Fri 6 Jun, 2003 03:06 pm
Would you believe this could be possible? ---BumbleBeeBoogie
Analysis: Jews flooding into Germany
By Uwe Siemon-Netto
UPI Religion Editor - Published 6/5/2003 5:26 PM
WASHINGTON, June 5 (UPI) -- The turbulent relationship between Jews and Germany is taking yet another stunning turn. Seventy years after Hitler's ascendance to power and 60 years after the Holocaust, more Jews are flooding into Germany than into any other country, Israel included.
This makes Germany the one nation with the fastest-growing Jewish community in the world. Ironically, one reason for this state of affairs is the anti-Semitism in their countries of origin, chiefly successor states of the former Soviet Union, Julius H. Schoeps, head of the Moses Mendelssohn Center for European-Jewish Studies in Potsdam, told United Press International Thursday.
"Of course there are other reasons as well, such as economic considerations and the chance to give their children a better education," Schoeps allowed. "Moreover, they see Germany as a 'safe country.'"
As a result of this accelerating migration, the Jewish population in Germany has swollen from 33,000 in 1990, the year of that nation's reunification, to 200,000 today, according to Schoeps. Before World War II more than half a million Jews lived in that country. At the end of the war there were only 15,000 left.
But in 2002, 19,262 Jews from the former Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States settled in Germany, compared with 18,878 who went to Israel and fewer than 10,000 who were admitted into the United States. German consulates in CIS cities report that 70,000 more Jews have already applied for resettlement visas. In addition, thousands of Israelis, whose parents had fled to Palestine in the Nazi years, are now claiming German passports to which they are entitled by German law.
"Thanks to these developments I believe there is a good chance for the emergence of a new German Jewry," said Schoeps, a historian who was born in World War II in Stockholm, where his parents had found exile. "I absolutely welcome this," Rabbi Carl Feit, a Talmudic scholar and cancer researcher at New York's Yeshiva University, told UPI in an interview.
Feit interpreted the Jews' return to Germany as "a fulfillment of a biblical spiritual theme -- the rebirth and rejuvenation for which there are many examples in history, where Jewish people in one part of the world or another have seemed to have been eclipsed only to reappear against all odds and common expectations."
Feit added, "The biblical paradigm for this rebirth was the return of the Jews to Israel" from the Babylonian captivity in 516 B.C.
There are many ironies in this sudden rejuvenation of Ashkenazic Judaism. The very word, Ashkenaz, which defines German and Eastern European Jews, is the Hebrew term for Germany. This is so, explained Feit, "because the entire Jewish culture in Eastern Europe derives from Jewish communities that lived in three German cities along the Rhine more than 900 years ago."
"The German and Jewish cultures used to fertilize each other," Feit went on. Yiddish, the idiom spoken by 12 million Jews up until World War II, is essentially a medieval German dialect. The two languages are so close that Arnold Beichman, the New York-born writer and political scientist, often quips, "I like to speak German because it is just Yiddish with a better accent."
According to Feit, Yiddish, too, is currently undergoing rejuvenation after decades of decline. This is to some extent also true in Germany, where the ultra-orthodox Lubavichers, coming primarily from New York and London, are doing mission among the mostly secularized Russian-speaking immigrants, most of whom "don't even know the difference between a synagogue and a church," Schoeps said.
The Yiddish-speaking Lubavichers are a Hassidic sect. In their effort to bring immigrants from Eastern Europe to faith, they compete with assorted other religious movements, including Messianic Jews.
Only about 60,000 of the 175,000 Jewish immigrants in Germany are already registered with any of the 84 synagogue congregations, most of which have sprung up in the past decade, Schoeps related. "In some eastern German cities, such as Potsdam, Halle and Rostock, our congregations are now 100 percent Russian-speaking," he said.
Do they fear that anti-Semitism in Germany might once again be on the rise? "They are not really worried," replied Schoeps, who attributed the spate of racist outrages in the early 1990s primarily to hooligans raised without any values in eastern Germany's gray Moscow-style housing estates.
As for the rest of the population, "there are now between 200,000 and 300,000 Russians in Berlin alone, and Germans don't know and don't really care who among them is Jewish and who is not."
But there is another irony in this influx of Jews from the East: Although most are highly educated -- Schoeps described the quintessential immigrant as a mathematician from, say, St. Petersburg -- they cost the German taxpayer money. "Between 60 and 70 percent of them are on welfare because they cannot find work. They don't speak German yet, and their Soviet diplomas are not recognized by Germany."
