Ten Years of Cantorial Training at Abraham Geiger College; screen capture: https://www.abraham-geiger-kolleg.de

Excerpted from “Jewish Europe Today. Between Memory and Everyday Life” edited by Marcelo Dimentstein and Ewa Tartakowsky. Copyright © 2020 by Austeria Publishing House. Reprinted by permission. (see book introduction post here.)

By Sandra Anusiewicz-Baer

Introduction

David Golinkin, president of the Schechter Institutes, which include the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary in Jerusalem, writes in his visionary article, “The Ideal Rabbi Today” about ten ultimate characteristics a rabbi in our day should embody.1 A glance at these characteristics makes it clear that the rabbinate has undergone massive changes, a fact that Golinkin declares at the beginning of his article by saying: “The rabbinate and even the term rabbi have changed constantly during the last two millennia.”2 The changing standards and expectations influenced rabbinical training, and in turn rabbis themselves become “agents of change,”3 shaping Jewish contemporary life.

Nowadays, Germany has three ordaining rabbinical seminaries. As part of the established institutional Jewish life, they stand for one aspect of Jewish life in the country. There are now also many grassroots’ groups and initiatives that developed outside the official organizations representing Jewish life in Germany. The question this article asks is how these rabbinical training institutions shape the image of the rabbi today. It aims to show the development of the three rabbinical seminaries in modern day Germany, the underlying reasons for the founding of these schools and the challenges they face. In my conclusion, I will address how the relation between Germans and Jews is reflected in the experience of the rabbinical seminaries.

Let me begin with a short empirical anecdote about the situation of Jewish communities and their rabbis in present-day Germany. This story takes place in a middle-size town with a middle-size Jewish community.

When the congregation in question hired a new rabbi, a young Orthodox rabbi, one of the so called “Kontingentflüchtlinge” (quota refugees – Russian speaking Jewish emigrants who were granted asylum by the German government), he was surprised to see women sitting downstairs and not up on the balcony at his first Shabbat service. Men and women were still separated: men sat at the front, women sat at the back. The rabbi, however, followed his convictions and kindly asked the women to move to the balcony. There was an elevator in the building but it could not be used on Shabbat. When one of the old Russian ladies who came to service every Shabbat took her regular seat in the next to last row she was told to go upstairs. She explained she had difficulties walking and asked to use the elevator. The answer was no that would be a violation of Shabbat. The decision to have women relegated to the balcony without an elevator to use led this Russian woman to stop attending services.

This story illustrates the difficulties of reestablishing Jewish congregational life in Germany: Community members who are willing to attend and to honor Jewish traditions coupled with their idea of what seems convenient, in this case using an elevator on Shabbat conflicted with the rabbi’s different interpretation of Jewish law and lack of understanding for the specific character of his new workplace.

What we also see is the unique German model of the so called “Einheitsgemeinde,” a single congregation embracing all denominations. In our special example the congregation hired an Orthodox rabbi who succeeded the Reform rabbi who had served before in the aforementioned congregation. The congregation evidently lacked clarity as to its own religious identity and the rabbi lacked a crucial sensitivity as to the nature of his new congregation.

In order to understand in what context the rabbis in Germany operate, let me go back to the beginnings of the modern rabbinate and a short description of the specific German-Jewish landscape.

Historic background

The history of the modern rabbinate: From yeshiva to seminary

The Haskalah, the Jewish Enlightenment movement that began in the German speaking region, spread to the whole Jewish world. This development is associated with the name Moses Mendelssohn, a Jewish philosopher who lived in Berlin in the 18th century. In the course of the Haskalah, attempts were made to reform the Jewish educational system and eventually led to changes in the status of the rabbinate. Haim Gertner explains:

Maskilic activists criticized the institution, the traditional conception of the rabbi’s function, the methodology of rabbinic study, and the process of ordination. They wanted to appoint rabbis who had a European education, espoused modern ideological positions, and would make a positive impression on the authorities.4

