Born in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, Rabbi Soetendorp was saved from the Nazis 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. 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.
Soetendorp is active in a wide variety of progressive, humanitarian, and interfaith organizations and initiatives. He is co-founder of the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, the world’s first initiative that is engaging the planet’s many faiths as allies in efforts to create a world where every human being has access to safe drinking water, improved sanitation and proper hygiene. He is also the founder of the Day of Respect Foundation, the Hope for Children Fund and Soetendorp Institute, named after his father Jacbob. In addition, he is a founding member of the Islam and the West dialogue group of the World Economic Forum and currently serves as an Earth Charter Commissioner.