Jewish life in Germany is much more diverse than it's often portrayed to be in the German media. A new German-language Jewish newspaper, the "Jüdische Zeitung," hopes to capture that diversity.
The new paper aims to reach a cross-section of Jews in Germany
The new Jüdische Zeitu n g, published by Russian-Jewish publisher Nicholas Werner's Werner Media Group, doesn't claim to be competition for the weekly Jüdische Allgemei n e Zeitu n g, the mouthpiece for the Central Council of Jews in Germany.
However, on page one of its first edition, it didn't hesitate to call into question the Central Council's role as the exclusive representative body for Jews in Germany. And it says it wants to be something the Jüdische Allgemei n e isn't -- truly independent.
Having made its debut in September, Werner Media plans to publish the new paper on a monthly basis at first, before switching to a twice-monthly format.
Among the Jüdische Zeitu n g's potential readers is the younger generation of Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union. Some 90,000 Russian Jews have immigrated to Germany in the past 15 years, and now make up the majority of Jews in Germany. Germans with an interest in Jewish culture and religion would also find the paper interesting, said its editor-in-chief.
"One of our goals is to reach younger readers, because the young generation of Russian-speaking Jews isn't really reading Russian newspapers anymore," Mikhail Goldberg said. "Despite this, they are interested in Judaism, as well as events in Eastern Europe."
The Jüdische Zeitu n g devotes quite a few column inches to small, liberal Jewish communities which are not represented by the Central Council of Jews, and which therefore come up short in the council's Jüdische Allgemei n e.
No critical questio n s
General view of the new synagogue, center, and the building of the Jewish parish, left, in Dresden, eastern Germany, on Wednesday.
Despite its claim to independence, the paper has already run into criticism for not being balanced in its reporting. The Jüdische Zeitu n g intentionally refrains from asking interview partners critical questions, whether the interview partner is a liberal Jewish personality such as Walter Homolka, governor of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, or an orthodox Jew such as Canadian-born Rabbi Joshua Spinner.
"I wouldn't say we're not critical, but rather that our primary aim is to describe the current state of things," Goldberg said. "It's not always the role of a newspaper to judge things, that's the role of the reader, I'd say."
For Goldberg, the first edition of the Jüdische Zeitu n g is also a personal success. When he came to Berlin from Kiev in 1994, he could barely speak German. A civil engineer, he never dreamed that he would one day be the editor of a German-language newspaper.
Whether the new paper can establish itself as the mouthpiece of the liberal Jewish community will depend on whether the two full-time and two part-time writers can meet the demand for quality copy. If they do, the paper hopes to make a significant contribution to the integration of Russian-Jewish immigrants in Germany.