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Photo: Matty Stern/US Embassy Tel Aviv
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks (L) and VP Pence
Photo: Matty Stern/US Embassy Tel Aviv
Portion of VP Pence's speech penned by former UK chief rabbi
Former chief rabbi of the UK and one of the preeminent religious Jewish philosophers in the world, Lord Dr. Jonathan Sacks, met with VP Pence in November for 90 minutes to help flesh out 'biblical, spiritual aspects' of Pence's planned speech before the Knesset; Pence reportedly also consulted with Sacks on the Jewish people's ties to Israel.

Lord Dr. Jonathan Sacks, former chief rabbi of Britain, wrote significant portions of US Vice President Mike Pence's speech in the Knesset, especially its biblical imagery, Rabbi Sacks's office confirmed to Ynet Wednesday. Pence gave the speech Monday during his visit to Israel.

 

 

While Pence's speech in Israel's parliament may be better remembered for the fracas that preceded it, it will also be known for its constitutive statements recognizing the linkage between the people of Israel and the land of Israel.

 

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks helped write portions of VP Pence's speech in the Knesset (Photo: Matty Stern/US Embassy Tel Aviv)
Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks helped write portions of VP Pence's speech in the Knesset (Photo: Matty Stern/US Embassy Tel Aviv)

 

It has now become known those parts of the speech were penned by Sacks, the former chief rabbi of the United Kingdom, considered a preeminent religious philosopher whose books have been translated to numerous languages, including Hebrew.

 

"Vice President Pence initiated contact with Rabbi Sacks, since he was interested in strengthening the spiritual and biblical aspects of his speech," a source close to the member of the British House of Lords said, adding Pence asked to consult the rabbi on the ties between Jews and their country.

 

'An enormous contribution to the Jewish people'

Following Pence's overtures, a private 90-minute meeting between the vice president and the rabbi was held this past November, purportedly in preparation for the former's impending visit to Israel, which was postponed several times.

 

The talk touched on parts of Pence's planned speech, specifically the portions pertaining to Jews' ties to Israel and its biblical aspects, with which the vice president's final speech was resplendent.

 

"In the story of the Jews, we've always seen the story of America," Pence said in his speech. "It is the story of an exodus, a journey from persecution to freedom, a story that shows the power of faith and the promise of hope."

 

Pence's speech included many biblical allusions (Photo: Amil Salman)
Pence's speech included many biblical allusions (Photo: Amil Salman)

 

"The Jewish people held on to the promise (of coming back to Israel—ed), and they held onto it through the longest and darkest of nights," Pence added.

 

"This April, we will mark the day when the Jewish people answered that ancient question—'Can a country be born in a day, can a nation be born in a moment?'—as the State of Israel celebrates the 70th anniversary of its birth," the vice president said to a chorus of applause from the assembled crowd.

 

At the conclusion of his speech, Pence recited the Shehecheyanu blessing, uttered by Jews to celebrate special occasions.

 

Rabbi Sacks's office, however, did wish it to be known he was not involved in the portions of the speech relating to political matters. "As a religious leader and thinker whose stock-in-trade are things relating to faith and interreligious links, the rabbi is conscious of staying out of politics," his office said.

 

Pence concluded his visit to Israel by visiting the Western Wall (Photo: EPA)
Pence concluded his visit to Israel by visiting the Western Wall (Photo: EPA)

 

"The rabbi considers it an enormous contribution to the Jewish people that a persona of the American vice president's magnitude contacted a religious-Jewish source for guidance on such matters," Sacks's office concluded.

 

Pence inaugurated his two-day visit to Israel in the Knesset on Monday, where he gave the aforementioned speech. He concluded it the following day by visiting the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem and then the Kotel.

 


First published: 01.24.18, 23:39
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