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Saturday, October 29, 2005

Growing pains

The Jewish community in Germany is growing at a massive rate. New communities, new schools and new synagogues are springing up everywhere. So are the arguments.

Germany’s Jewish population is catapulting. It is now the fastest growing Jewish community outside Israel – spawned on by Germany’s relaxed immigration policy for Jews of the former Soviet Union. The official Jewish population stands at about 100,000 registered members, up from 15,000 in 1950.

Against this background, the question in Germany today, is whether these Jews feel unified and whether one organization can meet the demands of representing them.

It has been over 70 years since Germany might have last been considered a “normal country”. Even before the final solution was adopted, the Nazi-Fascist theatrics of imitating ancient Roman pageantry already set the country apart from most.

However, it was Germany’s masterminding of the Jewish holocaust that keeps the country from taking a completely normalized position among the world’s civilized nations.

Many people question whether Judaism’s revival in Germany can be considered normal – or whether the Jewish communities, there, are “normal”.

Instead of being a community of people with a common [German] heritage developed over a period of many generations, it is a collection of cultures, Russian, Polish, Israeli and some remnants of German, that have been thrown together into the same synagogues over the past 50 years – a phenomena of its own.

The Central Council of Jews in Germany, is not a post-war invention, but succeeded centralized Jewish community authority structures that existed before the war.

The current Central Council’s mandate began in 1950, when it was responsible for aiding in the reestablishment of Germany’s fragmented Jewish communities.

It acts as the official liaison between Jews and the German authorities. Since 1989, it has been mostly responsible for bringing East Germany’s Jewish structures under its roof – as well as coordinating the influx of Jews from the former Soviet block.

Its main challenge, internally, is integrating Russian, Polish, German, Israeli, religious and non-religious mindsets into a coherent, unified organization.

Externally, its goal is to create bridges of understanding between Jewish and non-Jewish structures. On the external front, it has been relatively successful. Internally, there is a lot of work that still needs doing, according to many observers.

Read it all here.

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