Unser Rabbiner

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Dr. Walter L. Rothschild wurde 1954 in Bradford, England, geboren. Er studierte Religionswissenschaften an der Cambridge University (abgeschlossen 1980 mit dem Magister-Grad) und absolvierte ein Rabbinatsstudium am Leo Baeck College in London (1978–1984), das jeweils ein Studienjahr an der Folkertsma Stichting voor Talmudica in Hilversum, Niederlande, und am Machon Pardes sowie Ulpan Etzion in Israel mit einschloss. Während dieser Zeit war er auch als Religionslehrer tätig. Nachdem Walter Rothschild 1984 seine Semicha („Rabbinerdiplom“) erhalten hatte, betreute er als Rabbiner und Dozent verschiedene jüdische Gemeinden in Leeds, England (1984-1994), Aruba (1997-1998) und Berlin (1998-2000). Auch Or Chadasch in Wien zählte zwischen 1995-1997 zu Walter Rothschilds Gemeinden, welche er jedoch zum großen Bedauern der Mitglieder auf Grund seiner Verpflichtungen in Aruba verlassen musste. Or Chadasch schätzt sich glücklich, Rabbiner Rothschild – welcher nebenbei auch an seiner Dissertation im Bereich Geschichte des Mittleren Osten arbeitet und amtierender Rabbiner für liberale jüdische Gemeinden in Köln, Halle/Saale, Hildesheim und für den Landesverband der Jüdischen Gemeinden Schleswig Holstein ist - zurückgewonnen zu haben...

Rabbiner Rothschild bezeichnet sich selbst als einen überzeugten Juden, welcher den Problemen des Alltags mit Ernsthaftigkeit, aber auch mit Humor und einer Portion Pragmatismus begegnen möchte. Seinem Selbstverständnis als „Pluralistischer Rabbiner“ verdankt er unter anderem seine umfassende Anerkennung und Würdigung seitens orthodoxer und nicht-orthodoxer jüdischer Gemeinden.

Neben seinen Tätigkeiten als Rabbiner ist Walter Rothschild auch Koordinator des Deutschland-Büros des Europäischen Bet Din der „World Union for Progressive Judaism“; Mitglied des Kultusausschusses der jüdischen Gemeinde zu Berlin; Lehrbeauftragter der Evangelischen Fachhochschule in Berlin; sowie der Evangelischen Akademie in Berlin, Brandenburg und Sachsen-Anhalt. Für seine Leistungen für den Interreligiösen Dialog erhielt Rothschild 2005 das Ritterkreuz der Republik Polen. Obwohl er selbst interreligiösen Eheschließungen nicht als Rabbiner beiwohnen würde, betont Rabbiner Rothschild, dass er gerne mit allen Menschen arbeitet, welche ernsthaft und ehrlich interessiert sind.

Ausgewählte Veröffentlichungen

  • Tales of the Chutzper Rebbe, Alef Design, USA, 1996
  • Der Honig und der Stachel, Gütersloher Verlag
  • The Honey and the Sting, Jüdischer Verlag für Gemeindeliteratur (JVFG), London, 2016
  • 99 Fragen zum Judentum, GTB 2001, 3rd. ed. 2002 (also published in Italian)
  • Auf das Leben (rabbinic short stories), Goldmann Verlag (also published in Korean
  • Tales from the Rabbi's Desk, Kulmus Publishing London, 2015 (also Amazon/Kindle)
  • The Bookcase of Sherlock Holmes, (2014, Kindle)
  • Bahnland Israel — a guide to railways in Israel
  • CD: The Minyan Boys Greatest Hits, Vol. 2, Hentrich & Hentrich, Berlin

Rabbi Walter Rothschild at Purim

Rabbiner Walter Rothschild : Purim 2014

Our Rabbi

Rabbi Dr. Walter Rothschild was born in 1954 in Bradford, England. He studied Theology and later Pedagogics at Cambridge University, finishing with an MA in 1980. In the meantime after a teaching position he studied for the rabbinate at Leo Baeck College in London 1978-1984; this included a year studying in the Netherlands (mainly at the Folkertsma Stichtig voor Talmudica in Hilversum) and a year in Israel at Machon Pardes and Ulpan Etzion. During this period he was also active as a religion teacher and officiated at several student pulpits, acted as Coordinator of Progressive Jewish Students Commission (PJSC) and then World Union for Progressive Judaism – Youth Section (WUPJYS) organising international conferences.

