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  • Writer's pictureRabbi Dr. Benji Levy

5 Inspiring Quotes on Education by Rav Sacks zt”l

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks zt”l was a world-renowned educator. His teachings reached millions of people around the globe and changed countless lives. While Rabbi Sacks taught us about Jewish texts, philosophy, morality, science and technology, he also taught us volumes about the value of education itself. On International Day of Education, here is a selection of Rabbi Sacks’ most inspirational quotes on education from which we can all learn:

1. On how to educate a child:

“Education means teaching a child to be curious, to wonder, to reflect, to enquire. The child who asks becomes a partner in the learning process, an active recipient. To ask is to grow. ” (Jonathan Sacks Haggadah, p106, HarperCollins Publishers)

2. On the role of a teacher:

“Teachers open our eyes to the world. They give us curiosity and confidence. They teach us to ask questions. They connect us to our past and future. They’re the guardians of our social heritage. We have lots of heroes today – sportsmen, supermodels, media personalities. They come, they have their fifteen minutes of fame, and they go. But the influence of good teachers stays with us. They are the people who really shape our life.” (From Optimism to Hope p. 132)

3. On the importance of schools:

“I received an invitation to lunch with the Prime Minister. At the same time, I received an invitation to take part in the opening ceremony of a new Jewish school in London. Both events were on the same day, at roughly the same time. I could not attend both. Which took precedence?… Governments sustain society, but education sustains the world. On that occasion, I regretfully declined the Prime Minister’s invitation and opened the school.” (Will we have Jewish Grandchildren? p. 52)

4. On Jewish education:

“To defend a country, you need an army. But to defend an identity, you need a school. Judaism is the religion of the book, not the sword.” (Radical Then, Radical Now p. 156)

5. On Jewish education throughout history:

“Throughout the centuries, when the vast majority of Europe was illiterate, Jews maintained an educational infrastructure as their highest priority. It is no exaggeration to say that this lay at the heart of the Jewish ability to survive catastrophe, negotiate change and flourish in difficult circumstances.” (The Dignity of Difference p. 139)

Ultimately Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks zt”l was an educator whose greatest gift was to inspire other educators to continue his legacy. While his own voice is sorely missed, his teachings continue to inspire.

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