A final report has been released in the investigation of Rabbi Walter Homolka, a leading German Reform rabbi, and his partner following allegations of abuse of power and sexual harassment. The 806-page report, conducted by a prominent German law firm, concludes that Rabbi Homolka “was responsible for alleged misconduct, although he himself denies this.” The report also highlights the need for structural changes to prevent future misconduct.
The investigation was commissioned by the Central Council of Jews in Germany, the country’s main Jewish administrative organization. Over 70 interviews were conducted by the investigators, leading to the release of an executive summary in December 2022, which confirmed the occurrence of abuse of power and sexual harassment at Germany’s liberal rabbinical seminary.
Rabbi Homolka, who founded and directed the Abraham Geiger College, the Reform rabbinical seminary at the University of Potsdam, was implicated in numerous instances of alleged abuse of power and sexual harassment. The University of Potsdam conducted its own investigation, which found that Homolka had created a “climate of fear” that restricted the actions of students and staff.
Despite legal challenges from Homolka, the final report reflects slight revisions based on a court’s decision to exclude references to possible criminal misconduct. Homolka’s attorney described the investigation as a campaign to silence and destroy his client’s reputation.
Homolka had already stepped down from various positions in Jewish institutions after the allegations emerged in May 2022. In January, he sold his ownership stake in the Abraham Geiger College and its sister school, Zacharias Frankel College, to the Jewish Community of Berlin. The report emphasizes the need for deep structural changes, stating that temporary leave and ownership transfers are insufficient if individuals connected to Homolka continue to hold positions of influence.
The investigation has had a significant impact on Homolka’s influence within Jewish organizations and institutions. The report’s publication is seen as a testament to the courage of those who came forward to testify.