There were three rabbis who were significant in promoting these changes: Zacharias Frankel, Abraham Geiger and Esriel Hildesheimer. It was these men who tried to find new interpretations of their Jewish faith and modes of living, and who were eventually to found three different rabbinical schools, thus, changing religious education dramatically. Demands to change the rabbinate, however, did not only come from within the Jewish community, but were also fostered by the gentile authorities who wished to gain more control over the Jewish communities and their constituency. If Jews wanted to become fully fledged citizens and enjoy equal rights, then the far reaching authority and autonomy of the rabbi for jurisdiction was to be reduced. In that process, the rabbi was limited to being a so called “Kauscherwächter,” a rather pejorative term meaning to merely oversee the laws of Kashrut (Jewish dietary laws).

The need to reconcile the different demands and answer the political, social-religious and ideological trends resulted in the establishment of the Jewish-Theological Seminary in Breslau in 1854. Rabbi Zacharais Frankel (1801–1875), born and raised in Prague, became the founding director of that institution. He was the first rabbi in central Europe with a university degree and the first one to deliver his sermons in German.5 The Seminary established the so called positive-historical Judaism, which continues mainly as conservative or Masorti Judaism in the United States today. The founding of the Higher Institution for the Science of Judaism (Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums) in Berlin, the institution of the Reform Jews under the chairmanship of Abraham Geiger followed in 1872. Only one year later, in 1873 the Neo-Orthodox movement opened its rabbinic educational institution, the Hildesheimer Rabbinical Seminary.

With these three institutions the traditional yeshiva centered around the study of the Talmud was replaced by a scientific approach to sacred texts, the introduction of secular subjects and a modernized curriculum. This is not the place to describe in detail the differences between the three institutions which certainly existed,6 but I would like to stress their similarities and the emergence of a new rabbinic ideal: the “Rabbinerdoktor.”7 A scholar who embodied both secular and religious knowledge, earned a certificate like the Smicha (an ordination certificate) awarded by the rabbinical seminary and a doctoral degree issued by the university. The education to become a rabbi was not only transformed, but the tasks a rabbi was expected to fulfill also changed. The rabbi was also expected to give sermons, engage in pastoral care, run associations and publish scholarly articles.8

Despite the differences between the institutions, the rivalries and creation of different denominational currents, they produced hundreds9 of rabbis for the European market and influenced the Jewish communities through these personalities. To mention just a few: Rabbi Moritz Güdemann and Rabbi Ismar Elbogen were graduates of the Jewish-Theological Seminary. Rabbi Prof. Dr. Emil Fackenheim, Rabbi Regina Jonas and Rabbi Prof. Dr. Leo Trepp were former students of the Higher Institution for the Science of Judaism. Rabbi Prof. Dr. Alexander Altmann (author of a biography of Moses Mendelssohn) and Rabbi Dr. Joseph Zvi Carlebach graduated from the Hildesheimer Seminary. All three institutions were forced to close their doors under National Socialism, the Jewish-Theological Seminary and the Hildesheimer Rabbinical Seminary in 1938, the Higher Institution for the Science of Judaism in 1942. With this the history of modern rabbinical education in Germany ended. Nearly 60 years would pass before the first rabbinical school after the Shoah established itself in Germany.

Jews in Germany: The last three decades

In 1989, when the Berlin wall fell and East and West Germany were united, the history of Jews in Germany faced another dramatic turn. The unified German government allowed Soviet Jews to seek asylum in Germany. This led to the founding of many new Jewish communities in places where Jewish congregational life had not existed before 1933; in Brandenburg alone eight new Jewish congregations were founded.10 Already existing congregations grew dramatically; for example Dresden’s Jewish community went from 61 members in 198911 to nearly 750 members in the nineties.12 With the immigration of thousands of Russian-speaking Jews to Germany, the country’s image worldwide changed. For decades, Germany was viewed as a place that Jews should avoid or leave as soon as possible. The nineties, however, witnessed a shift: immigration instead of emigration, Germany instead of Israel or the United States. Soon Germany was celebrated as having the fastest growing Jewish population worldwide. But were there rabbis to guide these emerging communities?

