Adrian Michael Schell

Rabbi Adrian Michael Schell is a congregational rabbi in Johannesburg, serving the Progressive Jewish congregation Bet David. In addition to his pulpit at Bet David, he supports Netzer South Africa as their national Netzer-Rabbi and is a member of the SA Zionist Federation ManCom. Rabbi Schell was ordained from the Abraham Geiger College, Potsdam/Berlin in Germany.

Born and raised in Germany, he worked as a bookseller and key account manager in Munich, before deciding on a career change to the rabbinate. Having worked in a number of Progressive congregations in Germany and abroad during his rabbinic training, which included a year at the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem, he worked as well as the national youth director (Rosh Netzer Germany) for the Progressive Jewish movement in Germany (UpJ) and served the Progressive Jewish congregation in Hamelin, Germany as Rabbi, before his move to Johannesburg.

Rabbi Schell earned a bachelor’s degree in Jewish and Religious Studies, and a Masters degree in Jewish Studies. His thesis dealt with the issue of adoption of children in the Hebrew Bible, and in the context of religious law (Halacha).

Rabbi Schell is a member of the South African Association of Progressive Rabbis (SAAPR), the Central Conference of American Rabbis and is an associated member of the German General Rabbinical Conference. Rabbi Schell is a founding member of Arzenu Germany and Hillel in Germany (Hillel International). He is married.

Work experience

  • Rabbi

    Bet David Progressive Jewish Congregation

     – Heute 5 Jahre

    Sandton, Johannesburg, South Africa

  • Rabbiner / Rabbi

    Jüdische Gemeinde Hameln

     –  1 Jahr 5 Monate

    Hameln, Germany

    Congregational Rabbi


    • Leading Shabbat services and services on Jewish festivals such as the High Holidays,
    • Officiating at Life Circle Events,
    • Giving Bar/Bat Mitzwah lessons, introduction to Judaism classes, Torah studies, and lectures for members as well as non-members,
    • Leading children’s activities on Shabbat afternoon,
    • Visiting congregants in hospitals, and at home in case of illness,
    • Leading memorial services, especially on “Reichskristallnacht” and Holocaust Memorial Day,
    • Representing the community in interfaith and intercultural conferences and meetings,
    • Keeping a strong relationship to local politicians and representatives of churches and other organisations.

    The congregation has around 250 members, mainly from the former Soviet Union, who immigrated to Germany within the last 20 years. Services are tri-lingual (Hebrew, German and Russian), completely led by the rabbi, or in his absence by one member of the community. Services include lots of singing, a sermon, Torah reading on Shabbat and festivals, and reflecting or educational parts. The integration of all members, especially the senior members, in the life of the community has been the main focus of my work.

    The congregation is a stronghold in the German Jewish progressive movement, and is proud of its own Synagogue, built on the site of the Synagogue, which was destroyed on “Reichskristallnacht”, it was the first reform Synagogue to be built after the Shoah.

  • National Youth Director / Rosh Netzer Germany

    Union Progressiver Juden in Deutschland

     –  2 Jahre 7 Monate

    Bielefeld, Deutschland

    Foto: Tobias BarniskeNational Youth Director / Rosh Netzer Germany

    • Responsible for all youth activities for the national reform movement for children between the ages of 8 and17, and the programs for young adults (18-23),
    • Organising and leading the youth leader programs (training of madrichim), and coordinating the work of the Madrichim,
    • Planning, organising and leading the nationwide youth camps
    (2 weeks in summer and one week in winter)
    • Coordinating and facilitating local youth activities such as mini- machanot or Shabbatot,
    • Taking part in the development and implementation of long- and short term programs in the Jewish education of children and young adults for the reform movement in Germany,
    • Taking part in the strategic debate to get youth more involved both in congregations and in the movement,
    • Representing the UpJ at conferences and/or on public occasions, such as a visit to Auschwitz with the prime minister of North Rhine Westphalia,
    • Organised and led one international exchange program with the Israeli progressive youth movement Noar Telem in Israel.
    • Supervised the Netzer Shlicha from Israel during her year in Germany,
    • Setup and managing the new Netzer website and hadracha online database, as well as the Facebook account.

  • Community Student Rabbi

    Jüdische Gemeinde Hameln

     –  5 Jahre 8 Monate

    Hameln, Germany

    I started with leading services on Shabbat and Festivals, Torah services and giving Bar Mitzwah classes in 2007, and took over more and more parts of rabbinic work in preparation for the pulpit, I am currently holding.

  • Community Student Rabbi

    Jüdische Kultusgemeinde Bielefeld

     –  9 Monate

    Bielefeld und Umgebung, Deutschland

    I led services on Kabbalat Shabbat and Shabbat morning as well as on Pessach. I also led the Pessach Seder that year. My work included working and studying with the local youth group. Together with that group, I led special youth services for the congregation.

    The congregation was re-established after the Second World War. Today, it is an egalitarian congregation belonging to the Union for progressive Judaism in Germany.

  • Community Student Rabbi

    Jüdische Gemeinde Weiden

     –  9 Monate

    Weiden in der Oberpfalz, Germany

    I led traditional services on Kabbalat Shabbat and Shabbat morning as well as creative toddler Shabbat services, using a prayer book for children I had created for these services.

    The congregation belongs, as does the congregation in Bielefeld, to the Central Council of Jews in Germany, and was founded directly after the Second World War by members of the nearby DP Camp. Today its members are, as in any other congregation in Germany, mainly immigrants from the former Soviet Union. The congregation has been served by Conservative Rabbis, and therefore follows a conservative/masorti tradition.

