Berlin state finally hands over cash to community

By Toby Axelrod, July 10, 2013

Berlin’s Jewish community coffers are to be refilled for now, thanks to a court order delivered late last month.

An administrative court decided that the Berlin State Senate had no right to withhold payment of its regular subsidy to the community; accordingly, around 1 million euros (£8m) has now been released.

The annual subsidy reportedly comes to about 18 million euros (£15 million), and helps the community pay pensions and salaries of rabbis and other employees, as well as covering the costs of schools, old-age homes and other institutions. The community owes the state around 8 million euros (£6.8 million) in overpaid pensions. Accordingly, the State Senate has withheld 100,000 euros from its subsidy since autumn 2012.

In May, the Senate decided to withhold its entire subsidy, after the community’s president, Gideon Joffe, failed to provide a list of community employees and their salaries in his financial report. The court decided last week that this missing report was not grounds for withholding payment.

However, the financial crisis had already deepened the rift in the community. A faction led by Mr Joffe proposed that a mortgage could be taken out against an unnamed community property in order to pay communal bills, leading to a row among Berlin’s Jewish leaders.

Last updated: 4:45pm, July 11 2013