Who had served in the existing congregations until then? East Germany did not have a rabbi after Martin Riesenburger died in 1965. Lay people from Hungary and Czechoslovakia came to help out and lead services during the High Holidays. But for decades the communities were left without constant religious, halakhic or pastoral guidance. In West Germany only eight rabbis officiated over 23,000 Jews dispersed across 60 different communities (as a comparison, Zurich employed 5 full-time rabbis for its community with 5,200 members in the eighties).13 It was common for a single rabbi to serve several different congregations at once.

The founding of the three rabbinical schools in Berlin

It is in this context, the Abraham Geiger Kolleg, a rabbinical school to train liberal rabbis and cantors was founded in Berlin in 1999. The Abraham Geiger Kolleg, named after the already mentioned liberal Rabbi Abraham Geiger, was the first rabbinical seminary to re-establish itself on the European continent after the Shoah. Two more would follow: the Orthodox Rabbinical Seminary in 2009 and the Conservative Zacharias Frankel College in 2013.14 In November 2017, the Abraham Geiger Kolleg held its first alumni conference. In her speech, Rabbi Denise L. Eger (Los Angeles), Immediate Past President of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, reflected on the challenges graduates of rabbinical schools have to face: “We are in the construction industry. Rabbis and cantors are actually builders. Builders of the Jewish now. Builders of the Jewish future. Builders of Jewish civilization.”15 This statement captured the essence of the rabbinate in the whole Western world and holds especially true when it comes to Germany and its mostly Russian-speaking Jewish population. The notion to reconstruct, rebuild and reeducate is a major concept in this regard. The immigrants’ Judaism is seen as deficient. Efforts must be undertaken to teach them about their origins with rabbis serving as crucial leaders to teach the uneducated and enable them to reconnect with their roots. The immigrants, however, seldom chose Germany as a new home because they sought religious fulfillment but because they wanted a better life. Yet, the immigration wave gave rise to the assumption that new and many more rabbis were needed and therefore, institutions to train them had to be established.

Thus, the founding of the first rabbinical school marked the peak in the enthusiastic revival of Jewish life in Germany. Parallel to Germany’s efforts to come to terms with its past and as a reaction to the immigration of thousands of Russian-speaking Jews from the former Soviet Union dozens of memorial sights were inaugurated, Jewish cultural festivals celebrated, Jewish cafés, restaurants and museums opened and all things Jewish attracted special attention.16 Chabad opened its center in Berlin in 1996. Shortly afterwards, in 1999 the Lauder Foundation opened a house of study. Until today, we witness both, confusion and fascination with anything Jewish.

Before the rabbinical schools were founded, one could study at the College of Jewish Studies in Heidelberg (Hochschule für Jüdische Studien) which opened in 1979 under the aegis of the Central Council of Jews in Germany (the political representation of Jews in Germany). But it was unsuccessful in its efforts to provide rabbinical training.17 After receiving a general introduction to Jewish studies its students had to move on to London, Cincinnati or New York to complete their rabbinic education. Once abroad students were less likely to return to Germany where working conditions were less than attractive. Communities were too small and did not have enough funds to hire a full-time rabbi. Jewish life in the eighties was not yet prospering.

Jewish life in Germany flourished in the following two decades, which brings us to examine the training, status and job opportunities for the rabbi in Germany today. Due to new immigration laws in 2005, immigration from the former Soviet Union radically dropped. Without a new influx of Jewish immigrants, Jewish communities are shrinking again.18 The demands and expectations for their rabbis, however, continue to grow: An observation by Jack Wertheimer, a renowned American scholar of Jewish education, illustrates this point:

Congregations all want someone who attends every meeting and is at his desk working until midnight, someone who is twenty-eight years old but has preached for thirty years, someone who has a burning desire to work with teenagers but spends all his time with senior citizens, basically someone who does everything well and will stay with the congregation forever.19

Wertheimer is referring to the situation in the United States some 15 years ago but it also applies to contemporary Germany. What is puzzling about this quote is that it mentions many different tasks of a rabbi except specific rabbinic ones. It is more important for the rabbi of today to have managerial skills than to be an interpreter of religious law.