There are now programs to retrain them. "We have developed projects to turn mathematicians into computer specialists, for example," said Schoeps. But that's only one side. The other side is that now there is a sudden need for teachers, social workers, rabbis and cantors. At Potsdam University, of which Schoeps' center is part, a rabbinical seminary -- the Abraham Geiger Kolleg --has been created.
What will Germany's new Jewish culture look like? Before Hitler, German Jews were among the most assimilated in Europe; culturally they were thoroughly German. Berlin was the first city in Europe with a Jewish high school, created in 1778 along the traditional German "Gymnasium" lines at the instigation of Moses Mendelssohn, the great Jewish Enlightenment philosopher.
This school was closed in 1942 and did not reopen until 1993, when the sudden influx of Jews from the East commenced. But then most of its students and faculty were gentiles, and the Hebrew teacher was a Protestant pastor.
Reflecting on the rich cultural history of Jews in Germany, which this school represents, Schoeps mused, "The intellectual heritage of German Jews included Goethe, Friedrich Schiller and Heinrich Heine, while this new Jewish community is at home with Tolstoy and Gogol."
But then, what about the next generation of German Jews? "Probably Goethe, Schiller and Heine, plus Gogol and Tolstoy -- not a bad prospect, don't you think?"
Anybody that wishes to improve their own lives and that of their children will do everything possible to migrate to the country that provides the most opportunites. I don't find that too surprising. c.i.
It's not hard for me to believe. Modern Germany is very pro Israeli, their history makes it all that much more untoward to give the mere suggestion of being anti-Jewish.
Well, we must admit that Germany of 1942 and Germany of 2003 have very sufficient differences. It is one of the European countires where propaganda of Nazism and usage of Nazi symbols is illegal. This, along with high cultural level of the local population and high living standards of the developed European country, makes it a very atractive place to live.
I do not think that 12 years of insanity in 1933-45 should overweigh the whole cultural heritage of this country. By the way, I heard stories that the German troops in 1916-18 in the occupied Ukraine defended the Jewish population against pogrom attempts. And government of Kaiser Wilhelm II condemned pogrom in Kishinev (Russian Empire) that occurred in 1903.
So, the Jewry was out, and now it's coming back in?
The verdict is bound to be interesting
McTag, Not really. There's still a small minority who believe in Naziism, but the majority will accept the Jews. That same minority that will be against the Jews have shown angst against other minorities in Germany. That's how I see it, from my vantage point. c.i.
if I could get the stupid emoticon symbol thingy going I would say ha ha ha ha... now said it.
Who might be the foreman of the Jewry?
cicerone imposter wrote:
McTag, Not really. There's still a small minority who believe in Naziism.....
ci, I did not mean "interesting" as in "May you live in interesting times", but only as, well, interesting. I am hopeful.
There are racist tensions everywhere, in Richmond as well as Rostock, Kirkcaldy and Kabul, Bradford and Basra. It's our job, yours and mine, to keep the lid on. Civilisation seems to be a very fragile thing, more fragile than I thought a few years ago.
By the way, the modrn ultra-right radicals and neo-Nazis in Gremany are moe concerned with influx of the so-called "asylum seekers" from the Third World than with Jews (I say "so-called" since in general economic motivation dominates in all the immigrants to the EU countries; stories about persecution are often being forged in order to get access to the welfare resources of the hosting country; Denmark has changed policies, so it will be less popular among people that seek for dolce vita that is not dependent on personal contribution).
Jews were trained by the Soviet government to keep low profile, while Muslims tend to proceed with the way of life they got used to in their countries and therefore they attract attention of the racists.
I hope hamburger will chime in on this.
We've had the interesting, not to mention startling, experience a couple of times in the past 20 years where the parents of friends of ours, living in Israel, come to visit and tell us with great pride that they are, of course, a better class of Jew because they are originally from Germany. It made us shake our heads to hear this.
The article speaks of the rich relationship between the cultures over the centuries. I'd say all sides (can't say both, as there were many) benefitted by the relationship in the past, and hope they will be as productive again.
Nearly 60 years after the end of the Holocaust, the German parliament has voted into law a treaty putting relations between Germany's Jewish community and the state on a formal legal footing. It provides for about three million euros annually from the government to the Central Council of Jews in Germany, a tripling of state financial support. Speakers from all sides hailed the treaty as another step toward normality after the horrors of the Holocaust. from Deutsche Welle, 06.06.03
On quite a few German Universities you can study Jewism, one of the four chairs on Yiddish is at a German university and the in Heidelberg you'll find the [Jewish] University of Jewish Studies.