  • Assistant Key Account Manager / Bookseller

    Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag

     –  7 Jahre 5 Monate

    München und Umgebung, Deutschland

    Working in the Sales and Marketing department of a leading publishing house, I was responsible for international business customers as well as the mail order and internet bookstores like In addition, I was the assistant of the Senior Key Account Manager.

    During this time I conceptualized and administered the b2b-website of the company.

  • Bookseller (Owner)

    Buchhandlung Apacik und Schell

     –  3 Jahre 5 Monate



  • Abraham Geiger Kolleg, Berlin

    Ordination as Rabbi in April 2013 by Rabbi Prof. Dr. Walter Jacob., Rabbinische Studien


    Aktivitäten und Verbände: Founding member of Hillel Potsdam

    Geiger College

    My rabbinical thesis dealt with the adoption of children in the context of modern rabbinic decisions.

    The rabbinical training included the following programs in Israel:
    • Conservative Yeshiva, Jerusalem, Israel (2009-2010),
    • Hebrew Union College, Israel Program, Jerusalem, Israel (2009),
    • Machon Steinsaltz – The Adin Steinsaltz Institut, Jerusalem, Israel, 2009,
    • Beit Ha-Am Ulpan, Jerusalem, Israel (2005-2006).

    Related experiences during the rabbinical training:

    • High Holidays 5769 (2008) at Congregation, Bet David, Johannesburg, South Africa as rabbinical intern,
    • Netzer Germany summer camp 2010 and 2011 as a rabbinical intern,
    • Workshop series on leading creative services for Tamar Germany in 2011,
    • Several workshops at the annual meetings of the German progressive Jewish movement and Limmud Germany,
    • Taking part in several interfaith conferences and meetings.
    • Several articles in German Jewish newspapers.

  • Bild für Universität PotsdamUniversität Potsdam

    Master of Arts in Jewish Religion, History and Culture, Jüdische Religion, Geschichte und Kultur, 1.4


    Thesis: Yimutz Yeladim: Adoption von Kindern im Kontext moderner rabbinischer Entscheidungen
    (Adoption of children in the context of modern rabbinic decisions)

  • Bild für Universität PotsdamUniversität Potsdam

    Bachelor of Arts in Jewish Studies and Religious Studies, Jüdische Studien und Religionswissenschaften, 1.3


    Thesis: An Kindes statt: Adoption im Kontext der hebräischen Bibel
    (Adoption in the context of the Hebrew bible)

  • Conservative Yeshiva


    Traditional education in Talmud and Jewish texts

  • Universitätsbuchhandlung Frank

    Buchhaendler IHK


    Diploma awarded by by the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Munich.

Language Skills

  • Englisch


  • Ivrit


  • German



  • Imutz Yeladim – Adoption von Kindern im Kontext moderner rabbinischer Entscheidungen

    Die Arbeit diskutiert, welche halachischen, d.h. religionsgesetzlichen Grundlagen im Judentum für Adoptionen gelten. Gibt es überhaupt die Möglichkeit Kinder zu adoptieren und wenn ja, welche Hürden, Beschränkungen und/oder Richtlinien müssen genommen werden.

    Was muss man über die Herkunft der Kinder wissen, welchen Einfluss haben die Geburtseltern auf die Adoption und wie frei sind die Adoptiveltern in der Namensgebung?

    Welche Rechte und welche Pflichten hat das Kind? Wem gilt das Gebot, seine Eltern zu ehren?

    Diskutiert wird auch die Frage, ob eine Adoption die halachische Verpflichtung, Kinder zu zeugen, ersetzen kann.

  • Beitrag in: Predigtmeditationen im christlich-jüdischen Kontext Plus: Tiqqun olam – Prophetisch predigen

    Studium in Israel

    Mein Beitrag beschäftigt sich mit der Idee einer jüdischen Wirtschaftsethik im Kontext von Tikkun Olam, aufgehängt an einem Zitat aus den Sprüchen Salomons: Spr 22,1-16 “Reich und Arm begegnen einander”.
    ISBN 978-3-9809932-6-5

  • Beitrag in: Das jüdische Eherecht

    De Gruyter Recht

    Das Buch führt in das Jüdische Recht insgesamt und in seine Entwicklung in den verschiedenen Strömungen des Judentums ein, gibt einen Überblick über Brautwerbung, Verlobung, Details der Eheschließung, Eheverbote und Scheidungsregeln. Im Staat Israel ist das jüdische Familienrecht bis heute für die Regelung von Eheschließung und Scheidung zwischen Juden relevant. Das Buch richtet sich insbesondere an Rabbiner in der Gemeindepraxis, an Experten des kanonischen und kirchlichen Rechts und an Juristen, die sich mit vergleichendem Familienrecht beschäftigen. Auch Theologen und Judaisten lesen das Buch mit Gewinn.

    Innerhalb der Ausgabe ist ein von mir verfasste Abhandlung zur Problemstellung der Aguna.


  • Allgemeine Rabbinerkonferenz in Deutschland



  • Central Conference of American Rabbis



  • Beth Hillel Potsdam

    Founding Member, Member of the Board till 2013


  • World Zionist Organization

    Delegate to the Zionist General Council (Va’ad HaPoel)


  • Deutsch-Israelische Gesellschaft Berlin-Potsdam

  • arzenu Deutschland e.V.

    Founding Member, Member of the Board till 2010