In his book “Workers of Wonders,” Byron L. Sherwin seconds Wertheimer’s observation when trying to define the nature of Jewish religious leadership. It becomes clear that the rabbi does not function primarily as a religious judge as used to be the case in the middle ages and to a large extent in the private realm of Jewish life in the 19th century.20 The reason for this is that secular law replaced religious law in all civil and criminal matters. Halakhah can no longer claim legal authority for Jews living in modern day Germany. Nor do Jews themselves consider Jewish law as binding on their behavior. Rabbinical students, however, still study Halakhah in depth.21 But do today’s congregations in Germany need halakhic decisions? Do the members of a Jewish community indeed turn to their rabbis first and foremost because they ask his assessment of whether a certain grocery is kosher? And if he denies them the permission to use the elevator on Shabbat, does he risk losing active attendance by his congregation? Ideally, the rabbi of today must also master a broad secular education.

Furthermore, because of the widespread Jewish Studies the rabbi is by no means seen as the only expert on things Jewish. Wertheimer notes:

A blow from a different direction came with the growth of Jewish studies in Colleges and universities […]. In a matter of decades, a whole new cadre of professionals had begun to compete with congregational rabbis as certified interpreters of Jewish texts and culture. In this competition, the title of professor inevitably outranked that of rabbi.22

What benefit does a rabbi bring to his community when they no longer need him to interpret the law? Can he provide an alternative understanding to the academic approach to Judaism? Can he or she as a living example have a greater impact on the formation of the community and Jewish life as opposed to a purely academic approach? Therefore the question is how can social changes be confronted without losing touch to realities of progress? In other words, modern rabbinic training addresses a very basic question: How can Judaism adjust to modernity?

In 2016, the statistics of the ZWST23, the largest Jewish welfare organization in Germany, lists 105 Jewish communities with a total of roughly 98,600 members.24 The typical Jewish congregation in Germany has less than 4,000 members, a number that the Jewish scholar for demographics Sergio DellaPergola called the minimum to create a vibrant and reproductive Jewish life25. Walter Homolka, rector of the Abraham Geiger Kolleg, sees a tendency towards dwindling Jewish communities: “…it is likely that two thirds of the current Jewish communities will not exist in 30 years.”26 Moreover, 60 percent of the community members are over 50 years old. Hence Wertheimer’s quote that the rabbi needs “to spend all his time with senior citizens” seems to become indeed one of his or her major responsibilities.

Crucial for success in the rabbinate is a certain congruency between the rabbi and the members of his congregation. Before Germany had its own homegrown rabbis again, complaints could be heard that the rabbis imported from Israel or the United States seldom shared the same experiences as the flock they were responsible for. How could a young Israeli rabbi with Sephardic background relate to an old Jewish lady of Polish origin who had survived the Shoah but lost her whole family? How can an American Orthodox rabbi trained entirely at a yeshiva without recognized academic credibility connect to atheist and secular community members? And how can a rabbi who is a Jew-by-choice convey his sense of believing and belonging to a large group of Russians who understand Judaism mainly as an ethnic component of their life? Living Judaism as a child differs from learning it as an adult. But do they really differ much from each other since both grew up without the Jewish religion? The Russians were often completely secular and only discovered as teenagers that they were Jewish. Among the challenges therefore are the diverging life experiences of the rabbi and his constituency since he embodies in many cases a completely different life model than most of the members of his congregation.

The pastoral, administrative and social demands outweigh by far the religious demands of the rabbinate. The rabbi has to have charisma, be able to preach and function as a chaplain and be willing and capable to accompany community members at life cycle events and to represent the community at the interreligious dialogue as well as at other official political events.27 Wertheimer summarizes the role of the rabbi as:

a “care-giver”, a hand-holder, a counselor. The relevant question becomes not how much the rabbi knows about Judaism and how effectively he instills it but how the rabbi treated me and my family at our “life-cycle” event, whether the rabbi’s sermons during the High Holidays “spoke” to me, and whether, at our last encounter, the rabbi uttered the words I needed to hear.28

Who do the rabbinical seminaries recruit and what job opportunities await them?

