[So sad for the Germans. Jan]
Jewish life in Germany is ‘thriving,’ commissioner says
Hate crimes against Jews are on the rise in Germany. But Berlin’s anti-Semitism commissioner says the country’s Jewish communities are flourishing.
Felix Klein, Germany’s commissioner for the fight against anti-Semitism, believes the country is witnessing a resurgence of Jewish life.
"There is still a thriving, growing Jewish life in Germany. I think society should take a much closer look at Jewish life today," the commissioner said in an interview with German Catholic news agency KNA.
Read more: Berlin: Where Jews want to live
Klein pointed to a newly-built synagogue in the southern city of Constance, and another that is soon to be opened in Lübeck, in northern Germany. The flourishing community, he said, meant Jews from abroad, but especially from Israel, wanted to make Germany their home.
"This is a great development — that Jews trust in our country is something very special after the horror of the Shoah," he said, referring to the Holocaust by its Hebrew name. "We should make this diversity even more tangible by holding Jewish cultural days, exhibitions and joint celebrations."
Klein told KNA there would be an opportunity to do this in 2021, which marks 1,700 years of Jewish life in Germany. To celebrate the occasion, the commissioner said a special stamp was planned, as well as the world’s largest celebration of the Jewish holiday Feast of Tabernacles.
Watch video 02:59
‘Since I came here, I’ve realized that I’m Jewish’
Rise in anti-Semitism
Recent surveys have found that Germans believe anti-Semitism is rising in their communities. In 2019, police recorded 1,839 hate crimes committed against Jews nationwide — the highest tally in almost two decades.
In one of those cases, a gunman killed two people outside a synagogue in the eastern city of Halle while the Jewish community was observing Yom Kippur.
Synagogues in Germany
Rykestrasse Synagogue in Berlin
The Jewish community in Berlin with more than 11,000 members is once again the biggest in Germany. Its main synagogue is on the Rykestrasse, a red-brick building in a Neo-Romanesque style dating from 1903/04. With seating for over 2,000 it is the second largest synagogue in Europe after the Dohány Street Synagogue in Budapest.
Klein said there was certainly a growing "brutalization," especially in online attacks, but added that he would continue to fight for these offenses to be "punished more quickly and more consistently," for example by ensuring that police stations, prosecutors’ offices and courts were "adequately staffed."
Watch video 04:16
Germany: Living with anti-Semitism
Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, says the German government must tackle rising anti-Semitism. He awarded German Chancellor Angela Merkel the Theodor Herzl Award in Munich on Monday. (28.10.2019)
The Halle synagogue attack underscores what is downplayed: the threat against Jews is here and always has been. DW’s Kyra Levine, a US-born Jew living in Berlin, says Germany must lead the fight against anti-Semitism. (10.10.2019)
Before 1933, there were some 2,800 Jewish temples in Germany. Today there are just 130 synagogues and prayer rooms — a reflection of the tumultuous past of German Jewish life, but also evidence of its current resurgence. (08.11.2018)