Communities in Conversation
Welcome to Communities in Conversation, an annual day of learning in memory of Rabbi Sacks, to mark his yahrzeit.
13-14 November 2022
“Judaism is the ongoing conversation of the Jewish people with itself, with Heaven, and with the world. It is a conversation scored for many voices.”
– Rabbi Sacks
Communities in Conversation is a global day of learning in memory of Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks zt”l, marking his yahrzeit annually. The inaugural programme took place in 2021, with over 150 communities taking part. Please join us again this year, on 13-14 November, as we learn and teach from his Torah, and remember Rabbi Sacks’ impact on the Jewish world and beyond.
The 2022 chosen theme is “From Optimism to Hope”, a profound idea often expressed by Rabbi Sacks. Communities, groups, and individuals are invited to plan 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.
Additional resources, translations, and more info can be found at the bottom of this page.
This year we are also launching the Rabbi Sacks Global Day of Learning for Schools.
View a special message from Gila Sacks (Rabbi Sacks’ youngest daughter) recorded for the first Communities in Conversation in 2021:
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 that 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 tefillah, “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.
Register now to be part of this inspirational global initiative.
13 – 14 November 2022
The New 2022 Learning Resources
From Optimism to Hope is a theme that Rabbi Sacks often returned to. We have prepared these pages for you to enhance your understanding of this idea, with the use of videos, articles, and biblical extracts, as well as quotes from Rabbi Sacks, and discussion questions.
Five Additional Themed Learning Resources
Learning resources from the 2021 Yahrzeit.
This unit explores the idea of community within Judaism. What strengthens and supports a community? With excerpts, quotes, and discussion questions, it delves into Rabbi Sacks’ belief in the fundamental importance of community.
This resource delves into many aspects of the Jewish family, from our biblical forefathers, to marriage, parents, grandparents and siblings, we will learn of the impact of family Jewish history and civilisation, as well as encourage discussions on family values today.
This unit guides us through Israel as a biblical promise from God to the forefathers, as the land of hope, and through its full significance today. With videos, discussion points, and even some ancient prophecies to discuss, through the perspective of Rabbi Sacks.
“A Letter in the Scroll…” This unit explores the notion of Jewish identity, both individually and nationally, using texts from Rabbi Sacks to develop an understanding of this important theme.
“Scientific knowledge doesn’t contradict religious belief…” This unit focuses on explaining the coexistence of these two truths, despite their apparent contradictions.