this year we can offer even more support and helpful learning resources moving forward. Feedback can be submitted via online surveys which have been created both for organisers and participants.
Please join us again this November, as we learn in the merit of Rabbi Sacks and ensure his voice continues to be heard.
This year we are also launching a separate programme, specifically aimed at young people. If you are a teacher or work in a school and wish to instead learn more about our Global Day of Learning in Schools, please visit https://www.rabbisacks.org/schools/.
Watch the Dvar Torah delivered by Gila Sacks (Rabbi Sacks’ youngest daughter) in October 2021 to launch this new initiative.
Perhaps the most defining feature of my father’s life, one that I don’t think I fully appreciated until after he died, was that he learned, and learned, and continued to learn every single day, until his last. He learned from books, from text, from laws. He learned from history and from world events. But, mainly, he learned from people. He would seek out people to learn from, from every possible path of life. And he would seek out what he could learn from everyone he met.
And he would do this through conversation, through talking and listening. So for him, conversation was a defining and spiritual act, a way of opening ourselves up to something beyond ourselves, of being challenged, the only way we could really become more than we were before. A training, perhaps, for opening ourselves up to God.
In this coming week’s parsha Chayei Sarah, we read the before meeting his future wife for the first time, vayeitse Yitzchak lsuach basader lifnot arev, “Yitzchak had gone out in the field before evening to meditate.”
The Talmud in Brachot commenting on the choice of the word lasuach, usually meaning ‘to talk’ or ‘to converse’, states ein sicha ela tefilah, “There is no conversation without prayer” or, as my father explains it, conversation is a form of prayer.
He writes on this parsha, “Conversation is a prayer, for in true conversation I open myself up to the reality of another person. I enter his or her world. I begin to see things from a perspective, not my own. A genuine human conversation is a preparation for and a microcosmic version of the act of prayer.”
Prayer, the prayer model by Yitzchak specifically, is not monologue, but dialogue. Prayer as sicha, conversation. So it is fitting that through this initiative, Communities in Conversation, all over the world, individuals, communities, and organisations will mark my father’s yahrzeit, not simply from learning from what he wrote, but through conversation, coming together, asking, challenging, listening, and learning from each other.
It means more than I can say to us, his family, that you were helping to carry forward his teaching in this beautiful way. He wrote of Moshe’s death at the end of the Torah, “We will not complete the journey. Therefore, we each must inspire others to continue what we began.” Thank you for continuing the work my father began, and may the work he began be a blessing for all of us.
Last year, for the Communities in Conversation launch, five units of learning were specially produced by The Rabbi Sacks Legacy Trust, and each one included a Rabbi Sacks video as well as multiple sources, and discussion questions to guide participating groups (and individuals) through a particular focus of Rabbi Sacks’ writings. The five chosen themes were: Community, Family, Israel, Jewish Identity, and Religion and Science. New resources for the 2022 programme are currently in the final stages of production, and will be shared here. Register early to be among the first to receive these new resources.
The resources we provide are optional for each group to use on the day, as some communities prefer to book a speaker, or to delve into other teachings from Rabbi Sacks (you may also wish to browse through our video resources, educational material, and full digital archive for more inspiration.) Each community and group is unique, and we are excited to hear how each one will choose to embrace this annual day to continue the legacy of Rabbi Sacks, and find fresh inspiration from his beautiful and timeless teachings.
The new learning resources are currently in the final stages of production and will be added here soon. Register your community to receive more info and and to be among the first to receive the 2022 resources.
13-14 November 2022 – Please Save the Date!
A Note to all Educators and Organisers
Please also include our logo on all your communication materials, uniting your community’s learning with the worldwide initiative of Communities in Conversation.
May the soul of Rabbi Sacks be elevated in merit of the learning we will do in his memory.
If you wish to donate, to support the ongoing work of The Rabbi Sacks Legacy Trust and its mission to ensure Rabbi Sacks’ ideas and teachings continue to inspire our – and future – generations, please click here.