Germany

Berlin Orthodox deny rabbinical turf war

By Toby Axelrod, November 4, 2010

The head of the Berlin Orthodox rabbinical seminary, Rabbi Josh Spinner, has denied reports that he is engaged in an inter-denominational funding battle.

His statement comes after it emerged that the German Federal Ministry of the Interior was resisting the funding of Orthodox rabbis while continuing to contribute to the training of Reform rabbis.

Rabbi Spinner said that both the Reform and Orthodox seminaries are official, legal successors to Germany's two pre-war seminaries, which were shut down by the Nazis, and should get equal support.

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First German female rabbi after 75 years

By Jennifer Lipman, November 4, 2010

A female rabbi has been ordained in Germany for the second time in the country’s history – and the first time since the Holocaust.

Alina Treiger, 31, officially became a rabbi at a ceremony in Berlin today, in the presence of Germany's president, Christian Wulff.

The Ukrainian born former music student will look after a liberal Jewish community in Oldenburg, in western Germany. She follows in the footsteps of Regina Jonas, who became a rabbi in 1935 at the age of 33.

Ms Jonas was ordained, amidst some controversy, as Adolf Hitler consolidated power over Nazi Germany.

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Chilean president makes Nazi gaffe in Berlin

By Jennifer Lipman, October 26, 2010

The Chilean president has apologised for writing a phrase associated with the Nazis in a message to the German government while on a state visit.

President Sebastian Pinera wrote in the government’s guest book the slogan “Deutschland uber alles" which translates as “Germany above all.”

The phrase was used by Nazi politicians during the Third Reich and after the Second World War was removed from the German national anthem because of its connotations.

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Israeli author wins German peace prize

By Jennifer Lipman, October 11, 2010

An Israeli novelist has been awarded a German peace prize for giving a literary voice to coexistence.

David Grossman, whose books include The Smile of the Lamb and Someone to Run With, was announced as the recipient of the peace prize of the German book trade on Sunday.

Mr Grossman, 56, is a prominent figure of Israel’s left , and a campaigner for a peaceful solution to the Middle East conflict. He is close friends with fellow Israeli writer Amos Oz.

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Jewish boat passenger as Jewish as 'pork chop'

By Jennifer Lipman, October 8, 2010

A German woman who took part in an attempt to breach the naval blockade of Gaza pretended to be Jewish in order to take part.

According to Berlin newspaper Der Tagesspiegel, Edith Lutz may not have formally converted to Judaism.

Ms Lutz was part of the Jewish boat that attempted to sail to Gaza last week. The boat, named the Irene, was intercepted by the Israeli navy and redirected to Ashdod.

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Insights into slave labour from a Holocaust survivor

By Toby Axelrod, September 21, 2010

Hidden behind protective trees on a green hillside is a small, private Holocaust memorial. At the feet of six rough, natural boulders on a low stone, forged in metal, is the word zachor - remember.

It is the key word in the title of Marcel Tuchman's new autobiography, Remember: My Stories of Survival and Beyond, to be published in coming weeks by Yad Vashem and the Holocaust Survivor Memoirs Project.

It offers rare into a little-known chapter: the recruitment of slave labourers at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp by Siemens, the German industrial giant.

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'Jewish gene' banker may lose job

By Jennifer Lipman, September 3, 2010

A German banker who faced public outcry for claiming that “all Jews share a particular gene” is expected to lose his seat on the board of the country’s central bank.

Members of the Bundesbank board criticised Thilo Sarrazin for his inflammatory remarks about Jews and Muslims and voted unanimously to fire him.

The decision is expected to go ahead but must be approved by Christian Wulff, Germany’s federal president.

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Airline stop rabbi for 'suspicious' shofar

By Jonathan Kalmus, September 2, 2010

An Israeli rabbi narrowly escaped arrest after being stopped by security officers at Munich airport for carrying a shofar.

Airport officials pulled aside Rabbi Mordechai Halperin, who is in his late 50s, and asked him to explain the religious article while arriving on a flight from Tel-Aviv on Monday night. Rabbi Halperin was visiting his daughter Esther Chitrik who lives in Nuremberg and works as an Chabad emissary in the city.

"He was in a bit of a panic," said Gigi Mechlowitz, a fellow Jewish passenger from Manchester, who stopped to help.

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Berlin shul's money problems

By Toby Axelrod, September 2, 2010

German authorities have stopped the flow of public funds to the country's only independent Jewish congregation, reportedly due to the failure to submit audited accounts covering 2001-2006.

Adass Yisroel, a traditional congregation in Berlin, is also facing a demand by the Berlin Senate that it repay about 204,000 euros in state subsidies.

Almost every German congregation, of every denomination, belongs to a "united community" structure, which in each city hires and fires rabbis and maintains old-age homes, schools and education programmes.

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New rabbis for German Jewish community

By Toby Axelrod, September 2, 2010

Two young rabbis were ordained in ceremonies in Leipzig on Sunday, in another sign of the revival of Jewish life in Germany.

Shlomo Afanasev and Moshe Baumel, students of the Rabbinerseminar zu Berlin, received their semichah in ceremonies at the historic synagogue of Leipzig.

They are the second pair of rabbis trained at this Orthodox school, a programme of the US-based Ronald S Lauder Foundation, which is under the supervision of Rabbi Chanoch Ehrentreu of London.

Both new rabbis were born in the former Soviet Union, reflecting the demographics of Germany's Jewish community.

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