Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight


Window into the Charedi World | Mordecai Plaut, director







Renaissance for Torah Jewry in Germany

by Yated Ne'eman Staff

A group of Orthodox and chareidi Jews, long frustrated by the control of reformers and assimilationists of all aspects of Jewish life in today's Germany, have announced the formation of an alternate Jewish community.

At a gathering held on Rosh Chodesh Kislev (November 19) for this purpose, two complementary groups were formed: the Union of Observant Congregations and the Association of Observant Rabbis.

Overall head of the umbrella group will be Mr. Peter Zochrovski, a Jewish representative to the European Parliament with long experience in working for chizuk hadas in Vienna, his birthplace. Rav Yaakov Abert of Hanover, representing the rabbinical body, will serve as vice- president. It was Rav Abert together with Rav Adler of Halle who deserve the credit for ensuring that Torah true Jews have a voice in Germany. Rav Abert get semichah from the rabbonei Yerushalayim and Rav Adler from the rabbonei Bnei Brak.

HaRav Yitzchok Halbershtat, rav of the Ahavas Chesed Shul in Bnei Brak who has been actively involved with the project, explained to Yated Ne'eman that ever since the period of HaRav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch, observant Jews in Germany had their own community, since the general Jewish community was dominated by reform and assimilationist elements. Only towards the end, in the 1940's after the outbreak of World War II and under Nazi insistence, was the Orthodox community forced to merge with the Central Committee of Jews in Germany which functioned, at the time, as a Judenrat.

After the war, when the Americans organized the Jewish refugees in the DP camps, the reconstituted the Central Committee to serve as a liaison and a central address for Jewish affairs. In those early days there were still many chareidi Jews in Germany in the DP camps, notably the Klausenberger Rebbe, zt'l, but these left that cursed country as soon as they were able.

The current official Jewish community of Germany is composed mainly of Holocaust refugees who stayed in Germany for business reasons, various refugees who wound up there for one reason or another and mainly, in recent years, thousands of Russian immigrants. The latter all have very minimal Jewish ties, and there are serious doubts about whether many of them are truly Jewish. The current head of the community is Ignatz Bubis, who is not at all a shomer mitzvos, and the head of the local community of Berlin is the adopted son of the Reform cantor.

The current heads of the community are totally insensitive to religious needs. They are not willing to spend any money to build such basic religious needs as mikvaos. They are not even willing to buy siddurim! In one case the local community even sold its cemetery for purely financial motives.

After consulting with HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, HaRav Halbershtat went to Germany to try to change the situation. After conferring with German attorneys, HaRav Halbershtat found that the existing Central Committee is not really legally constituted as the sole representative of German Jewry. This is due to the fact that current German law says that any law made by the Nazis is void today.

Therefore, the observant Jews have a full legal right to organize a separate community, as the heir to the old separate Jewish community that existed in the Second Reich.

The new organizations are now pressing for official recognition by the German government authorities, and a full share of the budget for community maintenance including religious services.


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