Sir Isaiah Berlin Lectures

Sir Isaiah Berlin’s connection with the Hampstead Synagogue was deeply felt and long lasting. His family’s membership had commenced when his parents joined in the 1920’s and he made regular annual visits from Oxford to the Synagogue for the Yom Kippur services.


The Synagogue valued very highly this affiliation and therefore, the Synagogue was the natural setting for the most dignified and moving memorial service held when Sir Isaiah passed on. The service was conducted by Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks in the presence of a packed Synagogue. Those present heard a moving tribute from Lord Annan and music appreciated by Sir Isaiah was played by, amongst others, Isaac Stern and Alfred Brendel.


It was against this background that it was decided that it was fitting for Sir Isaiah’s association with the Synagogue to be celebrated by a more lasting memorial and Lady Berlin and the members of his family agreed to the Synagogue organising an annual lecture to be given in his memory. Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks gave the first lecture and, as the below list shows, he has been followed annually by speakers of great distinction.


2021    Baroness Hale of Richmond – “Is there anything wrong with rights?”

2020    Professor Philippe Sands QC – “East and West, to the Ratline, and Beyond: On Memory and Identity.”

2019    Rt. Hon. Gordon Brown – “The Challenges of a Fast Changing Global Society.”

2018   Professor Margaret MacMillan – “A Century Later: Does the Great War Matter in the Present?”

2017   Ambassador Daniel Taub – “100 years on: Lessons from the Balfour Declaration.”

2016   Lord Daniel Finkelstein OBE – “Does history have an arrow? (And if it does where is it pointing?)”

2015   Sir Brian Leveson – “The balance between security and open justice.”

2014   Professor Deborah Lipstadt – “Remembrance in the 21st Century: How will we remember when everyone who has something to remember is gone?”

2013   Lord Woolf – “Conflict or Co-existence? Interfaith Relations and the Rule of Law.”

2012   Professor Simon Schama – “Egypt and Israel: Two Kinds of Home.”

2011   Professor Vernon Bogdanor – “The Stop Marked Independence: Self-Determination and the Rights of Minorities.”

2010   Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams – “Faith and Enlightenment: Friends or Foes?”

2009   Efraim Halevy – “Diplomacy and intelligence in the Middle East: How and why are the two inexorably intertwined?”

2008   Baroness Helena Kennedy QC – “Law – the first pillar.”

2007   Trevor Phillips – “Keeping the Faith – Integration in 21st century Britain.”

2006   Nick Cohen – “What’s Left?: How Liberals Lost Their Way.”

2005   Sir Martin Gilbert – “Churchill and Parliamentary Democracy.”

2004   Lord Leon Brittan – “Europe: Past, Present and Future.”

2003   Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks – “The Politics of Freedom.”