Mourning for Rabbi William Wolff
We received terrible news from England - Rabbi Wolff died tonight. He lived a long (93 years!), fulfilled and interesting life and he passed without suffering, not, as under certain conditions might be said, after "long and serious illness", but instead falling asleep peacefully. In the jewish stetl this was called the death of a tsadik, someone righteous or just. Rabbi Wolff often said that he knew nothing about life after death, about the “next world”. Though
if he went there, he would take his cell phone with him to report to his friends how everything is furnished. He hasn't called yet ...
He was born in 1927 to a well-off family in Berlin. Just six years later, the family fled from the Nazis, who had come to power, to the more or less safe at the time Holland, only to move to England a few years later. Rabbi Wolff cherished gratitude for the country that gave refuge to his family throughout his life and was proud to show off his British passport. There he achieved professional success, became one of the leading foreign journalists, and then at the age of 46, at the height of his career, abruptly changed his life and became a rabbi. In 2002 he returned to his native country after almost 70 years to work as a regional rabbi in our state.
Rabbi Wolff devoted more than a decade to building community life and was the face of the Jewish community for the general population. He was able to conquer people's hearts by captivating them with his humor, diverse knowledge and remarkable openness. He was a fighter for a new kind of community - not ghettos delimited by high walls, but modern, bright and open community centers. I think our community would be different without him. In order to be closer to the parishioners, he learned the Russian language at the age of 80. When he spoke to the people, the rabbi was astonished at how fundamental and unyielding the Soviet power destroyed Judaism in the souls and memory of the Soviet Jews. He saw his task in bringing us back to our religious roots.
We will keep the memory of this amazing person in our community forever.
He will be with us not only in prayers in our synagogue, but also in our daily community life. Zikhrono tsadik livrakha. May the memory of the righteous be a blessing.
08 July 2020 Juri Rosov,
Chairman of the Jewish community of Rostock