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, in person as well as via ZOOM.
The Temple still stands at the heart of the Jewish conscious, even though we do not have the physical presence of the Temple in Jerusalem today. Jerusalem is therefore especially important to Judaism and the Jewish people, which indicates the eternal Jewish connection with Jerusalem.
When Jews pray, we face Jerusalem wherever we are in the world as well as recalling the temple services and their intricate laws in our prayers. We especially recall the importance of the Temple on Pesach and the other two pilgrim festivals when every Jewish male over the age of 20 had to be present in Jerusalem. We also remind ourselves of the services which took place in the Temple in our prayers.
According to the Talmud every Jew had a stake in the Temple by contributing to its upkeep and the communal offerings, by giving a half shekel every year at the beginning of the month of Nisan. The amount that was collected in the diaspora communities was transported to Jerusalem so that they could also feel a connection to the Temple.
Therefore, as we conclude Pesach which celebrates our redemption from Egypt, we pray for our future redemption and that we will be led out of the Pandemic which still confronts us.