Major Jewish community centre to open in Berlin

27th August 2007, Comments 0 comments

Major new Jewish community centre to open in Berlin

BERLIN, Aug 27, 2007 (AFP) - The first privately funded Jewish cultural centre in Germany since the Holocaust will open this week as a symbol of the rebirth of Jewish life in the country, organisers said Monday.

The centre's director, Rabbi Yehuda Teichtal, offered reporters a tour around the complex in west Berlin which includes a synagogue, a library, a kosher restaurant, a tourist information centre and a lecture hall.

"Everyone is welcome to come in and learn about Jewish life. Knowledge breeds tolerance," Teichtal said.

"We want to send a message that Jewish life is here and thriving."

The Jewish community in Germany is one of the fastest growing in the world with some 120,000 members thanks to an influx of immigrants from the former Soviet bloc.

The five-million-euro (6.8-million-dollar) centre, which like nearly all Jewish institutions in Germany will have round-the-clock police protection, is run by the orthodox Chabad-Lubavitch movement -- a branch of Hasidism.

As the Jewish community has become more visible six decades after World War II, Jewish memorials and cemeteries have faced frequent vandalisation in Germany, where political support for the far-right has grown in recent years.

Teichtal, a New York native, said the funding for the Berlin centre had come largely from donations, 70 percent of which were small contributions by individuals.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the ambassadors of the United States, Britain and Russia and some 30 rabbis from across Europe and Israel are expected to join the opening ceremony Sunday.

A street fair and an open-air concert is to follow in the afternoon.


Subject: German news

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