Friday 7 January 2011

New head of Germany’s Jewish group says Jews ‘must move beyond the role of victims and moral critics’

BERLIN (EJP)---The new head of Germany’s Jewish representative body said Jews must move beyond the role of victims and moral critics in German society.

Dieter Graumann, who was elected in November President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, told the Financial Times Deutschland : "The role of the victim is not enough, Judaism is much, much more."

"Our community now consists 90% of people who have just come to us in the last 20 years," said Graumann.

"With all due respect to honoring the memories of the millions of Jews murdered during the Holocaust, the Council must also show that we do not always just criticize, that we do not always just correct others," he said.  "That has something to do with us, but that also has a lot to do with the media, who often virtually challenge us to make such statements. We do not always need to serve this need, however," he added.

Graumann, who succeeded Charlotte Knobloch, a Holocaust survivor, acknowledged that moral outrage had become an established ritual for the Council. The new Council president is the first post-war leader who is not a survivor of the Holocaust.

Born in Israel in 1950 and raised in Frankfurt, Graumann said he wanted to let in a little "fresh air" to the Council with an approach that served both old members and the new arrivals.

"We are building a whole new Jewish community," he said after his election. "Plurality is the new Jewish reality."

He said his most important task was the integration of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, whose arrival since 1989 has swelled the Jewish community in Germany to around 200,000.

He has also called for a closer relationship with German Muslims, while criticizing a "much too strong and growing anti-Semitism" among Muslim youths.

Before 1933, Germany had one of Europe's strongest Jewish communities with about 600,000 members.

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