Good evening to everyone, my name is Pina Templeton and I am the wife of Jack Templeton, my husband, and my best friend. On behalf of the John Templeton Foundation, my late husband Dr. Jack Templeton, and my late father-in-law Sir John Templeton, I extend to all of you gathered here at Central Hall Westminster, and to everyone who will be watching online, a very warm welcome to the 2016 Templeton Prize Ceremony.
It is a great joy and privilege for my daughters, our cousins Templeton as well as our Foundation to be joined by all of you here tonight as we honor the 2016 Templeton Prize Laureate, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. He is the 46th Laureate since Sir John created the annual prize in 1972.
To understand why Sir John founded the prize we must first understand who was Sir John. For many, he was a close friend and neighbor; for others he was the world investment genius; to his children he was a loving and attentive father, for his grandchildren he was the grandfather, who although very busy always had time to listen and give wise advice, especially where matters of the heart were concerned. To me he was “Papa,” my second father, who would often introduce me as his daughter, confusing everyone. You can see why when Sir John died, for me was like losing my father all over again.
For Sir John, the Prize was part of his quest for spirituality, the prize was the result of his belief that the pursuit of the spiritual is one of the most important yet neglected disciplines. He wanted the Templeton Prize to foster that pursuit through the discovery of the limitless potential of the Spirit.
The essence of this vision he summarized as Spiritual Progress. Sir John envisioned that the Prize would identify “entrepreneurs of the spirit.” Those who devote their talents to expanding our vision of the intangible and deeper realities of human purpose and ultimate reality.
Indeed, Sir John’s words that were so often emphasized by my husband Jack help explain Sir John’s vision for the Prize:
“No person may even know one percent of the infinite creative spirit. To learn anything, we must first become humble and rid ourselves of the egotistical idea that we already know everything about God.”
The John Templeton Foundation stresses that questions – when framed in humility – create an open mind, which makes it possible for us to learn. From such a passion for learning, he saw the possibility of new glimpses of a larger and timeless Truth which is beautifully summarized in the motto of the Foundation: “How little we know how eager to learn.”
And now I would ask your permission to tell you one tidbit story. I would like to tell you of the heart Rabbi Sacks’, his kindness, his humility and his willingness always to help. Jack and I first met Rabbi Sacks when Sir Sigmund Sternberg decided we should meet Rabbi Sacks. And if any of you knew Sir Sigmund, if he decided that you should meet someone, you’d best meet that person. For Jack it was an instant friendship. Jack admired the Rabbi’s wisdom so much that we began to buy as many of his books as we could find, which then became the basis for many of Jack’s speeches. In our home we have had for some time the Rabbi Sacks bookshelf which is a very long bookshelf. It was then only natural that when Jack funded a lecture in his father’s name that Rabbi Sacks would be one of the first speakers. As busy as Rabbi Sacks was and is, he accepted the invitation.
What the Rabbi may not know is that for the lecture we had to change venue three times because we kept running out of space, there were so many subscribers, everyone wanted to hear the Rabbi’s lecture. Something that had never happened before, we were not accustomed to it, and it has not happened since.
We were then told that we were to make sure that Rabbi Sacks and Mrs. Sacks would enjoy their morning. The decision was made to visit Philadelphia by way of the old fashioned trolley. Well, because of Rabbi Sacks’ stature we availed ourselves of what would then become a private trolley, a wonderful guide by the name of Henry was to show us the sites, while the city of Philadelphia provided us with four plainclothes detectives for the safety of Rabbi Sacks and Mrs. Sacks. Two detectives were with us in the trolley and the other two followed us in an unmarked car.
Rabbi Sacks really enjoyed his ride and at the conclusion of the tour, he told us that he had not been on public transportation in many years and it had really been fun. I chuckled to myself but said nothing — well, that had not really been public transportation. Not with the help we had, that was special transportation.
The day concluded with Rabbi Sacks delivering his remarks to a very attentive audience who at the end of the lecture, rose giving Rabbi Sacks a well-deserved very thunderous applause.
This ladies and gentlemen is one aspect of Rabbi Sacks’ heart: always to be there, always with his wisdom, always with his humility.