Working as the coordinator of the Zacharias Frankel College, I have learnt that the ideal candidate for the rabbinate does not exist. It is a challenge to recruit the right person for the rabbinate. Many people who are interested in pursuing Jewish theological studies and entering the rabbinate tend to be older and less well schooled theologically. Very often it is their second career and although they are eager and willing to learn, it seems to deter many of the candidates when they find out about the length of the program. Someone in his or her early thirties finds it hard to commit for another five years or more to study. Sometimes it seems as if it is just another certificate these highly mobile, international students want to obtain. They have B.A.s in Jewish Studies and M.A.s in International Politics, PhD.s in Jewish Thought. To crown their career, a Smicha would be nice. But there is no short cut to maturing into the rabbinate. It takes a village to raise a child, is a common proverb. It takes a whole rabbinical college and many years to make a rabbi.

Which job opportunities are awaiting the newly ordained rabbis? One would assume that the natural place for a rabbi is a Jewish congregation. But according to Wertheimer a growing number of rabbis are leaving the traditional role ascribed to them.29 The rabbi of today finds ample job opportunities in different areas of Jewish life. Wertheimer writes:

Ex-pulpit rabbis now serve as teachers and administrators in Jewish day schools or in Jewish community centers and summer camps, professors of Jewish studies, directors of Jewish campus programs, hospital chaplains, and officials of Jewish organizations and family foundations.30

To back up Wertheimer’s observation, let me offer you just a few examples: Rabbi Nitzan Stein Kokin, the first graduate of the Zacharias Frankel College, worked after her ordination as Tefillah supervisor and taught Bible at the Pressman Academy in Los Angeles. Graduates from the Abraham Geiger Kolleg, Rabbi Eli Reich and Rabbi Nils Ederberg teach at the School of Jewish Theology at the University of Potsdam. Rabbi Daniel Alter, also a graduate from the Abraham Geiger Kolleg, served for several years as advisor on anti-Semitism of the Jewish Community in Berlin and his fellow Rabbi Konstantin Pal is in charge of the SchazMaz-Program31 of the General Conference of Rabbis in Germany. Rabbi Daniel Fabian, a graduate from the Orthodox Rabbinical Seminary, is director of Lauder Yeshurun’s youth programs. The people mentioned here also demonstrate a variety in backgrounds common of those studying at the rabbinical seminaries. Eli Reich grew up in Sweden; Nils Ederberg is a Jew-by-Choice; Daniel Alter a German Jew born in Nuremberg; Daniel Fabian was born in Israel but grew up in Dusseldorf in the west of Germany; and Konstantin Pal represents the Russian speaking faction.

The School of Jewish Theology at the University of Potsdam

It was Abraham Geiger’s dream in 1830 to establish a Jewish-Theological faculty that was on par with Christian theological institutions. This dream was realized in 2013 when the School of Jewish Theology was created at the University of Potsdam, half an hour from Berlin. The School serves as the umbrella academic institution for the liberal and conservative rabbinic training. The call for a Jewish theological faculty became louder after the German State had established Centers of Islam at German universities.

The School of Jewish Theology operates under different premises than the many institutes of Jewish studies that can be found throughout the German university system. Whereas Jewish Studies are a secular subject, a historical and philological working discipline that attempts to explore the developments of Judaism in all its facets, Jewish Theology is tied to faith and conviction, taught by Jewish scholars with the goal of training qualified religious personnel, rabbis and cantors. Jewish belief and traditions are being deliberated in a religious setting. It is precisely the entrance requirements that make the difference. You may study Jewish Studies as a Jew but to study for the rabbinate and to become a rabbi you have to be a Jew!

Conclusion

In the State of Brandenburg with its University of Potsdam, we witnessed the willingness to get involved in the founding of a Jewish theological faculty. If this happened out of the conviction to establish and guarantee equality in religious education or whether the university simply strove to attain a unique selling point, remains to be seen. Fact is, the necessary money was provided and the infrastructure set up.

