Schuster, Aaron

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SCHUSTER, AARON (1907– ), chief rabbi of Amsterdam. Born in Amsterdam to parents who had recently emigrated from Russia, he was trained at the Ashkenazi Rabbinical Seminary of Amsterdam and graduated in classics at Amsterdam University. On ordination in 1941 he was appointed one of the communal rabbis of Amsterdam. In 1943, he was deported with other Dutch rabbis and his wife to Bergen-Belsen, where he was the only Dutch rabbi to survive. In 1955, after the death of Chief Rabbi Justus Tal, he was appointed chief rabbi of Amsterdam, holding the position until the end of 1972, when he resigned in order to settle in Israel. The synagogue which he attended regularly was named in his honor.

Schuster was rector of the Ashkenazi Rabbinical and Teachers' Seminary in Amsterdam from 1948 to 1972, and a member, and later chairman, of the Chief Rabbinate of The Netherlands, a standing conference of all Orthodox rabbis in that country. In this capacity he took the initiative, in 1957, in the establishment of the conference of (Orthodox) European Rabbis. While strictly Orthodox and uncompromisingly opposed to Reform, which during the 1950s and 1960s became active in The Netherlands, he represented, within the Orthodox community, the more tolerant attitude of most prewar Amsterdam rabbis, in contrast to the more extreme one of some of his postwar colleagues. A modest Liber Amicorum, with contributions by several Orthodox chief rabbis abroad, was published in his honor in 1971.

[Henriette Boas]