Friday, April 06, 2007

Many Jews prefer Germany to Israel

Sydney Morning Herald:

According to one rabbi, Israelis are flocking to Berlin, rather than German Jews making their aliya, or emigration, to Israel. "Berlin is the place to be," the principal of the Rabbinical Seminary in the German capital, Walter Homolka, said on Monday.

Like Jews across the world, Mr Homolka was preparing for Passover, which celebrates the freeing of the Israelites from ancient Egypt. But he is doing so amid a congregation that has been transformed in recent years.

Across Germany the number of Jews has increased tenfold from the 23,000 members it counted in 1990. "The revival of the German Jewish community is a fact," Mr Homolka said. Berlin was now host to 10 synagogues, with Jewish community centres and schools, and kosher restaurants and shops, he said.

For the first time since World War II, three new rabbis were ordained in Dresden last September. Since then, seven more candidates had applied for the five-year training program, Mr Homolka said.

Stephan Kramer, the general secretary of Germany's Central Council of Jews, said the country's renaissance has drawn more Jewish immigration than Israel.

Most of the newcomers have come from the former Soviet Union, drawn by lenient immigration rules.

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