Rabbi Dr Martin van den Bergh
I am an Orthodox Rabbi who has special expertise in pastoral and spiritual care. Four years ago I completed a PhD at Leeds Beckett University, on patient-centred spiritual care. My academic journey also includes a B.Ed and an MA in healthcare chaplaincy from Leeds University.
I have been a congregational rabbi having served four communities over 36 years., having been the first to receive Semicha from the Shehebar Sephardic Center in the Old City of Jerusalem. My last posting was over the last three years in Liverpool at Childwall Synagogue, I also have a very keen interest in Jewish continuity coming from a family that were very fortunate to have survived the Holocaust. Although I did not grow up in a religious home, I knew at an early age that I wanted to go into the Rabbinate. I fully subscribe to Judaism that is firmly based on Halacha, Jewish Law and the traditions of our forefathers, and which shows the beauty and meaningfulness of a fully Jewish way of life, without being dogmatic or judgmental.
I recently received a message from a former congregant whom I encouraged to attend morning services once a week. He wrote that he now attends every morning and it forms a very important part of his routine. I also know of many people who first came to synagogue on Shabbat just to fulfil their security duties, to ending up being a part of the services inside the synagogue.
The following areas are of special interest to me:
Pastoral care issues
Individuals developing their own interest in their Jewish heritage
Initiating and building new projects
Community and personal conflict resolution.
I am happy to be a scholar-in-residence; be a speaker in your community; provide and advise of pastoral-spiritual care training; or provide confidential counselling.
Nobody can be unmoved by the catastrophe to befall Beirut two days ago. As with all disasters that have struck around the world, Israel is one of the first countries to offer help. This is even though Israel is one of the smallest countries in the world and has its own concerns, especially resulting from the Coronavirus Pandemic. The horrific scenes of devastation in Beirut. When it comes to showing compassion, Israel does not allow for politics or enmity of enemy nations to allow it to turn a blind. This is in stark contrast to other nations.
Israel’s unconditional compassion for humanity is based two Torah principles. That we should have consideration for all people and especially for the stranger, “for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Deut. 10.19). That God will have mercy on us: “ and (God) show you mercy, and have compassion upon you” (Deut. 13.18) The Talmud learns from these words that by us having mercy, we pray that God will have mercy on us (Shabbat 151b).
Because of this attitude, Israel has saved the lives of many people, whether from hostile lands on our borders such as Syria, or even far off countries which have suffered natural disasters. Above all, this is because Israel values life and does all it can to save life.