Allegations against ex-head of rabbi school: Central Council wants Homolka dismissed

The founder of the Potsdam rabbinical school, the Abraham Geiger College, is said to have used his position to cover up allegations against his partner.

Entrance to the Abraham Geiger College

Entrance to the Abraham Geiger College in Potsdam Photo: Jürgen Ritter/imago

BERLIN epd/dpa | The Central Council of Jews sees allegations against Walter Homolka, the founder of the Potsdam rabbinical school Abraham Geiger Kolleg, confirmed and demands his dismissal from previous offices. The Central Council published the summary of a investigation into the case. It is said that Homolka covered up an alleged assault by his partner, who was temporarily employed at the college. Homolka’s life partner is said to have sent a pornographic clip to a student.

Wednesday’s report does not deal with the allegations against the life partner, but only against Homolka. According to the experts, there was at least the initial suspicion of a criminal offense in the case of several offences, including coercion and acceptance of benefits.

Homolka continues to vehemently deny the allegations. On Tuesday, through his lawyer, he stated that he considered the Central Council’s publication of the results to be premature, and he raised the possibility of legal action.

The President of the Central Council, Josef Schuster, said it was unthinkable that Homolka would remain in his previous posts with this result. According to the study, there was a “culture of fear” inherent in the structure of the Abraham Geiger College. Against this background, Schuster called for “a comprehensive new beginning”. The present proposal to set up a training foundation is not suitable for solving the problem.

Rabbi training in future without homolka

Against the background of the test results, the Federal Ministry of the Interior and the Brandenburg Ministry of Science also called for a “clear cut to the previous structure”. According to a joint statement, the proposals made by the Geiger College do not meet this requirement.

The allegations of abuse of power and sexualized harassment at the Abraham Geiger College were in May in a report by the World become public. Homolka was the founder and rector of the Rabbinical College and also Vice Director of the School of Jewish Theology at the University of Potsdam, which collaborates with the Geiger College on rabbi training. In its own review, the university came to the conclusion that the allegation of abuse of power at the Institute for Jewish Theology had been confirmed – but not the allegation of toleration of sexualized harassment.

The Abraham Geiger College has meanwhile announced the establishment of a foundation to support rabbi training. Their structure provides for “clear participation and control regulations”, said interim director Gabriele Thöne in Potsdam. Supervisory bodies for religious and administrative issues are planned.

According to the information, Homolka will not belong to the foundation. In the future, he will dedicate himself to research and work as a professor at the University of Potsdam. In 2023, management of rabbinical training will be in new hands. “It is important that the rabbinical seminary can continue its work undisturbed and successfully – progressively and independently,” explained Homolka.

The Rabbinical Seminary at the University of Potsdam was founded in 1999 and has been training clergy since 2001 liberal current of Judaism out.

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