21 October 2018 - 13 Heshvan 5779 - י"ג חשון ה' אלפים תשע"ט
Outgoing Chief Rabbi visits Hong Kong for the last time with fond memories Print E-mail

Chief Rabbi of the UK and Commonwealth, Lord Jonathan Sacks and his wife Lady Elaine visited Hong Kong in mid-January for what is likely to be their final trip to the city before he retires from his role in September this year.

The Chief Rabbi has visited Hong Kong many times over the past fifteen years, his last visit being just last September. Before this current visit, his office specifically contacted Jewish Times Asia requesting an interview. We were particularly keen to take this opportunity to capture Lord Sacks’ feelings and memories of the Hong Kong Jewish Community and to see how he has observed the changes over the years.

Lord Sacks initially became involved with the Jewish Community of Hong Kong at the time of the restoration of the Ohel Leah Synagogue and the building of the Jewish Community Centre (JCC). The community looked to him for leadership during this time and he of course flew to Hong Kong for the opening of the JCC which he described as “sensational.”

He was also in Hong Kong for the completion of a new Sefer Torah and describes how he wanted this to be an event for the children rather than a traditional formal event. The memory of all the children and other community members dancing with the Sefer Torah from the JCC into the synagogue remains one of his Hong Kong highlights.

Looking to the future of the Hong Kong Jewish Community, the Chief Rabbi can only envisage success. He cannot speak highly enough of how hospitable they are to visitors from all over the world and that he sees Hong Kong as being in a unique strategic location. He firmly feels that the 21st century is going to be the “Asian Century” and with Hong Kong being a key city in Asia, the Jewish community is well placed to go from strength to strength.

Education has always been one of the major points of focus for the Chief Rabbi and he often declares that one of his most important achievements during his time in the role is that he has overseen more new Jewish schools being built in the UK in the past 20 years than at any other time in Anglo-Jewish history. When he first took on his role, 25% of Jewish children in Britain attended a Jewish school, now this figure is closer to 70%.

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