To what extent the Jewish communities support the project is still questionable. Just as it is questionable whether from this institution – the School of Jewish Theology – and its alumni authoritative and leading impulses will emerge for Jewish life in Germany or abroad.

I think the institutions of rabbinic learning need to engage in more self-reflection so that Jewish communities have a chance for religious renewal despite the shrinking numbers.

Bibliography

BREUER Mordechai, “Tausend Jahre aschkenasisches Rabbinat: Der Werdegang einer Institution,” in: Julius Carlebach (ed.), Das aschkenasische Rabbinat: Studien über Glaube und Schicksal, Berlin, Metropol, 1995, p. 15–23.

BRÄMER Andreas, Rabbiner Zacharias Frankel: Wissenschaft des Judentums und konservative Reform im 19. Jahrhundert, Olms, Hildesheim, Zürich and New York, Böhlau, 2000.

BURGAUER Erica, Zwischen Erinnerung und Verdrängung: Juden in Deutschland nach 1945, Reinbek bei Hamburg, Rowohlt Taschenbuch, 1993.

DELLAPERGOLA Sergio, “Jews in Europe: Demographic trends, contexts and outlooks”, in: Julius H. Schoeps and Olaf Glöckner (eds.), A Road to Nowhere? Jewish Experiences in Unifying Europe, Brill, 2011, p. 1–34.

EGER Denise L., “Tradition and Innovation,” The Central Conference of American Rabbis, 2017, URL: http://www.abraham-geiger-kolleg.de/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Eger_Tradition-and-Innovation_Gesch%C3%BCtzt.pdf [access 14.12.2017].

GERTNER Haim, “Rabbinate: The Rabbinate after 1800,” Yivo Encyclopedia, URL: http://www.yivoencyclopedia.org/printarticle. aspx?id=22 [access 12.10.2017].

GOLDENBOGEN Nora, “Between Desolation and Hope: A Fresh Start and Jewish Life in Dresden after 1945,” in: Jüdische Gemeinde zu Dresden (ed.), Then and Now: On the History of the Dresden Synagogue and its Community, Dresden, ddp goldenbogen, 2001, p. 108–121.

GOLINKIN David, “The Ideal Rabbi Today,” The Schechter Views, Vol. 3, No. 3, December 2003 [originally published in Hebrew], URL: http://www.schechter.edu/the-ideal-rabbi-today/ [access 4.11.2017].

GRUBER Ruth Ellen, Virtually Jewish: Reinventing Jewish Culture in Europe, Berkeley and Los Angeles, University of California Press, 2002.

HOMOLKA Walter, “Der lange Weg zur Errichtung des Fachs Jüdische Theologie an einer deutschen Universität,” in: Walter Homolka and Hans-Gert Pöttering (eds), Theologie(n) an der Universität, Berlin and Boston, De Gruyter, 2013, p. 53–77.

_____, “Jüdisches Leben in Deutschland: Aufbrüche zu religiöser Vielfalt und staatlicher Gleichbehandlung,” in: Karlies Abmeier, Michael Borchard, and Matthias Riemenschneider (eds), Religion im öffentlichen Raum: Religion—Staat—Gesellschaft, Vol. 1, Paderborn, Ferdinand Schöningh, 2013, p. 127–139.

_____, “The Modern Community Rabbi in Germany: Towards the Development of a Contemporary Occupational Profile,” in: Walter Homolka and Heinz-Günther Schöttler (eds), RabbiPastorPriest: Their Roles and Profiles through the Ages, Berlin and Boston, De Gruyter, 2013, p. 327–357.

SCHORSCH Ismar, “Emancipation and the Crisis of Religious Authority: The Emergence of the Modern Rabbinate,” in: Werner E. Mosse, Arnold Pauker, and Reinhard Rürup (eds), Revolution and Evolution: 1848 in German-Jewish History, Tübingen, Mohr Siebeck, 1981, p. 205–247.

SHERWIN Byron L., Workers of Wonders: A Model for Effective Religious Leadership from Scripture to Today, New York and Oxford, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2004.

