Senior Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg
Jonathan Wittenberg was born into a family with a long rabbinical tradition going back several generations in Germany and Eastern Europe. Having earned his degree in literature at the University of Cambridge, he studied for the rabbinate at Leo Baeck College in London, and in Jerusalem.
He has been the Senior Rabbi of Masorti Judaism since 2008 and the Rabbi of New North London Synagogue for over 25 years.
Rabbi Wittenberg loves Judaism, literature, history, plants, animals and people. Interfaith work and pastoral care interest him deeply. He writes and speaks about the Jewish faith, moral issues, his love of nature, the spiritual search, human responsibility, and the transience of life. His books include Walking with the Light: From Frankfurt to Finchley, The Hidden God, The Three Pillars of Judaism, The Eternal Journey: Meditations on the Jewish Year, and The Silence of Dark Water: An Inner Journey.
Rabbi Wittenberg is married to Nicola Solomon and they have three children.
Why I am a Masorti Jew
By Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg
“I believe in the importance of doubt, but I’ve never doubted wanting to be a Masorti Jew. I’m a Masorti Jew because that is the only place I feel truly at home, both spiritually and intellectually. I love the traditional liturgy, the stirring melodies of the Kaddish and Amidah which form the music of the Jewish year. These prayers express the great current of Jewish spirituality, imbued with our ancestors’ joy, suffering and search for God.
“I believe in the reality of mitzvah. I believe that the essence of all the commandments is God’s voice, calling out in all living beings, ‘Respect me; do not hurt me’. Thus all of life teaches us the awe and love of God. Over millennia, in the Torah, Talmud, Codes and commentaries, Judaism has translated that voice into detailed ethical, spiritual and ritual instructions, creating a path of righteousness, loving-kindness and piety.
“I believe in truth as Rabbi Louis Jacobs saw it, that the great truths of religious intuition cannot be incompatible with those truths discovered by the empirical methods of historical, literary and scientific analysis.
“There is no other way that I can struggle to make all this a reality than through Masorti Judaism.”
To read more articles by Rabbi Wittenberg, please click here.