I had an hour and a half interview with Rabbi Jonathan Sacks in 2014.
As he responded to my questions, the editor in me marveled. His prose was poetry; there would be nothing to edit. There wasn’t. I asked him how a rabbi can make God personal to people.
Here’s what he said:
“My father had to leave school at fourteen and sell shmattes on Commercial Road, our equivalent of the Lower East Side in New York. They never had an education, but we saw from our parents how they loved Yiddishkeit; it made them walk taller.
“I don’t know if my father could even understand all the davening, but he knew who he was. And I had the biggest privilege in my life seeing him walk on crutches up the steps of the S. John’s Wood Shul to open the Ark at my induction as chief rabbi.
“And I thought: ‘Dad, I love you. You never had the education that I had, but you made sure I had the education you didn’t have. I hope I gave you a little pride, but I want you to know that I learned emunah [faith] from you. You taught me what it is to have a personal relationship with Hakadosh Baruch Hu.’
“And when you do that, you can communicate it to anyone, but first you have to feel it.”