WECZERKA Hugo, “Die Herkunft der Studierenden des Jüdisch- Theologischen Seminars zu Breslau 1854–1938,” Zeitschrift für Ostforschung, No. 35, 1986, p. 88–139.

WERTHEIMER Jack, “The Rabbi Crisis,” Commentary, May 2003, No. 115, 5 Research Library Core, 2003, p. 35–39.

WILKE Carsten, “Modern Rabbinical Training: Intercultural Invention and Political Reconfiguration,” in: Walter Homolka and Heinz-Günther Schöttler (eds), RabbiPastorPriest: Their Roles and Profiles through the Ages, Berlin and Boston, De Gruyter, 2013, p. 83–110.

WILL Michaela, Pfarramt und Rabbinat: Identitätskonstruktionen im Dialog, Nordhausen, Verlag Traugott Bautz GmbH, 2016.

Internet sources

http://www.abraham-geiger-kolleg.de/ [access 14.12.2017].

http://rabbinerseminar.de/ [access 14.12.2017].

http://zacharias-frankel-college.de/ [access 14.12.2017].

http://www.allgemeine-rabbinerkonferenz.de/ [access 22.12.2017].

www.zwst.org [access 12.10.2017].

1 David Golinkin, “The Ideal Rabbi Today,” The Schechter Views, Vol. 3, No. 3, December 2003 [originally published in Hebrew], URL: http://www.schechter.edu/ the-ideal-rabbi-today/ [access 4.11.2017].

2 Ibid.

3 The Abraham Geiger College held its first alumni conference under the motto “Tradition and Renewal: The Role of Progressive Rabbis and Cantors in Europe in the 21st Century,” see: http://www.abraham-geiger-kolleg.de/2017/10/17/einladung-zur-podiumsdiskussion-tradition-und-erneuerung/ [access 14.12.2017].

4 Haim Gertner, “Rabbinate: The Rabbinate after 1800,” Yivo Encyclopedia, URL: http://www.yivoencyclopedia.org/printarticle.aspx?id=22 [access 12.10.2017]. See also: Carsten Wilke, “Modern Rabbinical Training: Intercultural Invention and Political Reconfiguration,” in: Walter Homolka and Heinz-Günther Schöttler (eds), RabbiPastorPriest: Their Roles and Profiles through the Ages, Berlin, and Boston, De Gruyter, 2013, p. 83–110 and Ismar Schorsch, “Emancipation and the Crisis of Religious Authority: The Emergence of the Modern Rabbinate,” in: Werner E. Mosse, Arnold Pauker, and Reinhard Rürup (eds), Revolution and Evolution: 1848 in German-Jewish History, Tübingen, Mohr Siebeck, 1981, p. 205–247.

5 See for a biography of Zacharias Frankel: Andreas Brämer, Rabbiner Zacharias Frankel: Wissenschaft des Judentums und konservative Reform im 19. Jahrhundert, Olms, Hildesheim, Zürich, and New York, Böhlau, 2000.

6 The three leading figures Frankel, Geiger and Hildesheimer were very hostile towards each other and used to criticize each other regularly in public (see A. Brämer, Rabbiner Zacharias Frankel…, op. cit., p. 380, 392, 407–411 and C. Wilke, Modern Rabbinical Training…, op. cit., p. 100).

7 Mordechai Breuer, “Tausend Jahre aschkenasische Rabbinat: Der Werdegang einer Institution,” in: Julius Carlebach (ed.), Das aschkenasische Rabbinat: Studien über Glaube und Schicksal, Berlin, Metropol, 1995, p. 22.

8 Ibid.

9 See for the numbers Walter Homolka, “Der lange Weg zur Errichtung des Fachs Jüdische Theologie an einer deutschen Universität,” in: Walter Homolka and Hans-Gert Pöttering (eds), Theologie(n) an der Universität, Berlin and Boston, De Gruyter, 2013, p. 59 as well as Hugo Weczerka, “Die Herkunft der Studierenden des Jüdisch-Theologischen Seminars zu Breslau 1854–1938,” Zeitschrift für Ostforschung, No. 35, 1986, p. 98.

