Rabbis need to write a lot – letters, essays, sermons, articles, Torah commentaries, responses to religious questions, speeches and more. I write a lot – and have done since I was young; I write because I have to. Seriously. Some brief examples I have enclosed to this website. The ideas come and they need to be worked on, teased out, sometimes checked against other ideas and facts – and written down. Thank heavens for laptops!
I write many short stories, some of them very serious and based upon my own and colleagues' experiences as Rabbis; some are more light-hearted, some are parodies. For many years my children demanded a new story every night and they usually got one! I write history (especially railway history) and biography, poems, songs, book reviews, parodies and more. I have published many articles in newspapers – some can be found on this site under 'Torah Portions'. Over the years several books have appeared (and others are being worked on); many are still available either as hard copies or as e-books. These include:
'Tales of the Chutzper Rebbe – a Selection from the Acidic Anthology' – this first appeared in 1997 in California (pub. 'Alef Design'). It includes tongue-in-cheek parodies of some of the classic Chasidic tales which are so often so earnestly cited.... A second edition with the same illustrations by Paul Palnik is now available on Amazon: 2020: ISBN: 979-867-593694-6
'99 Fragen zum Judentum' – appeared from 2001 in three editions (the third in 2005), with a German translation by Götz Elsner; It is still available. Also as an e-book. This paperback atttempts to answer, in a light yet comprehensive manner, the questions which so frequently come up in interfaith encounters.
(Gütersloher Taschenbuchverlag, ISBN 978-3-587906423-9)
The English version is ''99 Questions About Judaism'' (2020) ISBN 979-856-4438841. 138pp. ''Why do Jews also answer a Question with a Question?'' ''So nu, Why shouldn't Jews always answer a Question with a Question?''
This book has also appeared in Italian as '99 domande sull'Ebraismo',
Gribaudi, Milan, 2004, EAN: 9788871527475
'Auf das Leben' is a book of rabbinic short stories, translated into German by Miriam Pressler and illustrated by Oliver Weiß, published by Goldmann Verlag, München, 2008, ISBN 978-3-442-31185-9. This has also appeared in Korean. The German version is currently only available second-hand but I hope to produce a second edition soon; the English version will hopefully be expanded with companion volumes as resources allow.
Some of the stories, published in "Auf das Leben", but also some new ones, were published as 'Tales from the Rabbi's Desk' Vol. 1 (Kulmus Publishing, London 2015; ISBN 978-0-9880539-2-2; 208 pp.) Of these stories I can say that they are not exactly 'true' but they are 'authentic' – they are based on the things one experiences as a Rabbi, but I have modified and altered the stories to make those concerned less identifiable.
Now added and available from Amazon are.
Volume 1 (second edition) 2020. ISBN 979-8-69531-580-6.
Volume 2 (second edition) 2020. ISBN 979-8-69540-752-5.
Volume 3. 2020. ISBN 979-8-55722-452-9.
Volume 4. 2021. ISBN 979-8-75552-698-2.
Volume 5 is in preparation.
A PERSONAL BIOGRAPHY OF RABBI DR. ERICH BIENHEIM is available in English (2020. ISBN 9798668247134) (on Amazon) and in German (RABBINER DR. ERICH BIENHEIM. EINE PERSÖNLICHE BIOGRAPHIE) (Hentrich & Hentrich 2019; ISBN 978-3-95565-356-9. Erich Bienheim (1898-1962) came from Duingen, a small village in northern Germany; He studied in Berlin, then was ordained asnd served as a Rabbi in Darmstadt until the events of 1938. Following incarceration in Buchenwald he was released and fled to England from where he was deported to Australia on the infamous 'S.S. Dunera'. He was able to return and eventually became Rabbi in Bradford Synagogue where he taught a very young Walter Rothschild his 'Alef Bet' before sadly dying of cancer. Having left no children and no books I felt it was important to give the man - my first Rabbi and a colleague - a memorial biography from the pieces of information still available.
