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Jewish life in Germany is 'thriving'

March 26, 2020

Hate crimes against Jews are on the rise in Germany. But Berlin's anti-Semitism commissioner says the country's Jewish communities are flourishing.

A Jewish child draws a Hanukkah light
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/C. Soeder

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.

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.

Read more: Anti-Semitism rising in Germany, survey finds

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."

Read more: German Jewish leader says judges indulge anti-Semitism

Germany: Living with anti-Semitism

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