In this extraordinary book Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of Britain and the Commonwealth, continues to articulate his vision for how we all must work to make this a better world. In a dazzling display of erudition, quoting sources spanning millennia in the fields of philosophy, theology, religion, history, political science, sociology, social psychology— and utilizing the Tanach as political text — Sacks has remarkably created a book which is simultaneously not at all a “Jewish book” and yet could be nothing but a passionate expression of Jewish tradition.
The challenge as Sacks puts it, to which he applies his insightful and cogent analyses of British and America society in particular, as well as the global scene in general, is “…How do you construct a society that respects cultural and religious diversity while at the same time promoting civic equality, social cohesion and a sense of the common good?” Sacks stresses the covenantal nature of society, one in which mutual respect for the basic humanity of all people motivates us to realize that through giving and caring to achieve a common good that involves care and concern for others, we create a mutual sense of belonging. In promulgating his concept of integration without assimilation, and through poignant examples of people working together — literally — side by side — Sacks points the ways for communities, peoples, faiths, and even countries to achieve conflict resolution. A pragmatist first and foremost, he nonetheless challenges us to choose to be better people, better members of communities and society, and thus to merit the gift of life in this world that God has bestowed upon us. Who should read this book? The more difficult question to answer is “Who should not read this book?”