In Memoriam: Rabbi Erwin Schild (*9 March 1920 +6 January 2024)

07.01.2024 - Article

We are deeply saddened by the passing of Rabbi Erwin Schild. As we mourn his loss, we extend our heartfelt condolences to Rabbi Schild’s family and community. May the memories of his profound contributions provide solace during this difficult time.

We are deeply saddened by the passing of Rabbi Erwin Schild. He lived an extraordinary life of faith, moral clarity, and devotion to his community and his family. His voice will be missed.

Originally from Cologne (Köln-Mühlheim), Germany, Rabbi Schild’s early life unfolded within a Jewish family amidst the rise of the Nazi Party. Despite persecution, he managed to complete high school and pursue Jewish studies in Würzburg, until the devastating ‘Reichspogromnacht’ of 1938 led to his imprisonment in the Dachau concentration camp. Surviving this harrowing experience, Rabbi Schild fled Nazi Germany first to the Netherlands, then via Great Britain to Canada. In 1942, thanks to Rabbi Abraham Price and the Canadian Jewish Congress, he resumed his studies in Toronto at Yeshiva Torath Chaim and the University of Toronto. Ordained by Rabbi Price at Toronto’s Yeshiva Torath Chaim at the age of 27, Rabbi Erwin Schild completed five years of study, earning a B.A. and beginning an M.A. in Semitic languages and literature at the University of Toronto. Embarking on a career in the rabbinate, Rabbi Schild led a small congregation on Bathurst Street, witnessing its growth to 190 families and the construction of a new synagogue in North York. Rabbi Schild’s journey took him to various communities where he played a pivotal role in promoting unity and understanding. In 1982, he took over the leadership of a synagogue and became a guiding force for congregants. Under his leadership, Adath Israel grew to a congregation of 1,900 families. After 42 years of dedicated service, his retirement in 1989 marked the transition to the title of Rabbi Emeritus.

Remaining in Toronto, Rabbi Schild’s retirement was far from quiet. Retirement became a platform for literary expression, resulting in four books published by Adath Israel under Rabbi Schild’s editorship:

1. The World Through My Window (1992)

2. The Very Narrow Bridge (2001)

3. And Miles to Go Before I Sleep (2009)

4. The Crazy Angel (2017)

Germany will remember Rabbi Schild: He did not turn his back on his country of birth, which had murdered millions of Jews, amongst them his parents, and that had incarcerated him in the concentration camp Dachau. Instead, Rabbi Schild demanded of Germans to be the strongest voices against antisemitism, to learn about the Holocaust, and to teach its lessons all over the world.

Rabbi Schild’s extraordinary commitment is reflected in awards such as the Order of Canada and the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. His dedication to Jewish-Christian relations and Holocaust education earned him international recognition.

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