CRYPTIC TALES FROM THE CRYPT is a collection of 33 short memoirs ('Memoirs of an Undertaker's Undertakings' or 'My Apprenticeship with Death') by Mr. Henry Longbottom, a former Apprentice at Thistlethwaite & Sons, Funeral Directors, somewhere in Yorkshire, as told to Walter Rothschild of the Shadley Local History Society. What happened to the boat on the Lake? How does one arrange a Viking Funeral? How are Postmen buried? And many more experiences vividly brought...er... to life. ISBN 979-858-768707-3
THERE'S TROUBLE DOWN AT T'PITCH
26 vivid stories of football as played by the classic teams Huddersfax City and Cleckheckmondsedge Rovers through rain, hail, snow, fog and yet more rain in the gory glory (and very muddy) days of the past. As Told By a Father to his Son. Eeh bah goom but men were men in them there days an' they 'ad Balls to kick an' all.
'Der Honig und der Stachel' is a thick textbook (432 pages) covering almost everything one could wish to know about Judaism but presented from a realistic Reform or Liberal European perspective – so many of the Guides to Judaism are either Orthodox and/or American and do not reflect the realities of life here. It appeared in Gütersloher Verlag, 2009, ISBN 978-3-579-06528-1.
'The Bookcase of Sherlock Holmes' is a small e-book with three segments in English and forms a 'different' tongue-in-cheek view of Sherlock Holmes and his faithful partner Dr. John Watson and the Victorian London in which they lived and worked – with its weather, its crowds, its lowlife and shady corners.
It also exists in two Volumes as 'THE SECRET BOOKCASE OF SHERLOCK HOLMES: THE SUPPRESSED MEMOIRS':
Vol. 1: ISBN 979-868-062099-1
Vol. 2: ISBN 979-869-027644-7
From the Introduction: ''All those who have carefully read the splendid accounts of Dr. John Watson concerning the intelligence, insight and integrity, the deductive and didactic powers of his erstwhile colleague and friend, Mr. Sherlock Holmes, will be aware that we have, at best, only a small fraction of their story. These two English gentlemen pursue their parallel careers with but occasional mention of domestic matters; Holmes remains a bachelor in a fitting bachelor apartment, suitably convenient for The Regents Park and all the opportunities for bachelor life that may be offered there. Watson, as a medical man through and through, cannot help but mention from time to time the pharmacological habits of his friend - habits that, though perhaps acceptable at that period, would nowadays earn more than a raised eyebrow. ..........
It is clear that thete is much that we are not told and for decades scholars have struggled in a vain endeavour to elucidate more of the lives of these gentlemen. Now, through one of those strange sendipital coincidences upon which we so often rely, there has come to light a bundle of yellowing manuscripts in an ancient desk that was being disposed of as the former offices of 'Strand Magazine' were being demolished for redevelopment. These stories, it appears, composed and edited from his notes and then submitted by Dr. Watson according to his usual practice, were in fact suppressed by the then-Editor, as unsuitable for publication. On reading them we can perhaps see why, for they cast our characters in positions of ambiguity and doubt that could be considered to undermine their moral integrity - an integrity upon which so much of their careers rlelied. Elements of Homles' youth. background and private tastes are revealed which may shock those readers who had never considered to contemplate that no-one springs fully-formed and wholly perfect into this world.
In view of the years that have passed, it is considered that there is no danger in revealing now the contents of these manuscripts....''
Only for those with a sense of humour, these tales include gripping accounts of the Rabbi who lost (and regained) his Faith, the Archbishop who desired to convert in secret, the Missing Suit of Shaatnez-Free Cloth and many more besides......
In 2015 I rewrote the English text, expanding and modifying it, and this was published in 2016 as 'The Honey and the Sting', - ''for all who want to learn, and all who want to learn more'' - in hardback, softback and e-Book formats. Pub. JVFG, London, 2016, ISBN 978-1-910752-15-9 (paperback) (there are different numbers for different versions.)
Also recommended are the (currently) six volumes of
Each contains 100 short stories. From the Guide for Reviewers: ''Rothschild inhabits a bizarre world where collars and ties discuss politics with each other, where chickens discuss their sexual frustrations with their eggs, where trams can fall fatally in love with buses, where snowflakes and raindrops engage in existential debate. Through his jaundiced eye everything seems a pale shade of yellow, albeit bloodshot at times with traces of mindless violence. Domestic implements and even bodily funciions all have a voice and something to say. if you have ever wondered what a handkerchief feels when you blow into it, or how a kettle gets its kicks, or why lamp posts abhor corrosion, here you will find an answer - of sorts. The reader finds him- or herself transported into a world where political correctness is a contradiction in terms; where any remaining values they may have will be challenged and undermined. A heady and confusing mixture of lullaby and bloody lie, of melody and malady, a position between compsition and decomposition. They are deep in the sense of 'How low can you get?' - the only view is upwards.''
