"Warmest human spirit": UK's former chief rabbi Sacks dies

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LONDON (AP) — Jonathan Sacks, the former chief rabbi in the U.K. who reached beyond the Jewish community with his regular broadcasts on radio, has died at 72.

A statement on his Twitter page said he died early Saturday.

Sacks served as the chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, the figurehead of British Jews, for 22 years, stepping down in 2013.

He was succeeded by the current chief rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, who said the world had lost an “intellectual giant who had a transformative global impact."

For many people in the U.K., Sacks was best known for his regular broadcasts on the “Thought of the Day” fixture on BBC Radio 4's “Today” program, the network's flagship morning news program.

Mohit Bakaya, the controller of the radio channel, said Sacks was a man of "great intellect, humanity and warmth," whose contributions to the “Thought of the Day” segment were “some of the most erudite.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson joined in the tributes to Sacks, saying his leadership had a “profound impact on our whole country and across the world.”

Tony Blair, who was prime minister for much of the time that Sacks was chief rabbi, described him as “a man of huge intellectual stature but with the warmest human spirit."