European Jewish Congress
Interfaith innovator Sigmund Sternberg passes away
Hungary
Interfaith innovator Sigmund Sternberg passes away

Tributes have been paid to one of the world’s leading pioneers of interfaith relations, Sir Sigmund Sternberg, after he passed away at the age of 95.

Hungary-born Sir Sigmund co-founded Britain’s Three Faiths Forum in 1997 well before the explosion in activity to bring faiths together in this country, and was also considered one of the fathers of Anglo-Jewry partly as a result his “transformational” work with Reform Judaism.

But it is probably his work in improving strained relations between the Jewish community and the Catholic Church that he will be most remembered for around the globe. He played a central role in efforts to remove a Carmelite convent established at Auschwitz and in the very first visit by a Pope to a synagogue – by Pope John Paul II – that has become a regular feature of subsequent papacies.

Sir Sigmund – who fled Nazi-occupied Europe to the UK in 1939 – made his money in the metals industry before focusing on his interfaith and other charitable work in later life.

Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, the UK’s Senior Rabbi to Reform Judaism said: “The entire Reform Jewish community of the United Kingdom mourns on the sad news of the death of Sir Sigmund Sternberg KC*SG. Sir Sigmund’s contribution to Reform Judaism was transformational. He dedicated a great part of his life to serving the Jewish community and the vital cause of dialogue and interfaith relations around the world. We are grateful for his enormous generosity and inspirational leadership. May his memory be a blessing”.

Board of Deputies president Jonathan Arkush said: “Sir Sigmund Sternberg was one of our community’s most tireless workers and generous benefactors. His association with the Board of Deputies went back many years and his support has been invaluable. His work in for the Council of Christians and Jews and later the Three Faiths Forum energised interfaith activity in the UK while the Sternberg Centre for Judaism that he established will stand as a lasting legacy to his vision. His energy, enthusiasm, talent for organisation and massive charitable efforts will be sorely missed.”

Sternberg was awarded a knighthood by the Queen in 1976 and became a papal knight nine years later – the very first to receive the accolade and one of around half a dozen in total. He was also a recipient of the Templeton Prize.

Click here to read the full article in Jewish News

Thursday, October 20, 2016
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