Jews have been 'flooding' from former Russia and East Europe since 1989 - all of them German by origin.
Now, since a couple of years, re-immigration from Israle starts, too.
The German Jews were no different than their Christian counterparts in thinking they were superior. Although they always helped their fellow religionists they also looked down on the eastern European Jews as less than equal.
and as i understand it the Sephardic jews are at the bottom of the ladder regarding status.
I know nothing about Sephardic Jews. But I do know what the attitude of German Jews to their co-religionists from Eastern Europe was prior to WW2. It would seem that after the holocaust that type of thinking would be dispelled but surprisingly enough in some it has not. Old habits die hard.
I admit i have no facts regarding Sehpardic Jews, i just happen to have several friends who are Shepardic and was only relating what they have told me.
Steissd said "Jews were trained by the Soviet government to keep low profile, while Muslims tend to proceed with the way of life they got used to in their countries and therefore they attract attention of the racists."
Good point, Steissd. One of my closest friends is the daughter of a German Rabbi, who brought his family to the U.S. just before Jews were blocked from emigrating. She is the widow of an American Rabbi, whose family also emigrated from Germany. She told me stories of how Jews survived in most countries by keeping a low profile. She has visited her birth city several times over the years, but has never expressed any desire to return to German to live, or to emigrate to Israel, although she visits often. At age 77, she prefers to live in California.
From a longer essay, by by Susan Stern
JEWS IN GERMANY TODAY
Dynamic Growth, Dramatic Change
Born near London, educated in the USA, has lived in Germany for 25 years. Lecturer in English at the University of Frankfurt/Main. Freelance journalist and writer. Has published extensively on German topics, including such books as "Meet United Germany," "Ten Went West," "Off the Wall," "Speaking Out - Jewish Voices From United Germany," and "From Horror to Hope - Germany, the Jews and Israel" (contributing author). Active in the German-American Jewish Dialogue.]
The Jewish Community Dilemma
"We do not invite Russian Jews to come to Germany," says Ignatz Bubis, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, "but if they come, we do what we can to help them." This statement reflects some of the ambivalence felt by the established Jewish Community, which indeed finds itself in an awkward situation. On the one hand, every Jew who settles in Germany adds to the numerical strength of the population and is theoretically a bonus. The more Jews in Germany the better, goes the argument. Moreover, the Russian Jews are not just bringing new blood to the population, they are bringing fresh young blood, badly needed to rejuvenate (and perhaps even keep alive) the elderly establishment. On the other hand, the massive influx (massive in relative terms) of Russian Jews presents a number of serious problems. Willy-nilly and without malicious intent, the newcomers are threatening a lot of what the old guard holds dear.
The established Jewish Community in Germany is united and practices an Orthodox variant of Judaism. Gone (to a very great extent) are the Conservative and Reform branches of the religion which existed alongside the Orthodox before the Shoah. Today, a "monolithic- Orthodox image is presented to the outside", although beneath the surface interest in religion is not very great, and "Orthodox families are few and far between" (Kaufmann). Berlin is the only city to have two rabbinates, one of which is more liberal than the other (but not much). Some Jews have come together in a number of towns to form more liberal religious groups (but these are informal gatherings), the community in Oldenburg recently appointed a female rabbi (the first and only in postwar Germany, and extremely controversial) but for the most part, Orthodoxy is the rule.
Against this background, it is easy to see why the Russian "invasion" is highly problematic. As mentioned above, most of the immigrants have little or no knowledge of Judaism; they come from a secular culture. Some have a genuine interest in learning about the religion, others do not. Many of them are not Jewish according to Orthodox law (which stipulates that the mother must be Jewish) and not accepted in the community at all. Others are married to non-Jews - and if the non-Jewish spouse is the wife, the children are not Jewish either - so only part of the family is accepted in the community. Not all of the newcomer [text ends here.W.H,] JEWS IN GERMANY TODAY
Dyslexia, there was a period of discrimination in '50s. Not even a discrimination, but forced assimilation: people were permitted to speak only Hebrew and to abide laws of the country, even if the rabbis of their community considered these laws being wrong. On the initial period the immigrants from the Arab countries really dealt with menial jobs, since they lacked qualification for doing anyhting else. But the second generation improved educational level and they fill the same positions the European Jews do. Israel is a small country surrounded by enemies, being at war for 55 years, and it cannot permit itself such a luxury as multiculturalism.