Following award of semicha (rabbinic diploma) in 1984 he served the Sinai Synagogue in Leeds until 1994, in addition serving neighbouring communities in Hull and Bradford and establishing one in Sheffield. From 1995-1997 he served Or Chadasch in Vienna, establishing contacts also for the WUPJ in Brno, Bratislava, Graz and Sarajevo; In 1997-8 he served the community in Oranjestad, Aruba (Netherlands Antilles), as their first-ever rabbi establishing new structures and procedures and also writing a History of the Jewish Community of Aruba; he then received a call to become Liberale Gemeinderabbiner in Berlin, 1998-2000. In the following years, as well as serving on the Board and on the Kultusauschuss (Religious Affairs Committee) of the Jewish Community of Berlin, he worked extensively building up small Liberal communities in Germany — including Beth Shalom in Munich, Synagogengemeinde Halle/Saale, Gescher in Freiburg im Breisgau, Gescher LaMassoret in Cologne, also five communities (Kiel, Pinneberg, Ahrensburg, Elmshorn, Bad Segeberg) in Schleswig-Holstein as Landesrabbiner for twelve years till 2015. For much of this period he also acted as Coordinator for the German office of the European Beit Din of the European Union for Progressive Judaism, (organising Batei Din in Berlin, Bad Segeberg, Wuppertal, Bratislava, Crakow, Beograd and Skopje) and for some years also served on the Executive of the Union progressiver Juden Deutschlands (UPJD) — the Union of Progressive Jews in Germany — with responsibility for liturgy and communal development.

During his travels he also found time to write a PhD dissertation for the War Studies/Middle East Studies Department, King's College,. London on Palestine Railways 1945-1948. He has taught for many years a Bible course at the Evangelische Hochschule in Berlin-Zehlendorf, been active in interfaith meetings and seminars all over Germany and has written extensively for the Jüdische Allgemeine Wochenzeitung and hundreds of articles for other publications including Manna, Israel Economist, Jerusalem Post. He has written hundreds of radio talks on various themes for NDR, SFB / RBB and Deutschland Radio. For his work in interfaith relations at Auschwitz he was awared a Knight's Cross by the Polish government. He has founded, edited and published for over twenty years a quarterly magazine Harakevet, covering railways past and present in the Middle East. Several short stories have been published and many more remain to be published, together with a biography of Rabbi Dr. Erich Bienheim, a biography of Landgerichtrat Walter Rothschild (his grandfather) and many historical articles. As light relief he writes lyrics for and performs vocals with Walter Rothschild and the Minyan Boys and with Max Doehlemann performs A Leider-Abend show with texts and songs.

He describes himself as a pragmatic rabbi. Having been raised as a committed Reform Jew in a small provincial congregation where his family was heavily involved has helped him understand the needs, the problems and the potentials of similar communities — which are often isolated, small, vulnerable, in need of outside assistance in programming and content and learning materials that incorporate humour and feeling as well as dry facts. This enables him to take a fairly wide, tolerant and pluralistic attitude to many — but certainly not to all — forms of Jewish observance in the modern world, whilst at the same time working to maintain certain traditional standards. He is happy to work with anyone who is serious and sincere in their desire to learn.

Publications include:

  • Tales of the Chutzper Rebbe, Alef Design, USA, 1996
  • Der Honig und der Stachel, Gütersloher Verlag
  • The Honey and the Sting, Jüdischer Verlag für Gemeindeliteratur (JVFG), London, 2016
  • 99 Fragen zum Judentum, GTB 2001, 3rd. ed. 2002 (also published in Italian)
  • Auf das Leben (rabbinic short stories), Goldmann Verlag (also published in Korean
  • Tales from the Rabbi's Desk, Kulmus Publishing London, 2015 (also Amazon/Kindle)
  • The Bookcase of Sherlock Holmes, (2014, Kindle)
  • Bahnland Israel — a guide to railways in Israel
  • CD: The Minyan Boys Greatest Hits, Vol. 2, Hentrich & Hentrich, Berlin