Rabbi Awraham Soetendorp, is an award winning human rights advocate, lecturer, writer, environmental activist and champion of civil society worldwide who is active in a wide variety of progressive, humanitarian, and interfaith organizations and initiatives. Born in 1943 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, Rabbi Soetendorp saved by a righteous couple and survived as a ‘hidden child.'
He went on to receive his ordination from Leo Baeck College of London in 1967 and was instrumental in the reestablishment of Jewish communities in the Netherlands. Rabbi Soetendorp was extremely active in the movement to free Soviet Jewry, serving as the Dutch chair of the Solidarity Committee for Jews in the Soviet Union and was a member of the World Council for Soviet Jewry. He is the rabbi emeritus of congregation Beth Jehuda in The Hague and former president of the European region of the World Union for Progressive Judaism. Rabbi Soetendorp is a founding member of Green Cross International and founder and chair of the Day of Respect Foundation, as well as the Hope for Children Fund which promotes universal education for children. He serves as an Earth Charter commissioner and a Millennium Development Ambassador. Rabbi Soetendorp is a founding member of the Islam and the West dialogue group, formerly C100, of the World Economic Forum.
Among others, he has received the Peacebuilders Award from The Alliance for International Conflict Prevention and Resolution in 2005, the "Peace Through Dialogue", Interfaith Gold Medallion from the International Council of Christian and Jews in 2007, and most recently the James Parks Morton Interfaith Award from the Interfaith Center of New York, early in 2008. In 1994, he was honoured by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands with the Royal Distinction as an Officer of the House of Orange.
Rabbi Soetendorp and his wife Sira, who is a child survivor and social worker, are blessed with two daughters and six grandchildren.
Rabbi Soetendorp's Affiliations and Organizational Service
- Founder of Foundation Hope for Children Fund in 1999
- Founder, Jewish Institute for Human Values, 1996
- Founder Day of Respect Foundation in 2006, now a yearly project during each fall in more than 1000 schools in the Netherlands
- Founding Board Member Green Cross International
- Founding Member, World Economic Forum Community of West and Islam Dialogue (C-100)
Current Leadership Positions
- Green Cross Netherlands, Chair
- Day of Respect Foundation, Chair
- Radio La Benevolencija, Chair. An organization that promotes reconciliation and the prevention of incitement to hatred and mass violence.
- Earth Charter Commissioner
- Millennium Development Goals Ambassador
- World Union for Progressive Judaism Governing Body, Board member,
- The One Voice Movement, International Board Member
- Foundation Hope for Children Fund, Board Member
- Green Cross International, Honorary Board member
- Elijah Interfaith Institute Board of Religious Leaders Member
- American Jewish World Service, supporting humanitarian projects in developing countries, Advisor
- World Connector
- Rabbis for Human Rights, Israel, Member
- World Congress of Imams and Rabbis for Peace, Participant and Speaker
Past Leadership Positions and Affiliations
- President European Region, World Union for Progressive Judaism, 2001-2007
- Board member of the Anne Frank Foundation, Amsterdam
- Honorary President of the United Nations of Youth
- Member International Advisory Committee of World Peace Summit
- Founding member, Global Forum of Spiritual and Parliamentary Leaders for Human Survival
- Chair Dutch Solidarity Committee for Jews in the Soviet Union
- Member World Council for Soviet Jewry
- James Parks Morton Interfaith Award of the Interfaith Center of New York, 2008.
- Awarded by the City of The Hague, with the highest distinction of the city, February 2008
- International Gold Medallion for “Peace Through Dialogue” from the International Council for Christians and Jews, November 2007
- International Peace-Builder Award from the Alliance for International Conflict Prevention and Resolution, Washington, Recipient 2005
- Recipient of the Royal Distinction Officer of the House of Orange 1994