About me

Since my early student days I have been active in Jewish organisations – indeed, I am one of the few rabbis in Germany who was born and raised in a Reform Jewish household, congregation and movement, through synagogue services, Cheder (religion school), the youth movement YASGB (today: RSY-Netzer), a Jewish student movement and then the young adults organisation of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, WUPJYS.

At Cambridge University I organised a Progressive Jewish Society, became Coordinator of the national Progressive Jewish Students Commission, and in my graduate year 1977 was one of the founders of a new Reform Jewish community in the city. I was ordained from Leo Baeck  College in 1984, following six years of study including one in the Netherlands and one in Israel and from 1998 I have worked in Germany and other European countries. I write and have published many books; I am a poet and song-writer and have written many songs both serious and satirical; I am an historian and have researched many topics, both Jewish and those connected with railway history - especially in Israel and surrounding countries.

Here are some of the important points in my biography:

  • 20th. March 1954 – I was born in Bradford (Yorkshire) and grew up here. My father Edgar was born in Hannover and arrived in England as a schoolboy in 1939; My mother Esther was born in Bradford, her mother Margaret came from Vitebsk and her father Herman from near Riga. Although my mother's family belonged to the (Orthodox) Bradford Hebrew Congregation, where my parents married, they became active in the Bradford Synagogue, Bowland Street.
  • I went to school in Bradford and in 1972 gained my A-Levels (3 A's and a B) and Cambridge Entrance;
  • In 1973 I then spent six months in Hamburg as a trainee on the Deutsche Bundesbahn.
  • From 1973 to 1976 I studied Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Cambridge, for my BA and later MA.
  • From 1976-1977 a 'Postgraduate Certificate in Education', at Cambridge University.
  • 1977-1978 – I was a Religious Studies teacher at Grove Hill Schoool, Hemel Hempstead.
  • From 1978 I studied for the rabbinate at Leo Baeck College, London. This included one year in the Netherlands, one year in Israel (Ulpan Etzion and Machon Pardes) and student placements in LJS London, Bristol, Woodford and Newcastle.
  • 1983 – Marriage to Jacqueline Frankenhuis from the Netherlands. We have three children, Nechama, Jacob and Bracha, of whom we are proud.
  • 1984 - Ordination as Rabbi.
  • 1984-1994 - Rabbi of Sinai Synagogue, Leeds.
  • 1995-1997 - Rabbi of Liberal Jewish Community 'Or Chadasch', Vienna, plus making contacts on behalf of WUPJ with communities in Bratislava, Brno, Graz, Zagreb and Sarajevo.
  • 1997-1998 - Rabbi of Synagogue Beth Israel in Oranjestad, Aruba (Netherlands Antilles).
  • 1998-2000 – 'Liberal Community Rabbi' of the Jewish community of Berlin.
  • 2001-2005 - Rabbi of 'Beth Shalom', Munich.
  • 2001-2013 parallel to above, serving several other small communities in Köln, Halle, Freiburg etc. From 2002 – 2015 first Rabbi and then 'Landesrabbiner' in the Landesverband der Jüdischen Gemeinden von Schleswig-Holstein.
  • 2005 (26th. Jan.) - award of the 'Knight's Cross' of the Republic of Poland by the then-Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski for my work in Christian-Jewish and Jewish-Polish Dialogue.
  • From 2005: Rabbi of the Jewish Liberal Community 'Or Chadasch' Vienna (again!)
  • 2008 – Award of PhD from King's College, University of London for my thesis (in the War Studies and Middle East Studies Depts.) on 'Arthur Kirby and the Last Years of Palestine Railways', 1945-1948'. Supervisor: Prof. Ephraim Karsh.