Rabbi Dr. Warren Goldstein
Rabbi Dr. Warren Goldstein has been the Chief Rabbi of South Africa since 2005, becoming, at age 33, the youngest person ever to hold the post. In his eleven years in office, he has launched and led a number of initiatives that have changed the face not only of his own community, but of world Jewry. Locally, his “Bill of Responsibilities” – adopted by South Africa’s Department of Education and taught in schools nationwide – has shown a new generation of young South Africans the importance of compassion, and respecting the dignity and wellbeing of others, and functions as a corollary to the South African Constitution’s famous “Bill of Rights”. Goldstein is also the founder of CAP, a unique community-driven crime-fighting initiative that protects 30,000 homes and upwards of 250,000 people, and has reduced contact crime across Johannesburg by between 80 and 90 percent. Sinai Indaba, one of the Chief Rabbi’s flagship projects, brings together an array of the foremost international Jewish thinkers and speakers, and thousands of South African Jews of all persuasions, and is perhaps the largest annual Torah convention of its kind in the world. On the educational front, the “Chief Rabbi’s Beit Midrash” programme has brought in-depth, text-based Jewish learning to Jewish day schools across South Africa, while Goldstein’s “Generation Sinai”, a platform for parents and children to connect and learn Torah ideas with one another in preparation for each Jewish holiday, has become a fixture in hundreds of schools worldwide. But the South African Chief Rabbi is perhaps best known as the founder of the “Shabbat Project”. What began as a local “unity initiative” bringing together South African Jews, from across the spectrum, to celebrate and keep one Shabbat together, became a full-blown global grassroots movement that last year involved more than one million Jews in 1 152 cities and 94 countries around the world.
Goldstein has a BA LLB, and a PhD in Human Rights and Constitutional Law, and is a qualified Dayan. He is an executive member of South Africa’s National Religious Leaders Council, through which he is involved with strengthening inter-faith relations in the country between Jews and Christian, Muslims, Hindus and other faiths, as well as engaging with the government on national policy matters. He is also known as a vocal defender of Israel in both South African and international media. Goldstein is the author of African Soul Talk: When Politics is not Enough (with Dumani Mandela); Defending the Human Spirit: Jewish Law’s Vision for a Moral Society; Sefer Mishpat Tzedek (a detailed analysis of Torah business law and ethics, with particular focus on competition law); and The Legacy: Teachings for Life from the Great Lithuanian Rabbis (with Rabbi Berel Wein). He is a regular columnist for The Jerusalem Post.