The Home We Build Togeth­er: Recre­at­ing Society

Jonathan Sacks
  • Review
By – March 5, 2012

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?”

William Liss-Levin­son is vice pres­i­dent, chief strat­e­gy & oper­a­tions offi­cer of Cas­tle Con­nol­ly Med­ical Ltd., a con­sumer health research, infor­ma­tion, and pub­lish­ing com­pa­ny. He holds a Ph.D. in edu­ca­tion and is a mem­ber of the board of direc­tors of the Jew­ish Book Council.

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