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Judentum und Israel
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Without going into a lengthy autobiography, what caused you to making Judaism so central to your life?

Judaism was a natural part of my life from birth. As a child I knew only my Jewish home, family and town. We lived in a small town that was 80 – 90% Jewish.
My home, my street, my whole life was within, with, and around Jews. There was no question of outside inside relationships the Non-Jewish neighbours were friends.
When War break out it was someehing which I heard about and saw but could not understand.
As I grow older I began to realize that we were being killed because we were Jews and everybody including our neighbours were trying to kill us.
The idea of blaming Judaisms for my jewish condition did not enter my mind and did not exist.
After the war I naturally continued with my life as a Jew.
I began my education after the war in the DP Camps of Germany and was educated in Zionist and Jewish thinking. That process of education continuees to this day. So, to make it short, to me to be a Jew is my very existance and Judaism is as an integral part of my life as air is to my breathing.

What is your denominational history? How were you raised? What denominational affiliation do you currently hold? How important is denominationalism to you personally and to Judaism as a whole?

I grew up as a Jew without being aware of the different movements in Judaism.
In my home town we had only one Jewish Community. Today it would be classified as an Orthodox community. There were various cultural and political groups but from the point of view of religion it was a strictly orthodox Jewish community. There was nothing else.

I am an orthodox Jew. The modern movements of Judaism today are an outgrowth of the political, social and demographic changes over the last 200 years. They are still in formation and it is premature to say what they will ultimately turn out to be.
I view all the movement of Judaism like branches on a tree. They all belong to the same stem. So are we also. We are all part of the same tree – that is Judaism and the jewish people.

Judaism rests on three major categories: God, Torah and Israel. How do you currently understand each of these terms?

To me the most important aspects of Judaism are the concept that G‘d, the Torah and the Jewish people are one. God represents the Religious dimension of Judaism.

The Torah represents our link with G‘d and each other and is the source and purpose, or the „raison d’etre" of Jewish existence. The Jewish people represents the vehicle for the expression and manifestation of G’d and the Torah in the world.
No one of the three parts of Jewish reality can survive on it own without the other.

An additional and equally important, part of my beleave is the principle of „Darchej Shalom". The ultimate blessing that G’d gives the Jewish people is peace. That, the persuit of peace amongst us, must be the most important principle and focus of our lives, especially in our century, because of the Shoah.
Therefore, I believe that Shalom amongst ourselves is more important than ideological purity and interest.
Harmony amongst us is more important than the pursuit of the success of our individual religious movement.
Community unity is more important than the ego gratification of any one individual or group.
The path to achieving peace is the way of humility in personal, and public life. It is a virtue from which we can all learn and benefit.

What do you believe to be the central challenge facing contemporary Judaism in general / in Berlin?

The greatest challenge for Jewry and Judaism today is Jewish education.
Judaism can survive best when the Jews are educated most.
The challenge for the Jewish community is to develope an educational outreach to all the members of the community.
That educational program must be inclusive and basic.
Inclusive means reaching out to all members of the community and basic means it must address the fundamental tenets of Judaism, our rituals, holidays, kashruth and history, before engaging in ideological disputes and competition.

How are you addressing these challenges?

This can be best implemented through the development of educational programs in all parts of the city where there are centers or places of Jewish residents. Each synagogue should develope on educational outreach program for ist members and their families. These programs should consist of the basics of Judaism and Jewish life. They should also be offered in Russian. I am trying to do that wherever possible including speaking in Russian.

Given that this interview is being used as an introduction to you and your work, what three things do you want people to know about you?

It is very important to me that the readers of this pages know that they can turn to me for advice, guidance and help wherever possible and that I have an open door for them.
Furthermore I want them to know that Judaism and Jewish living is the essence of my life and that they may always come to me with questions about it. They should also know that I love Judaism and the Jewish people.

While your interests are wide is it often true that teachers have an essential message they wish to impart. Is that true of you? And, if it is, what is your core teaching?

The most important mission of my life is to serve G’d,
to teach Judaism and the Torah, the love of G’d and the Jewish people and the land of Israel.

What is the current focus of your work?

The main focus of my work is to serve the needs of the Jewish people and the teaching of Judaism.

What kind of support are you in need of?

The best support I can receive from the community is for it to be united, focused on the advancement of Jewish education – for young and old – keep the mizvot, love each other and be vigilant in support of Israel.

What is your special wish for Jewish Community in Berlin?

I wish the Jewish community would be more structured, orderly and cohesive.
It should be focused on living Jewishly with all our children receiving a more intensive Jewish education and the parents participating in the religious services and be involved in the life of our people. I wish we would care more about each other and especially more about our elderly. In short I wish for all of us a happy harmoneous life.

Rabbi Chaim Rozwaski serves as liberal rabbi of Jewish Community in Berlin

Berlin, July 2001 (questions by Iris Noah)

hagalil Juli 2001




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