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.
I have just received an E-Mail that the Synagogue I normally attend, is reopening in line with the guidelines set out by the Ministry of Health. This really fills me with joy even though I have been fortunate to have a daily street Minyan just outside my front door. Yet, the synagogue with a Minyan (a group of at least 10 men over the age of Barmitzvah, which is 13 years old) still symbolises the importance of community worship, because the sanctity of the community is dependent on individuals counting themselves as part of the community.
In Judaism, an individual is not just a number, but is aperson and a significant being who is worthy of consideration and of being respected. The Talmud likens an individual to a whole world, saying that saving the life of one person is considered as having saved an entire world. At the same time, an individual only comes into his or her own, when the individual identifies as being part of a community and gaining strength especially in trying times as we have all been experiencing of late.
I look forward to going back to Synagogue, although I gained much from our street Minyan. It helped me and others to face our current challenges. At the same time, we could feel the joy of being together and celebrating together. Above all, our street Minyan has strengthened the realisation that the sanctity of any community is dependent on individuals coming together in harmony.