Habait: The Doorbell to Home

Israelis and the Jewish Community

“The young Israelis don’t know the community principle from home and they don’t want to pay community taxes,” Lala Süsskind, former President of the Jewish Community in Berlin and member of the Executive Committee of the Central Council of Jews in Germany says. “They may go to the synagogue or ask us for non-financial support which we give them, but they don’t become members.” The community however is badly in need of them, it needs money and people to maintain Jewish institutions like the schools, kindergartens, adult education centers and the retirement homes and youth centers.

Choreographer Nir de Volff at his show ‘Komot‘ (Floors)

Rich diversity

There are currently around 11,000 Jews signed up to the central community, which is a chartered body. They come from across the whole belief spectrum, from ultra-Orthodox to liberal. 80% of the members are Russian and Ukranian Jews, many of whom came to Germany after the fall of the Berlin wall.

The community is doing well

“We are very grateful because they keep our community alive,” Süsskind says. But, she adds, a lot has changed because of them. “Suddenly it became normal to be addressed in Russian. What’s more, we now celebrate certain holidays more intensively than before, and others less so.” Apart from its ailing financial situation, Süsskind assures us the community is doing well. “We belong to Berlin and we are heard. Even if we are not asked, we answer.” She worries about the offspring in the Jewish community because “young Jewish people promote Judaism”.

She urges her fellow Jewish Berliners to “Marry, have children, and become Jewish community members.” Choreographer Nir de Volff will probably not follow this suggestion, but not only because he does not believe in religion: “I won’t be getting old in this cold. With a bit more sun – who knows what will happen.”

Photo Credit: Ruthe Zuntz, Bernhard Musil

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