Vol. 1: ISBN 979-879-708448-8. ''The Lion and the Eagle, the Chicken and the Egg, the sad tales of the Mermaid who couldn't Swim or the Cat who Barked, the Canny Cannibal and the ambivalent relationship of the Lock and the Key - Not only is all human life here but much that is inhuman, sub-human and superhuman. Aesop lived almost three thousand years ago - what would he write today?''
Vol. 2: ISBN 979-840-823051-8. ''What happens when buses fall in love? When a River encounters a Canal? When a Bicycle goes through an Identity Crisis? What is an Intellectual actually FOR? How can you stop a Crossword getting even more cross?''
Vol. 3: ISBN 979-840-8381654. ''What happens when an Idea gets an Author and not the other way around? How can you describe Verbal Diarrhoiea (assuming you should even want to)? What does the Man on the Clapham Omnibus really think? How can you write a String Quartet without notes? Or interview a Mime Artiste on the Radio? What happened before the Big Bang and why didn't anyone hear it?''
Vol. 4: ISBN 979-843-446270-9. ''How does a Bi-Polar Bear behave and how can one avoid the End of the World? How can a solitary Masochist enjoy his desires, what is the sound of too many hands clapping at the wrong time, do Ghost Writers write only ghost stories? How can one climb DOWN a Mountain? For centuries thinkers and others have pondered these imponderables. Here are some possible solutions and dissolutions.''
Vol. 5: ISBN 979-843-470204-1. ''How does one regulate an Irregular Verb? Or Time a Table? Do lost Gloves get lonely? Does Reading cause Cancer? What makes a Statistic vital? Dpon't you already have enough to worry about? This selection may convince you that there is always something new to disturb and rearrange your pieces of mind.''
Vol. 6: ISBN 979-843-518857-8. ''What would you expect to find in a Black Hole? How do societies think - if indeed they do? How can one reduce CO2 emissions while reading, cope with a virus and get out of a Shallow Depression all at the same time? Would IKEA instructions assist in this endeavour? There is but one way to find out - Read these Foibles.''
Also to mention is 'THE KREUTZER CHRONICLES'
This is a novel written by my aunt Irene Lilian Chavert; the manuscript was edited after her death my my sister Sylvia and myself and then published on Amazon by my sister Joyce as a form of joint tribute to her and her writing and storytelling skills. It is the story of a Jewish family from Lithuania Eastern Europe which makes its way to the North of England in the 1890's and how they live, continuing until the 1930's. It is in fact a lightly-changed version of my maternal family's real history - my great-grandmother changed her name from Kreutzer to Bergson on arrival in England.
During my time in Aruba I researched and wrote a 'History of the Jewish Community in Aruba' – this was privately published; examples are to be found in the libraries of the Hebrew University and the Joods Historisch Museum, Amsterdam.
My PhD thesis on 'Arthur Kirby and the Last Years of Palestine Railways 1945-1948' is to be found on the page of my magazine 'Harakevet' ('The Train' )- see www.harakevet.com which also has many back numbers.
A brief biography of Rabbi Dr. Erich Bienheim appeared in 'Great Reform Lives' (MRJ, London 2010) and a fuller biography of this man, my first rabbi and teacher, is mentioned here. There awaits publication a full biography of my grandfather Herr Landgerichtsrat Walter Fritz Rothschild (1890-1950). Several articles have appeared in the 'CCAR Journal' and I have published many other chapters in 'Festschriften' or edited collections, plus essays and articles. Many other items await publication.
A CD 'The Minyan Boys Greatest Hits Volume 2' can be found on Amazon, ISBN 978-3-942271-64-6. Another 'Franz Schubert: Winterbahnreise' is due out soon with Max Doehleman, Ulli Plessman and Andrea Chudak. 'Songs My Dybbuk Taught Me' is alas no longer available. For more information on the Minyan Boys or the 'Leiderabende' see : www.Rothschild-comedy.de