10 Walter Homolka, “Jüdisches Leben in Deutschland: Aufbrüche zu religiöser Vielfalt und staatlicher Gleichbehandlung,” in: Karlies Abmeier, Michael Borchard and Matthias Riemenschneider (eds), Religion im öffentlichen Raum: ReligionStaatGesellschaft, Vol. 1, Paderborn, Ferdinand Schöningh, 2013, p. 131.

11 Nora Goldenbogen, “Between Desolation and Hope: A Fresh Start and Jewish Life in Dresden after 1945,” in: Jüdische Gemeinde zu Dresden (ed.), Then and Now: On the History of the Dresden Synagogue and its Community, Dresden, ddp goldenbogen, 2001, p. 121.

12 See for membership numbers: Central Welfare Organization: http://www.zwst.org/medialibrary/pdf/Mitgliederstatistik-1990-2000-Ausz%C3%BCge.pdf [access 18.12.2017].

13 Erica Burgauer, Zwischen Erinnerung und Verdrängung: Juden in Deutschland nach 1945, Reinbek bei Hamburg, Rowohlt Taschenbuch, 1993, p. 37; for the numbers in Zurich see ibid., footnote 30 on p. 305.

14 See the following websites for the respective schools: http://www.abraham-geiger-kolleg.de/; http://rabbinerseminar.de/ and http://zacharias-frankel-college.de/ [access 14.12.2017].

15 Denise L. Eger, “Tradition and Innovation,” The Central Conference of American Rabbis, 2017, URL: http://www.abraham-geiger-kolleg.de/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Eger_Tradition-and-Innovation_Gesch%C3%BCtzt.pdf [access 14.12.2017].

16 For a detailed analysis of the developments in the nineties see Ruth Ellen Gruber, Virtually Jewish: Reinventing Jewish Culture in Europe, Berkeley and Los Angeles, University of California Press, 2002.

17 C. Wilke, Modern Rabbinical Training…, op. cit., p. 108 and Erica Burgauer, Zwischen Erinnerung…, op. cit., p. 39.

18 http://zwst.org/de/service/mitgliederstatistik/

19 Jack Wertheimer, “The Rabbi Crisis,” Commentary, May 2003, n°115, 5 Research Library Core, 2003, p. 36.

20 Byron L. Sherwin, Workers of Wonders: A Model for Effective Religious Leadership from Scripture to Today, New York and Oxford, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2004, p. 5.

21 See http://rabbinerseminar.de/kernstudium/. The Abraham Geiger Kolleg lays greater emphasis on soft skills than Halakha but of course teaches necessary tools needed to understand halakhic decisions and making decisions on a halakhic basis. See also Michaela Will, Pfarramt und Rabbinat: Identitätskonstruktionen im Dialog, Nordhausen, Verlag Traugott Bautz GmbH, 2016, p. 248–264 and p. 319–326.

22 J. Wertheimer, The Rabbi Crisis, op. cit., p. 36.

23 ZWST is the acronym for Zentralwohlfahrtsstelle der Juden in Deutschland, the Central Welfare Agency for Jews in Germany.

24 See http://zwst.org/medialibrary/pdf/Statistik-2016-Auswertung.pdf [12.10.2017].

25 Sergio DellaPergola, “Jews in Europe: Demographic trends, contexts and outlooks”, in: Julius H. Schoeps and Olaf Glöckner (eds.), A Road to Nowhere? Jewish Experiences in Unifying Europe, Brill, 2011, p. 1-34.

26 W. Homolka, Jüdisches Leben in Deutschland…, op. cit, p. 139.

27 See Walter Homolka, “The Modern Community Rabbi in Germany: Towards the Development of a Contemporary Occupational Profile,” in: Walter Homolka and Heinz-Günther Schöttler (eds), RabbiPastorPriest…, op. cit., p. 327–357.

28 J. Wertheimer, The Rabbi Crisis, op. cit., p. 39.

29 Ibid., p. 37.

30 Ibid.

31 This program provides rabbinical assistance to Jewish communities that do not have a rabbi, see: http://www.allgemeine-rabbinerkonferenz.de/ [access 22.12.2017].

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