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Chief Rabbi Goldstein in Berlin

  • Chief Rabbi Berlin Reuters
A singular honour befell South African Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein, when in January he was called upon to deliver the prestigious annual Hildesheimer Lecture at the Law School of Humboldt University in Berlin.
by ANT KATZ | Feb 02, 2017

A singular honour befell South African Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein, when in January he was called upon to deliver the prestigious annual Hildesheimer Lecture at the Law School of Humboldt University in Berlin.

Rabbi Goldstein based his address on his doctoral thesis which looks at human rights in relation to the Jewish law perspective. Speaking in English, Rabbi Goldstein kept his audience captivated for over an hour. (His original Wits thesis has been published as a book entitled “Defending the Human Spirit”.)

At his return to South Africa, Rabbi Goldstein told Jewish Report of a number of interesting anecdotes about his Berlin visit that had inspired him, including post-Nazi plaques, seeing the Brandenburg Gate lit up by an Israeli flag, and more.

After being introduced by the university’s dean of the law faculty and another professor, Rabbi Goldstein was called on to speak. “My lecture focused on how Torah law protects the most vulnerable.”

The Chief Rabbi said: “We live in confusing times, dangerous times, and times filled with tremendous opportunity and it is times like these that we need to turn for insight to Jewish law.”

Quoting from a question posed by the late Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Isaac Halevi Herzog, Rabbi Goldstein said: “When the Book of Deuteronomy says: ‘I place before you’, and that someone will say that these laws are righteous laws, ‘how do we define righteousness?’

“I think this school of Jewish law here is doing such important and outstanding work in continuing this tradition of teaching about Jewish law because it has so much to offer,” said the chief rabbi.

Quoting from the introduction to Herzog’s two-volume English tome, he, Rabbi Goldstein, had written, he said: “It has been my ardent striving throughout to afford the general student of jurisprudence at least an elementary conception of the elaborate mass of towering structure of the Jewish law.”

Some interesting anecdotes…

  • Rabbi Goldstein said he found it “moving to deliver a lecture at Humboldt” as they have, at their entrance, a plaque such as those affixed to all houses in the city from where the Nazis had expelled Jews;
  • The full name of the prestigious lecture is the: Hildesheimer Lecture - a joint event of the Rabbiner Seminar zu Berlin and the Berliner Studien zum Jüdischen Recht of Humboldt University;

Rabbi Goldstein delivered his lecture the day after a terror attack killed four servicemen in Israel. “After the lecture,” he says, “somebody mentioned that the Israeli flag was projected on the Brandenburg Gate - which he then visited on his way to a dinner.

The Chief Rabbi also met leaders of the 120 000-strong German Jewish community.

He attended a post-lecture dinner hosted by Rabbi Joshua Spinner, CEO of The Ronald S Lauder Foundation, and German special ambassador to Jewry, Felix Klein, where he spoke at length about issues in South Africa.

 

 

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