Bintel Blog

Jew vs. Jew in Germany

By Daniel Treiman

  • Print
  • Share Share

The Economist offers an interesting look at Germany’s Jewish community, which has grown dramatically thanks to an influx of immigrants from the former Soviet Union. But it is a community deeply divided, between the native German Jews and the Russian-speaking newcomers, who now make up more than 90% of the population.

The Economist reports:

As for the immigrants from the former Soviet Union, most neither know nor care about Jewish rituals and traditions. Few of the newcomers keep a kosher home. Many men are not circumcised. When they arrive in Germany, they focus on the practicalities of life—jobs, flats, social security and health insurance. They play chess rather than Skat, a popular card game in Germany. Their cultural icons are Dostoyevsky and Tchaikovsky, not Goethe and Beethoven, let alone Mendelssohn or Heine, who were German Jews.

Established Jews find the newcomers anders (different from us), suspect that they are not “real” Jews and think they are mainly coming in search of prosperity and material help from the state and the community. “They take whatever they can get,” sniffs one.

There is also an argument over identity. For decades, Jews in the former Soviet Union did their utmost to hide from Soviet authorities and even to destroy proof of their origins. So when Germany started to admit Jews in 1991 under the “quota refugee law” (which granted them special refugee status), many could not assemble the papers required to prove their Jewishness. Thousands are reckoned to have got into Germany with false documents.

The strictly orthodox faction in the German community, which is by far the strongest, does not accept even the majority of those who came with proper identification. According to halakha, or religious law, only a convert or a child born to a Jewish mother is Jewish. Jeffrey Peck, a professor at Georgetown University and author of “Being Jewish in the New Germany”, a book exploring the diversity of contemporary Jewish life in Germany, says that about 80% of the newcomers are not halakhically Jewish. Yet they are the future of Judaism in Germany.

Read the full article.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Germany

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.


Comments
Jack Heller Thu. Jan 3, 2008

Great article. This is a repeat of the animosity directed toward German Jewish immegrants in the USA in the early Twentieth Century. Arrogance/discrimination in any form is unacceptable in any century.

Joe Cohen Thu. Jan 3, 2008

Jack, Allow me to correct you. The 'animosity' in the early 20th and late 19th centuries was directed at Jews from eastern Europe, mainly Russia and Poland, by the German Jews in this country.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • What's it like to run the Palestine International Marathon as a Jew?
  • Does Israel have a racism problem?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.