These essays are on the topic of how Judaism, Augsburg and the Holocaust have had an impact of these children's lives. This is an on-going project still in formation.
teutsch Rabbi David Teutsch (born in 1950 in Salt Lake City) is the son of Eric Teutsch and Hilda Wormser Teutsch, both born in Augsburg. Eric Teutsch was also one of the Jewish men arrested on Kristallnacht and interned in Dachau. David is currently a Rabbi in the Reconstructionist Movement in America.
For further information about the Reconstructionist Movement Click Here for the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Collegeor Click Here for the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation

A Rabbi from Augsburg

By Rabbi David Teutsch
Both my parents come from Augsburg. My father, Eric Teutsch, born in 1919, was briefly interred in Dachau after Kristallnacht and left Germany in 1939. After a brief stay in a Kitchener camp in England, he sailed to the United States in December of that year. My mother, Hilda Wormser Teutsch, left Germany for the USA in 1939 with her parents and sister. By coincidence my father travelled on the same boat.

My mother and her family went on to Buffalo, New York, where they had relatives, and my father stayed in New York City for several years with his older brother. They both moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, where my uncle became a music professor, durying World War II. My father completed high school there and worked in the animal byproducts business. He eventually went to Buffalo to marry my mother and brought her back to Salt Lake City, where I was born in 1950, preceded by my brother Steven in 1948.

We were members of a Conservative synagogue, which we attended regularly, and I went to public high school. I then attended Harvard University, where I majored in Jewish studies. I was there during the deep conflict over the Vietnam War, which led me to a commitment to social change and the belief that religious leaders have a vital role to play in providing roots in religious and humanistic values as well as a moral vision for the world's future. Immediately upon earning my bachelor's degree, I began my studies for the rabbinate at Hebrew Union College, the Reform seminary. The first year of study is in Jerusalem. I then continued in New York and was ordained in 1977. I married Betsy Platkin Teutsch, now an internationally recognized Jewish artist and calligrapher, in 1974; we have two children.

While in seminary, I served an experimental congregation that was committed to democracy, intensive community, and exploration of the breadth of Jewish tradition. I continued there after graduation. Not fully comfortable with the Reform emphasis on autonomy over community, I joined the Conservative Rabbinical Assembly, but there felt uncomfortable with the way that Halakha (Jewish Law) prevented rapid responses to moral issues.

Eventually I found my home in the Reconstructionist movement, which defines Judaism as the evolving religious civilization of the Jewish people. My commitment to spiritual depth, intellectual and moral rigor, democratic community-based decisionmaking, and openness to the richness of Jewish tradition were well matched to this fledgling undertaking. From 1981-1986 I was the Executive Director of the Federation of Reconstructionist Congregations and Havurot (now called the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation), which currently has over 100 congregations affiliated with it. I then joined the faculty of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, while earning my ph.d. in organizational ethics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Since 1993 I have been president of the College, a position I plan to leave in summer 2002 to return to fulltime teaching and head RRC's Center for Jewish Ethics.

While at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, I served as editor-in-chief for the seven-volume Kol Haneshama prayerbook series, which is now used in almost all of the Reconstructionist congregations as well as in many other settings. These prayerbooks retain the core of traditional Hebrew liturgy but reflect Reconstructionist theology--we do not pray for a personal messiah, revival of the dead, or re-institution of sacrifices, and we have eliminated references to Jews as the chosen people. The prayerbooks also have elaborate commentary, much contemporary poetry, transliteration, and beautiful translations. The books are designed to encourage individual worship and spiritual growth, while making it possible for educated laypeople to lead worship as well. Thus they embody much of what I most love about the Reconstructionist approach to Judaism.

I first visited Germany while I was in college in 1970 on my way home from a summer at an archaeological dig in Israel. I visited Augsburg overnight (it was pouring rain, and in truth I did not feel comfortable being there) but spent more time in Nurnberg, where I still have relatives. In 1999 I visited Augsburg with my wife and children. Exploring the city with them was very moving. We sat in the coffeehouse where my grandmother (who died in Dachau) used to meet her friends on Saturday afternoons. We explored the synagogue, which my parents always speak of with such fondness. They were there for its rededication. We wandered through the beautiful streets. I still feel a connection, which is one reason why I have been helping in small ways to support the Leo Baeck seminary, the first non-Orthodox German-speaking seminary to open in since World War II.

My parents have now retired and live in Rancho Bernardo, near San Diego, California. My older child, Zachary, attends Brown University; my daughter attends Akiba Academy, a Jewish high school. Betsy's art career is thriving, and I continue to be deeply engaged with the Jewish community and with my own scholarship. In my spare time I am an avid bicyclist, and we hope to continue in similar fashion in the years ahead.


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